Back in mid-April, shortly after joining the Men’s Club at the West Seattle golf course for the first time and looking at the tournament schedule, I had a mildly nutty thought: What if I could play golf at least 4 times a month? That may or may not sound like a lot of golf to you, Dear 2.5 Readers, but when you have a 3-year old and don’t want to turn your kid into a golf orphan or your wife into a golf widow it is quite a bit.
In order to meet my “goal”, I figured if I would have to play every other weekend, then once every week during the week in order to meet my goal. So I had to get creative.
In order to play during the week, I would have to get to work around 6:30-45am, get my work done, then rush to the course and be able to play 18 before dark. I talked to my boss and he gave me clearance to flex my day when I needed. Then I’d have to work around my wife’s busy work and travel schedule so I didn’t inconvenience her. Then there was the weather, which can be pretty dicey to predict in spring around here. (The weather turned out to be my biggest hurdle. We had a terrible spring—cold, wet and just blah.)
So, did I meet my goal? Well, I played my final and 27th round of the year at Chambers Bay with my friend Nick on Oct. 28th—by far the most golf I’ve played in one year since I lived in Dallas and played 1-2 times a week with the guys from the V.A. Hospital.
And here’s where I give a big, big shout out and heaps of gratitude to my wife for letting me play the game that I love (and loathe) so much. It means a ton, honey, and I’m very thankful. (Though when The Boy asked “Where’s Daddy going?” and you snark, “He’s leaving us….” I could have done without that one, even though I know you were kidding.)
How did I perform? Put it this way, the imperfect sport of golf is unsatisfying in many ways for even the best players in the world. Yet I remember more good shots than bad, and more good rounds than bad. And, like baseball, stats really tell the story, so let’s go over those.
These stats are drawn from West Seattle Golf Club (WSGC) and my GolfShot app (a GPS range finder, score and stat keeper in one), and there are rounds that WSGC didn’t record that I did on GS, and vice versa. (Example: I didn’t use my GS when I played 2 rounds in Grand Cayman (too expensive with GPS) and 1 round due to weather. Conversely, WSGC didn’t record 2 tournament results, but I did on GS. In any case, I’ll list both and the number of entries.
Handicap: 7.6 (WSGC); 8.2 (GS)
I started the year with a 9.9, so a 2.3 improvement is a positive. Trouble is, I just tend to believe the GS handicap more. Then again, WSGC keeps my relevant stats and includes those Cayman rounds. Some day somebody will have to dumb down on Slope and Course Rating factor into a golf handicap because I’m sure they matter. I just don’t know how.
Driving Accuracy 54.6% (WSGC); 51.1% (GS)
I’d really like to see this up in the high 50s or low 60s, and over my last 10 rounds it’s just that, 58.6%. I don’t keep driving distance stats as that’s too much of a distraction during a round. But if you put a gun to my head, I’d guess it’s between 255-265.
Greens in Regulation: 43.6% (WSGC, 20 entries); 44% (GS, 25)
This isn’t horrid, but it’s not that great either. I’d really like it to be in the low-50s.
Sand Saves: 33.3% (WSGC, 16 entries); 46.2% (GS, 25)
GS is the more accurate stat here as I often wouldn’t enter sand stats into the WSGC site. If I were on the PGA Tour, I’d be ranked 124th.
Scrambling: 21.6% (GS only, WSGC does not keep this stat)
Oye. This is flat out awful and reflects just how much I struggled with my game around the green this year. I should be the in the mid-40 range. This poor stat partially explains the next nauseating stat….
Average Putts per Round: 33.2 (WSGC, 21 entries); 33.2 (GS, 25)
My putting was the single most frustrating part of my game this year, and has been for the last 2 years. Maybe it’s time for some lessons, a new putter, more practice or all three. And this perplexes me. I used to be a very good putter. Get me inside 10 feet, I was money. This year? I had zero confidence over anything inside 5 feet. I cost myself numerous strokes missing 3, 4 and 5 footers, and hell, even 5-10 within 3 feet. I’m not kidding. This has to improve. My lag putting was nothing to write home about either.
Best Round: 75, West Seattle, June 22.
