Archive for Thursday, June 15, 2006

Column: Troubles begin at first hole

June 15, 2006

Is it just me, or is golf a really hard game to play when you are just trying to have fun, but still remain competitive?

I am the type of person that enjoys being active in sports, while trying to have fun with friends and family. But I am also the type of person that doesn't like to play bad at something and, worst of all, I hate losing anything.

I know it sounds like the typical competitive guy and it probably is. I do understand there are times when I am going to lose, but most of the time I play to win.

Many of my friends and family can agree to this, because I am too competitive in everything. But that's just my nature.

But, as I was saying in the beginning, the game of golf really brings out the worst in me. I get very frustrated by trying to hit that stupid little white ball and because of my ability, I do not shoot well enough to win, which really gets me fired up.

My goal for the summer was to improve my golf game and the only way I know how to get better is play. So, I have been out to the golf course several times this season.

I have played a few rounds of nine holes at the Alvamar Orchards course, two rounds at Eagle Bend and 18 holes at the Overland Park Country Club.

The main course for me this summer has been the Orchards course in Lawrence, because it's nine holes, a shorter course and it's fairly inexpensive.

I have been out there on a few occasions trying to improve my game and have actually been getting better each time I go. I am not going to reveal my scores, to avoid being humiliated, sorry.

In late May, I played an 18-hole scramble with members of my extended family at Overland Park. We played the day before my cousin's wedding, which has become a three-year tradition. I have a few more cousins to get married, so it should continue for a few more years.

We broke into teams and had a fun time playing each other. My team actually used my shots quite a few times, especially my drives. I was hitting them in the fairway, so my shots were chosen as the best ball.

Overall, I played a pretty good round, even though we kept no individual scores. I left there that day feeling confident about how I played, which doesn't happen often.

I usually leave a golf course sweaty, tired, grumpy and with a few less golf balls. I did leave with fewer golf balls and tired, but I left happy with my performance.

Then came my 18 holes at Eagle Bend on Sunday. That was a totally different story and the motivation for this column.

I went out to Eagle Bend for a round of golf with a couple friends for my birthday. I thought it would be a fun way to spend my morning. Boy, was I ever wrong.

We just happened to be playing on the same day as a tournament, so we teed off on hole No. 5, which was strange.

My first hole went bad and I continued to hit on top of the ball. I'm not sure why though. I had a terrible time making good contact with that little white ball, no matter what brand of ball I used.

I lost many balls during my first nine holes and I also racked up lots of strokes. It may have been my worst nine holes of golf, ever. I was trying to have fun with my friends, because they were playing well. One player even chipped a ball in the hole from about 50 or 60 yards out on the fairway.

I was driving my cart around the green, so I missed the shot. But I walked up to the cup and there the ball was, it was amazing for our caliber of golf.

After the first nine holes, my game did begin to improve. I had two chances to sink a birdie putt, but missed both times. Neither shot was close, but I was very happy with a par.

I began to have fun the last few holes because I was playing better and I realized I had no shot of winning the round. I hate losing, but if I am out of contention, then it's all right to be goofy and have fun.

Our round ended with a playoff hole, because the other two people were tied after 18. We replayed hole No. 5 for the playoff. Since I had no shot of winning, I decided to use my 8-iron on the entire par 4 hole.

I shot a six on the hole using my 8-iron on every shot, including the green. Let me tell you, putting with an iron is not easy, but I made it look fairly simple.

I left the course that day disappointed with my round, but I did take a couple positive things away. I was playing very well with my irons, especially the 5-iron and 8-iron. I also putted very well Sunday.

My new goal for golf this summer is to have fun and not worry about my score as much. If my shots keep improving, that's all I can ask for. I am not good and won't be until I have the money and time to play more.

Maybe I will see you out on the course this summer, maybe even out at the Baldwin "west dunes" course. If you have any tips for me, let me know, I could use a few. Or a lot.

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