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The almost unexpected

All year long, my golf game has been erratic. I’ve been capable of putting together some decent holes, then crapping out a string of cruddy holes. I’ve been scoring low to mid 90s mostly, sometimes getting in the upper 80s and sometimes stinking it up into the 100s.

But I suppose the last few weekends I’ve been out there, it seemed like a certain thought was working well for me, if I used it, to let me hit the ball solid and mostly straight. Not perfect, of course, because I’ll never be good enough to hit perfect to near-perfect shots, but very noticeable on how good the results would be so long as I had that thought in mind during my pre-shot routine and during the shot. 

So I went out for a round of golf this afternoon, as usual, by myself, open to joining up with anyone who might have the misfortune of crossing my path. I didn’t warm up any, didn’t play the 1st hole terribly, but screwed up a bit with a 3-putt double bogey. I then parred the second hole, the birdie putt just coming up about an eighth of an inch short of being a birdie. I parred the 3rd and 4th holes, then bogeyed the fifth, putting me 3 over par and I then joined up with a couple of guys waiting to play at the 6th. 

Feeling a bit nervous at having my swings being witnessed, I slowed myself down and reminded myself of that swing key which had been working well. I hit a great shot, tracking right towards the flag, but a strong breeze knocked it down some, and I was on the front of the green with the flag in the back. I 3-putted from there for bogey. At 7, I 3-putted again for bogey. At 8, I made bogey. Then I parred the 9th hole and finished my front-9 in 43.

Still, I was feeling good. The 3-putts were frustrating, but I was fairly pleased that I was striking the ball solidly for the most part, the ball was flying pretty straight most of the time towards the target.

Hole 10, I smack the drive and almost right away just reach down and get tee out of the ground. I knew where it was going. I then put the pitching wedge on the green, 2 putts and par.

Hole 11, short hole, I hit hybrid to put in the fairway, straight down the middle. I hit the second shot a touch fat, then didn’t chip well, 2 putts, bogey.

Hole 12, not a great drive, but down the middle. I hit the long second shot really pure, too pure, it ran through the green and off the back. I got it up and down for par.

Hole 13, I smack the hybrid with the draw I wanted and get it set up for a 7-iron into the green. I set it up to hit a draw, started it at the right-center of the green, but it didn’t draw much. Still, easy 2-putt, par.

Hole 14, 7-iron, tiny fade towards the pin on the right side of the green, nice little 8-foot putt and a birdie.

That’s when I noticed if I got even par the rest of the way, I would shoot 79.

Hole 15, smack the driver perfect, reach down for my tee while the ball is still flying. Hit a great second shot with the hybrid. Then hit the lob wedge a tiny bit fat, it catches the front bunker. I don’t hit a great bunker shot but it gets on the green. 2 putts and bogey.

Hole 16, good tee shot, terrible second and third shots, but lucky enough I’ve a par putt from about 4 feet down hill and hard break right. I sink it calmly.

Hole 17, pin’s on the left. I go through my routine, set it up to start the ball at the center of the green and draw it back to the hole. I nail it. Maybe too good because it ends up about 20 feet past the hole. 2 putts and par.

Hole 18, smash drive, not a bad second shot, decent wedge on to the green, 2 putts and closing par. 37 on the back, 80 total. 80. Almost broke 80.

I was so calm during it all. I felt so good. I knew I could hit those shots. I didn’t hit them all, but I hit a lot of them. And no matter what happened, I went to the next shot and played it without fear. I walked off 18 in a strange combo of belief and disbelief. Disbelief that after this year I went out and fired an 80, with a 1 over par 37 on the back.

Belief in how I felt it. I knew what the good swing felt like. That I could play. It’s a feeling I’ve rarely known. It’s almost as good as being in love and knowing it beyond any doubt.

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