Sunday, November 02, 2008

Disc Golf Life Lessons

I played disc golf today at Buckhorn. My lifetime average on that course is about a 54, though I've been getting steadily better in the last few years. Since I hadn't played the course in a while and it was a bit cold, I set a goal of 54 (par) for my round.

Things went bad pretty quickly.

I lost my yellow, special edition Leopard during warmups, a key disc in my bag. I spent a good 45 minutes to an hour looking for it since that disc is not manufactured any more. My the time I gave up, some muscles had tightened up, I had stepped wrong on a sore ankle and pushing off with my knee was was a bit painful. I also didn't have one of my key drivers. After holing out for a birdie on the first hole, I proceded to bogy the next five holes to put me at +4. Holes 7 and 8 are birdieable, but I went a bit deep on 7 and missed my come back for biride when I hit the lip of the basket. On hole 8, the shortest hole, I hit a tree, leaving me a little short and again hit the basket on my birdie bid for a tip in par.

So I stepped to the ninth tee, almost half done, without a key disc, sore, and having bogeyed two of the easier holes on the course (2 and 5).

I have been trying to work on not giving up on rounds when things don't go well, but this wasn't even really a matter of a few weird breaks. The wheels were off. Nevertheless, I tried to imagine myself in a competitive round where each stroke mattered. I made a long drive on 9 but went a little deep and left, but I finally made a long putt for birdie. A good drive on hole 10 was ruined by hitting a tree, but another booming drive that actually went dep on 11 had me set up for a long putt. I made it, and all of a sudden I had that inexplicable thing called momentum.

Not for long, though. Hole twelve is a 297 foot right turning hole, and I set myself up for a decent par bid. I delivered my putt square in the chains and reached down to pick up my marker when the hole literally spat the disc out. Very rarely in disc golf you can hit a putt too well. It can be so centered that it pushes the chain into the pole and bounces off the pole and back. Or, it can, as in this case, become tangled in the chain and fall out when the chain rattles. (Picture a swish in basketball that doesn't hit rim but has so much back spin that the net curls around the ball and then backspins it back up and out of the rim. I couldn't have placed the putt any better, and 99 times out of 100 it would have stayed in. That my 1 in 100 bad break came at the worst possible time seemed to give credence to that part of me that said, "Today's just not your day."

I had six remaining holes and was back to +3 and three of the remaining holes were ones I usually used my Leopard for. On hole 13 I threw a Sidewinder low with a cut slice rather than trying the long anhyzer with a dive back at the end and managed to skp low up to the hole for a birdie putt. On hole 14 I threw a DX Sidewinder and while it didn't turn right as much as my Leopard, it left me to the left of the hole and deep for another birdie putt. A part on 15 left me with one remaining birdie hole, and I threw a perfect left to right slice for a birdie tip in to, miraculously, find myself back at par.

Here's the thing, though. Holes 17 and 18 are no gimmes. 17 is a long shot over water that I have to lay up on and try to approach over water close enough to get a par putt. I've gotten a five on it (for going in the water) more times than I've gotten a three, but today I managed to gut out a 20 foot putt to come to the 18th. Here again I made a good throw, but I got just too much turn and hit a tree, which kicked me away from the hole and into some rough.

Golf is like life in so many ways. A friend of mine once said bogeys are like trying to lose bad hole can take a lot of work just to get you back to where you started. Or, it's like the stock market, which doesn't care what you had to do on the last few holes to finally pay off some bills only to tax your resources once again. Well, I made about a 120 foot approach, snaking through some sparse, skinny trees and laying up for a twelve footer to save my par and a round of 54--hitting my goal on the nose.

Cindy is fond of reminding me that you don't know what kind of round you are having while you are having it. That's a hard life lesson to learn as well as golf lesson. I've had better scores, but I'm not sure I've had much more satisfying rounds. I had to fight not just the course but myself and the human tendency to just throw in the towel when things get tough and say, "Life was against me today."

Turns out it wasn't.


peter said...

If Greta had been there, simply witnessing her joie de vivre probably would have cut two or three strokes from your game.

She has that power.

Congrats on your comeback.

Kenneth R. Morefield said...

Hey, if Greta had been there it would have been the BEST...DAY...EVER!