A Dream Fulfilled
Walking up the long hill on the 18th, past the signature tree in the middle of the fairway to where my second shot lay, I thought it had eluded me. After equaling my best score on the front nine, a 38, I had been trying not to tally my score mentally on the back, so as to avoid putting any pressure on myself. But I knew I'd been doing ok. Then one of my foursome, Joey "Diamonds", said "Joe, you could break 80. Bob has you for 35 after 17." I quickly reviewed the holes in my mind. "No," I said, "I had a six on 13, so that makes me 36". But, still with a par of 5 on 18, I could post 38/41.
Reaching my ball, I found I had a little under a full wedge to the green. I pulled my pitching wedge. No way I'm going to risk putting it in the left bunker with a weak sand wedge or skulling it over. This one has to be on the green. Somehow I managed to collect myself, find my swing thought and pull the trigger. I caught it well, and saw it fly onto the green, looking like it was somewhere past the pin. Whew!
When I got up to the green I found it had rolled about 20 feet past the front-placed pin and was near the middle right edge of the green. Two putts, my friend, this has to be two putts. I'd been putting ok, but I'm not a great lag putter and the 18th green is very fast from back to front. This was not the time to get a yip and roll it many feet by. Gut-check time. It's all kind of hazy right now, but I managed to not over-study the putt and stroked it ever so gently toward the hole. At about halfway, it seemed I'd gotten the pace right. "Good speed, Joe", I heard someone say. It drifted a little right and ended up a few inches past the hole. I tapped in. I'd done it. 79.
As I walked off the green, to the congratulations of my foursome, it seemed a bit unbelievable, almost anti-climactic. I had actually broken 80. For years, I'd dreamed of what that would be like, and now I was living it, walking off the 18th, with the intention of buying drinks for everyone in the bar. It had happened without any fanfare, pretty much a regular Thursday round, except for the score. The thing about golf is that you never know when that good golfer inside you is going to show up, the breaks will go your way, and you'll do something way outside your experience.
Now, to do it again!