We all tell stories; regardless if they have to do with fishing, basketball, hunting, or golf; we all tell stories. Generally, as the tale is retold, it gets better and better until it is on the border line of unbelievable. Over the years, I have made some fantastic shots and, well, some I would like to forget. It is human nature to remember the highlights and perhaps embellish them just a bit. Well I have a shot I thought was worth sharing and I promise not to embellish it…..much!
I have 3 holes in one over the years and you think that one of those would be the best shot I ever made, but actually it is not. Those are great memories, but they were shots made during a round that happen to go in the hole. I have chipped in from the fairway, but those again, were not anything special except for lowering my golf score. The best shot I ever made did not actually go in the hole.
What I believe was my best shot happened about 25 years ago. I was playing in a tournament to select our military base in the Ontario Regionals. It was the first time I was contending in this event and I was playing against my mentor Bobby Fortune. After shooting a 70, 76 on the first two days, I had a 4 stroke lead going into the final round. I was also playing head to head against Bobby and let me tell you the pressure was immense.
We were on the par 3, 17th hole. It was not an overly long hole at 165 yards, but there was enormous tree guarding the right side of the green and of course, the pin was tucked behind the tree about 25 yards from its base. I was tied with Bobby and he had the honours. As I have described before, Bobby was my mentor and his course management skills far exceeded mine as I was apprentice and he was the master.
He hit a safe 7 iron to the left side of the green about 25 feet from the pin. It was the perfect shot and he was setup for yet another birdie. At the time, I remember thinking clearly and mulling over my options. I kept thinking to myself, if I make the difficult shot that results in a birdie, I had a chance to win. If I miss, I finished second and still make the team and Bobby will be team captain as everyone expects.
I decided to go for it. I pulled my 6 iron and decided to draw the ball into the pin. If I missed this shot, I would be in long rough short sided to the pin. There was very high risk, but at the time, the reward was greater. You have to understand that I was just starting to improve my game it was the first time I had an opportunity to win against my mentor.
I took my time, went through my pre-shot routine and committed to the shot. The contact sounded pure and my ball was perfectly on-line. The only thing left was distance. We did not see my ball land because of the mounds beside the tree, but experience told us that my shot looked perfect. As I bent down to pick up my tee, Bobby said “nice shot” as he walked towards the green. In excited anticipation, I walked (actually almost sprinted) towards the green almost holding my breath every step of the way.
As my ball came into sight, I realized it was tight. But, I did not want to be overly confident because sometimes balls look close for a distance, but as we get closer, it is not as close as we hoped. In my case, it was as close as I hoped. My ball came to rest 12 inches just past the hole!
After Bobby two putted and I one putted, I was one up going home. We both tied the last hole and as result of my shot on 17, I was the team captain at the Ontario Regionals that year. It was a highlight of my golfing career and Bobby, ever the gentlemen, congratulated me and talked about how I was reaching the next level in my game after his 4 years of mentoring. For interest, Bobby shot an even par 72 and I shot 75 on the last day.
This one shot changed many aspects of my golf game. It taught me that I could play well under pressure, properly assess the risk / reward of a shot, and when to press if the reward is great enough. It is a shot I remember and one of my best, not because it went into the hole, but because it had a tremendous and long-reaching impact on my golf game.
Do you have such a shot?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog.