Last October, I wrote a blog post about the possible “beginning of the end” of my amateur golf career. To paraphrase, I was lamenting my lack of practice and tournament play, which puts me at a significant disadvantage relative to my younger, fitter, childless competition.
This past weekend I teamed with a buddy to play in our state Fourball (2 man team) championship. We won this event way back in 2011, when I didn’t yet have children and was not only one of the best amateur golfers in the state of Colorado, but also one of the better amateur players in the country. Things have changed now, but with our Top 10 finish (a tie for 6th place out of 60 really good teams) it got me wondering if I should make an attempt to play more tournaments in 2019. Here’s what I found out this past weekend…
I still don’t hit it very far: Most of the guys I played with hit it farther than I did. Some hit A LOT farther than I did. Distance has really changed the game of golf, at all levels of competition, and my lack of it puts me at a disadvantage.
I can still chip and putt with the best of them: Though I didn’t make very many putts outside of 10 feet, I’m still very good with my wedges and putter. I need to be, because item # 1 isn’t going to change anytime soon.
It’s nice having a partner to help carry the load: Fourball events, where you write down the best score on each hole of the two-man team, are a lot of fun. Not only do you get to play with a friend, but you get a lot of help out there too. In my case, my partner made quite a few more birdies this weekend than I did. I was solid and steady, shooting 73-73-72 on my own ball and making 7 birdies in 3 days, but he probably doubled that total. And in fourball events, birdies are king. As you get older, it’s nice to have a partner to help shoulder the burden.
I still love to compete: The great Bobby Jones once said that golf and tournament golf are two very different things, and have almost nothing to do with one another. He was completely right. Pressure and nerves change everything. When you’re playing with your buddies on your home course and you miss that 3 footer, most of the time you give it to yourself. But when you’re in a state championship, there are no gimmes, and every shot counts. The butterflies in your stomach will be no doubt be flying. The trick is getting them to fly in formation when everything is on the line. But I still enjoy those nerves, and I still enjoy competing under pressure. This weekend showed me that.
So does all of this mean I’ll be playing more tournament golf in 2019? No. I’m still not planning to play but 2, perhaps 3, tournaments this year. 1 of which has already transpired. I still love golf and I still love to compete, but with the demands of work and kids on my daily schedule, it’s going to be mostly casual golf for the time being. Still, it was nice to see that I still had a little gas left in the proverbial tank. And winning a little pro shop credit for our Top 10 finish didn’t hurt either…