Keep your feet on the ground while your head’s in the clouds

#fuckingWIN

1a – This has been one hell of a weekend. I have to think it’s rare to experience the range of emotion I went through in a span of 48 hours, the highs and lows, the inspiring and the debilitating, and come out of it all feeling like you got yourself a fucking win. I did.

This last week(s) has been dominated by thoughts of a pretty young lady I’ve recently been demolished by. There will probably be a blog about her at some point, I’m just not ready to write one up yet. Wounds are pretty fresh.

But whatever, forget the girl, this entry is about a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.

Anyone who golfs often has played out in their head the scenario that unfolded tonight. I’ve done it countless number of times. The situation is this:

You hit a beautiful drive on a par three or a par four. You know that you hit it well, and you know it was heading for the pin. Unfortunately you couldn’t quite see the landing zone so you have about a minute or two in-between the drive and when you make it to the green where you can imagine what would happen if the ball actually made it into the pin. You approach the green, you look around, you don’t see the ball and all of the sudden you stop and think,

“Check the cup”.

You slowly move toward the pin, look down and there it is. That little dimpled ball that you know you’ll have for the rest of your life.

Well, it happened tonight.

I had been driving the ball well. On number one I nearly drove the green on a par four despite missing most of the ball. On number three, a par five, I crushed the drive and had nothing but a seven iron to make it home in two.

Then came number four. What makes this situation special, besides the outcome, is that the shot was blind. I couldn’t see the green because there’s a bunker 50 yards in front, blocking the view. If you’re a big hitter you can carry the bunker, or you can pull an iron and hit your shot to the left and chip on. It’s not a long par four by any means, and there’s times I’ll pull the four iron and lay-up, leaving an easy pitch to the green. But I’d been hitting the ball well tonight so I grabbed the lumber and hit my drive.

Unlike my previous few drives, this one was more of a liner. Also unusual, I actually watched this drive through; when I hit a good drive I typically watch it for a second, turn and grab my clubs and start walking before the ball has even stopped. With this drive I watched it land, presumably on or just short of the green, take one bounce and disappear.

Now, here’s where the above scenario in your head plays out. I actually started thinking how amazing it would be if the shot actually went in. Walking up the fairway I made note of what song was playing in my ear-buds (Motley Crew – Home Sweet Home), what time it was (6:21 pm) and thought to myself how I didn’t see a second bounce. It was heading straight for the pin, bounced once and I didn’t see the ball again. So for those 60 seconds or so I allowed myself the fantasy that I might have just hit my first hole in one (on a par four none the less!).

Still, I never really believed it went in. It’s like any other fantasy; fun to think about, never actually anticipated.

When I got to the bunker and looked at the green, I didn’t see the ball. This wasn’t much of a big deal; I figured it bounced on the green and hopped somewhere off, maybe under a tree behind the green or in the rough.

I put my clubs down and walked over the green, trying to spy my ball. No dice. I gave a quick glance under a couple of pines, but they didn’t line up to where I thought my shot landed. I checked the nearby rough and didn’t see anything.

Then the thought hit me: “Check the cup”.

Like I had envisioned so many times in the past, I slowly approached the hole, still not really letting the thought of a hole in one enter my head.

Then I saw it, that little white Top Flight 3, and the air left the building (course).

You know how when you watch Wimbledon and the winner yells and drops to their knees? It isn’t a show. Their knees literally give out. I know this now. I let out a yell and was on my knees in less than a second.

I just stared at it for a couple moments. At first I was in shock. Then disbelief. I quickly questioned whether or not that could really be my ball. The notion was in and out of my head in a heartbeat.

That motherfucker was mine.

I didn’t dare touch it. My pulse was going a mile a minute and I was excited like I’d won the lottery, but my first thought was to take a picture. I fumbled for the iPhone and snapped one.

Next thought was to call my dad. I dialed home and my sister picked up. I could barely breathe the words, “Get dad”. She did, and I told him the story. He was excited and asked if anyone besides me saw it.