In really good rounds, you wonder how you got there. But not this one. I shot a run-of-the-mill 40 on the front (par 37). But on the tougher back side I shot an even par 35 that featured a birdie on the 485-yard, par 5 12th, a lip out birdie on the 185-yard 13th and a fist-pumping birdie on the difficult 14th (see the picture!).
Worst Round: 90, Washington National, Sept. 25
And the WashNat score was an ESC-adjusted 90, too. If it was tournament play, it would’ve been 98. I recorded an 8 and a 10 on the first two holes. Awesome. Let’s be fair, though. We were on the back-end of a storm and the wind was howling at about 25-30 MPH at times. Aside from that, I just had no idea what I was doing with the golf club. Oh, and did I mention this was on my birthday? Fun.
Most memorable round: August 23 at Druids Glen
Ever year since my heart attack on August 23, 2000, I take the day off and do something active. Most of the time I play golf. Most of the time, I play by myself. But the last two years I’ve had a friend join me. But this round was memorable, one I’ll never forget. Why?
Because my good friend Aaron and I were paired with the infamous 1985 US Open runner-up and infamous. He was playing a practice round before a qualifier for the Boeing Classic at Snoqualime TPC and we got paired with him. Completely random and unexpected. He was quiet and unassuming; very studious and taking copious notes one very hole, so we didn’t have a lot of interaction or conversations. But he did compliment me on several drives and approaches, and let me tell you, it’s really something when a pro tells you “Really nice drive, Peter” or “great shot, Peter”. Positively thrilling! Even though I was forced to wear and LA Dodgers hat the entire round thanks to a bet I lost with Aaron. (Jake Locker went in the first round? Really, Titans? Really? Apparently, they missed his Holiday Bowl game.)
Best Shot: #12, North Sound Club, Grand Cayman.
Look at the picture. What you don’t see is a steady 15-20 MPH wind coming off the sound from the northeast, right into my face. Yardage was 205 to the center, playing back from the markers. The pin was in the back, making it more like 215-218. I had a good round going, but to call this an intimidating shot doesn’t do it justice.
Into a headwind, the temptation is to swing hard. I do that and I’ll hook it. I fear left. I felt my hybrid was nowhere near enough, so I grabbed my 3-wood. I’m decent with that off the tee and can it hit 225-235, and I thought I’d need every bit of that just to get to the front of the green and try and two putt. I just thought, “when it’s breezy, nice and easy” And wham, I hit it dead perfect with a tiny draw. And the result? Not too shabby.
18 feet for a bird. I missed it, but damn, it was a fantastic par.
Insert a sigh here. I had dreams of taking a first or second in my Flight B group, but alas, my play was sub-par (pun intended) in the 5 tournaments. I missed too many short putts in one event; an adrenaline rush took over in another; nerves got the better of me in the first one; and I imploded on the back 9 at another. I’m going to give myself a break, though. This was the first year I played serious competitive golf since high school. Sure, I played with the guys in the Dallas VA but they were always slightly lax (you could improve your lie by a scorecard if need be, which I rarely did). I didn’t participate in any match play events and I missed a couple of tournaments in May and June due to scheduling conflicts. Another positive: I never, ever gave up. Whether it was score, skins, flagsticks or pride, I didn’t give in, despite heavy frustration at times.
1. Continue to have fun. I really did have a tremendous amount of fun playing this year. I’m grateful for all 27 rounds and can recall many, many great shots with a big ol’ fist pump .
2. Play as much as possible. With Kid #2 on the way just being able to play will be a goal. If I get out 10-15 times or 2x a month, I’ll be happy.
3. Improve the short game. Since this is the most intricate and sensitive part of any player’s game, it will be hard to do given my anticipated lack of playing time. But damnit, I’m pissed about this aspect of my game. There’s no excuse for doing what I did this year. None. And I mean to improve it.
4. Play in some match play events. If I can….
5. Win money in stroke play. There’s simply no reason why I shouldn’t be in the money. Improve my short game and this will happen.
6. Play in the Greenspanners. Hopefully I have the opportunity in mid-summer. Sounds like an incredibly exhausting, competitive and good time! Even if they don’t go to Bandon this year, I don’t care. I’d love the competition and camaraderie.
Here’s to long walks down the middle of the fairway, lower scores and holing more putts in ’12.