Give me boring golf. I'm down with that. Nothing wrong with par - I'll take 18 of 'em and never once complain.
But it is interesting, something that I've found interesting my entire time playing golf, just how quickly things can change. Case in point... 2010, I'm playing in the club championship, the championship flight. I was a 2 handicap at the time, decent player, nothing great... didn't hit the ball too long, but I did hit it straight. Irons were okay, but nothing spectacular. I never hit these impressive, towering irons, where the ball just falls out of the sky like a sack of potatoes and lands softly on the green. I was more of a medium-to-low ball hitter. The only time I would ever get in trouble was when I'd try to hit the ball high. Well... there you go - trying to do something you can't do. So don't do that. I learned that early on in my playing experience, and it's served me well over the years. The fact of the matter is that I hit the ball plenty high enough, it's just not quite as pretty as some of these shots that some of these younger, tall lanky kids can muster with much more club head speed. But I did three things exceptionally well, despite being little better than "average" with just about everything else. My short game was excellent. My putting was even more excellent. And I managed my game very well... didn't ever find the need to risk a miraculous shot when I knew I stood a very good chance of wedging it close and making a putt to save par. And that is really a seldom talked about good byproduct of a good short game - it helps you make better decisions and makes it much easier to manage your game - that confidence.
Anyway... the club championship - it was incredibly windy the first day. We're talking 20+ mph winds. But it actually felt good, despite the challenge. It was in the middle of a hot summer. So we're playing every last inch of the course, they've got the tips moved all the way back, and it seemed like every hole location was back-right that day. 6800 yards, playing more like 7200. And every freaking hole seemed to be dead into the wind, one of those days.
I'm plugging along, grinding, scratching, clawing... still making the odd bogey here and there, but given the conditions - not bad. I managed a nice run on the back, shot level par coming in, shooting 75 on the day. It was a good round for me, especially considering the windy conditions. But I was certain there would be a few 69's or 70's out there by some of the guys. It was a pretty good field of players, and you just figure that these guys are right there.
Turns out - the next lowest round that afternoon was 80. The scoring average in our flight was somewhere around 83 or 84. Guess what Lefty - you've got a 5-shot lead heading into tomorrow's final round. You get to sleep in, have breakfast, and get to the course ready to take on the world.
Now I'd won the club championship there two years earlier. I already had a feather in my hat so to speak, it wasn't like this was my first rodeo. I'd played a lot of tournament golf that year and was peaking at just the right time, made a tricky, sweaty, nerve-racking little 4-footer on the final hole to win by a single stroke, got my name on the board in the clubhouse. As Frankie sang back in '62, "No, they can't take that away from me..."
Well... the way I played the next day - they should've taken it away from me. Totally different conditions, not a gust of wind, we're talking perfect...
I shot 89 that final round. And the really sad part is I shot level-par on the back. 53-36 = 89.
Oh well. As Frankie once again sang 7 years later, at least "I did it my way."
God that was embarrassing.
Oh, I could chase like a mad man, you could be 5-up on me early in the match and I'd eventually wear you down and catch you, then beat you into submission. But my first experience playing with the lead? Wow. That was different. And it's part of the reason why I tend to bite my tongue and measure my words when I'm commenting about a tour player who goes into Sunday with a big lead and then shoots 74 and loses. I know that guy. That day - I was that guy. It's a horrible feeling.
Anyway.... 48 hours later, same course, playing with a couple of buddies for a few bucks - nary a bogey... birdie the four par5's, shoot a ho-hum 68. Same guy. Totally different environment.
And that, my friends, is how you learn the invaluable art of humility playing this crazy ass game. LOL