There’s the rub, folks.

I already talked about how much I love golfing alone in the evenings. Music playing, alone with my thoughts, working out any frustrations I’d have. Unfortunately you don’t consider the issue of hitting the best shot of your life, a shot so few experience in the entire world, and then not having anyone to witness it.

I didn’t care. I already knew the answer to his question. There were only a half dozen other golfers at Mill Run this evening, at least as far as I could see. The sun was on its way down, it was a holiday, there was a little chill in the air. I did a quick survey of the land but it was pointless: no one saw this shot but me.

I told the old man I didn’t give a shit, that I’d know and that’s all I cared about. He laughed, agreed, told me congratulations and I hung up.

Next call was to my brother and I got a similar reaction. He was golfing with me earlier in the day at a different course and judging how I’d played those nine holes at Princeton I’m sure he was more shocked than I was.

When I hung up I finally reached in to grab the ball. I put it in a pocket in the bag where it wouldn’t get mixed up with another and continued my round.

2 – The circumstances regarding this shot may not be of interest to most, but I had to consider them.

I’d already played two other rounds of golf this weekend, once in Neilsville yesterday and another time today, the aforementioned round with Ben at Princeton. Both times Ben and I were behind incredibly slow players that wouldn’t let us play though.

Ben doesn’t let that bother him; it pisses the motherfuck out of me.

I’m the guy who’ll get road-rage and tailgate or flip off old people who suck at driving. I’ll frustratingly drop four letter words in the middle of a meeting or in a silent Production area while people are working. I used to give up home runs and if I thought the batter was taking too much time jogging his ass around the bases I’d plunk the next batter in the back, on the rare occasion in the helmet.

When it comes to golf, I wear my emotions on my sleeve and nothing infuriates me more than when a group of fucksticks let their pride get in the way of golf etiquette. Both yesterday and today Ben and I were behind absolutely awful players. But while he’d play at a nice, easy pace and sit and wait while the people in front of us dribbled their way up the course, I stayed on their asses.

I’d meet up with their groups on the tee-box, stand fifteen feet from the box with my arms folded over my chest and stare. When these packs of fucking elephants hit their shots and drove away without offering to let us play through I’d sit on the front of the box, on the ground, and watch every one of their shots, knowing damn well it’s making their group uncomfortable. When they got a good 350 yards out I’d hit my drive as far and as hard as I could and watch with a combination of rage, arrogance and glee as it rolled up to their group.

Shove it up their asses, Ben and I’d say.

Unfortunately, it also kills my round. I’m not good when I’m pissed off. This afternoon I was feeling dejected, wanted to go alone but Ben tagged along. I didn’t even finish the round at Princeton. I was too pissed off and I waited while Ben completed his nine.

But golfing alone is different. I’m out there simply to be out there. Typically I’ll run into groups that let me play through when needed, but whether my round takes one our or three I don’t care. I like the idea of playing with a goal and some focus, but not for the sake of competing against anyone or anything. I just play to play and spend time out-doors.

3 – I almost didn’t go tonight. Like I said, I’d already played nine with Ben this afternoon and stunk up the course.

But I’d come back to my place, watched some BSG and the choice became:

a: waste an evening in-doors
b: go back out and work out the emotional shit bugging me

and I chose b.

4 – Megan is back and working another summer at WR/ML.

Dope.

5 – When I finished the nine holes I stopped in the clubhouse and bought the bar a round. The patrons were almost as happy as I was.

6 – The ball is sitting on a shelf in my room, I’ll figure out what to do with it later.

7 – It feels a little weird. Again, if you don’t do a lot of golfing you might not give it a lot of thought. But courses here have been open for two weeks and I’ve already been out golfing a dozen times. It’s my single favorite thing to do, and has been for as long as I can remember. Hitting a hole in one has always been my big goal. I didn’t imagine it happening on a par four, but it did and now it’s like a big check has been marked off on the bucket list or something.