First Shot of the Year
by, 02-13-2009 at 05:51 PM (2255 Views)
Sports fans look forward to the first time of an event to kick off a season...
Football - Opening kickoff
Baseball - First pitch
Basketball - First tip
Hockey - First puck drop
Racing - Waving of the green flag at Daytona (Though there are other exciting races before then)
But as an active participant in athletics...my favorite part of the year is being on the tee box on the first hole of my first round of golf in the new year.
It used to be I would wait until my birthday to put on my spikes, pull the head cover of my driver, put my tee in the ground, place my Titleist Pro V1 on top of it, take a couple of practice swings, center myself with my driver's head positioned behind the ball, look down the course at a specific aiming point, look down at the ball, pull back the driver and let it rip. The sound of the club head meeting the ball in perfect sync is harmonious. Hearing that ball whizz on by and the tee pull up from the ground without a mark, knowing you nailed it, is amazing.
But today, I made an exception. An oppotunity to meet an old acquaintance/friend has arisen and I look forward to meeting him in Myrtle Beach on March 2nd. So I realized I needed to get the rust off my swing and head to the course after 8 months on inactivity.
So there I was, standing in the tee box at 1 at approximately 10:38am (had a 9am tee time, but couldn't make it). All by myself, I could relax and enjoy myself. So there I was with driver in hand just telling myself not to overhit. No greater advice can be given to someone after a layoff when in the tee box. I addressed the ball, went through my normal motions and let it go. CRACK! I knew it as soon as contact was made that I had nutted it. Sure enough, 275 yards down the course about 5 yards to the left of where I aimed. Couldn't be happier, but not because of the shot....because I was back on the golf course, where everything is right. The golf course is sacred ground. All troubles are left behind you as soon as you step foot into the clubhouse, pay your greens fee and walk to the first tee box. Trust me, all duffers know exactly what I mean.
I proceeded to par the first two holes and it felt great. The next seven holes were a fight, but I managed to have my savior (my short game and putter) to bail me out and ended my front nine only +11, which trust me, after 8 months off was a blessing. Took a quick break and headed to the tenth hole. I knew if I could start this off like I started my round, I would post a nice score. Sure enough, par on 10. Headed to 11 with major confidence. There I was on a Par 3, 148 yard hole. The pin was in the back middle of the green. I pulled out my 7 iron (normally would be my 8, but didn't want to over hit as I tend to do from the tee with short irons). Set myself up with a planned right to left fade. Hit it and stood in completely amazemebt as I watched the ball start to the right towards a sand trap and the drift to the left. The ball hit the green, hopped twice and then came to a complete halt.... 2 1/2 feet from the cup. Oh so close to my first hole-in-one. Walked down, repaired my ball mark and tapped in for birdie (my only one of the day). After that, the golf gods decided to reward me with swirling winds in excess of 25 mph. Struggled with it until I got to 18. You always want to walk off the course in good spirits so I knew I had to have this hole.
This is the trickiest hole on the course. The green has a gradual, but steep slope, so you can't spin the ball like normal. You have to put a reverse spin on it. A normal spin goes from left to right. However, on this hole, that means ended up in the drink. Most feel you should aim to the left of the green to avoid the water in front and on the right, but there's a huge sand trap waiting for you from the slightest mi**** to the left. Can't go short, left or right, how about long? Nope. If you hit it over the green, you are stuck in thick rough and any golfer will tell you that the chances of controlling a ball out of the rough is slim and dd the steep slope of the green and you have all sorts of trouble. So looking at a second shot from the fairway of around 185 yards, I went with 5 iron. Normally I would go with a 6 and let the ball run up the green, but I needed to spin the ball and get it past the hole as well. The hole placement was towards the back and to the right, basically next to the water hazard. The only way to stick the green is land it behind the flag and reverse spin it. Sure enough, I managed to pull it off. Left myself about a 20 foot putt for birdie, but the slope worried me so I just tried to get it close. Managed to get it to a foot from the cup and tapped in for par. Trust me, I wasn't complaining. Back 9 ended up being +10. So there I was out with +11 and in with +10, +21 (93). Not my best performance on a golf course, but definitely one to be proud of.
But as I said, it wasn't the score or the shots that made me happy. It was actually being on the course. There's all sorts of rushes you get in various activities, but to me, there's hardly any that compare to lacing up the spikes and playing 18 holes of golf.