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I had been getting a bit frustrated with golfing as of late. Been shooting somewhere in the 90s, hadn’t really been keeping score because I was too prone to some ugly ugly shots and play that discouraged me from keeping track and just trying to focus on hitting a good shot or two again.

Although towards the end of the round prior to this last weekend’s round, I began feeling a better swing again and seeing some better shots which encouraged me.

And then I went out on Saturday this last weekend. Probably the smartest thing I did was go down a bit before when I wanted to pay and go out on the course, and use that time to hit some pitch and chip shots around the practice green, and spend a little time with putting practice as well. So when I got up to the first tee, I was actually warmed up.

I parred the first hole, had a birdie putt from about 10 feet that just missed. At the second hole, I hit my longest drive so far this year, a really nice swing and strike that felt about as close to a full swing with a driver as I’ve had all year with this slowly thawing frozen shoulder. I hit my second shot up near the green and then pitched on with a lob wedge to about 15 feet away. Again just missed a birdie.

Parred the third hole and it was my favorite par of the three holes. Because I saved it with smart play. My drive had gotten a bit right and I was blocked by tree branches, so I just hit a low-running 4-iron to in front of the green with a good angle to the pin, then pitched on and left myself a 1-foot tap in for par.

Hole 4 I yanked the drive left, tried to clear a tree with a 5-iron, caught its top and found myself in the fairway bunker 145 yards out. I hit a good 6-iron and got on the green and 2-putted for a bogey.

Hole 5 I hit an ugly left hooking yank that settled down in the rough before the fairway started. I played an 8-iron to get into wedge range, and from there, hit a lob wedge that almost smacked the flagstick and came to a rest 12 feet behind the cup. I drained that for par.

Hole 6 was a bogey. My 5-iron was short of the green and my chip on ran out too far. Still, I’m thinking I might shoot a sub-40 on the front.

But then I double bogeyed hole 7. Bad drive to the left again, played out for my second, then got my next shot positioned for a wedge to the green. But I hit a fat shot with the pitching wedge and then had to wedge on with the lob wedge. 2 putts, double bogey.

So I then joked to the others, “Well I just have to make a birdie on this next hole if I want to shoot under 40.”

And I hit my best drive at 8 so far this year, and left myself about 120 yards to a front pin on the right edge of the green. I aimed about 10 feet left of the pin, and trusted that I could hit my fade with the 9-iron. It was pretty, and it came to a rest about 6 feet under the hole. Birdie.

Then with a par at 9, I had shot 3-over 39.

So I’m thinking, geeze, maybe I can do this. Maybe I can shock myself completely and shoot sub-80 without any warning by prior decent play.

But hole 10 got off to a less than stellar start. I swung the 3-wood and near completely whiffed on the ball. It trickled out a little to my left and about 6 feet in front of the tee. There was a sort of disbelief all around. In me, in my playing partners. Almost in a chorus, they all said, “Go ahead and hit another, that doesn’t count.” But I shook my head and left my ball where it lay. To hit another without proper penalty would have made empty if I had used that and gone on to shoot under 80. Because I wouldn’t have. I would have broken the rules of golf. So I let the ball lay where it was, waited for the other 3 to hit their tee shots and then I went with my 3-wood again at the ball where it was.

It wasn’t pretty, although it got a bit of distance to it, but still short of the fairway, and I’m laying 2. I’m thinking, just be smart and get out of this with a double bogey. So I then used a 5-iron to lay up to around 140 yards out, and then smacked a hard 8-iron up to the green perched atop the hill. I couldn’t see where it ended up, but I knew it was on the green and I ought to be able to two putt. When I got up there, I found I was about 10 feet with a nearly straight uphill putt. I sank that putt and escaped with bogey.

Hole 11 nearly made a biride, just lipped out.

Hole 12, should have made par, I hit a great chip shot about 3 feet past the hole, and missed that short putt.

Hole 13 was my disaster hole of the day. I hit a decent tee shot, but it was short of being far enough to get clear of the inside of the dogleg. So I hit a gap wedge to set myself up with another wedge, but I hit the sand wedge fat and had a long pitch shot to the hole. Came up about 25 feet short and 3-putted. I was now 8 over par after 13 holes. A bogey at 14 and I was 9 over par. Another disastrous 3-putt at 15 and had gone to 11 over par. Doing the calculations in my head, I joked as we got to the next tee, “Well I only need birdi-birdie-eagle and I can shoot sub 80.”

So I hit a solid drive at 16, tugged a bit left though and I could tell I was probably going to have trouble with a tree that’s on the inside of the dogleg about 110 yards from the green. Sure enough, I found my ball in the rough, 145 yards away from the center of the green. A good lie though, no trouble with that. The problem was that tree. I could tell I wouldn’t get an 8-iron high enough to clear it. The problem was it takes a hard 8-iron for me to think of going 145 yards with it. But it would have to be 9-iron. And if I wanted to get on the green, it would have to be a super hard 9-iron.

I hit the 9-iron of my life with that. The ball took off like a rocket, just barely cleared the uppermost branches of the tree and flew nearly dead on a line towards the flagstick in the back of the green. Ball landed towards the back of the green and then rolled to a stop up close to the hole.

There it was birdie.

But there ran out my magic. I bogeyed 17 and 3-putted for a bogey at 18. And so tallied an 84.

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