I have made some ugly shots over the years. I do not ever remember missing the ball, but whatever is next on the rug of poor shots, I was there. However, I can say that none of those really compare to what I consider my worst shot ever in a golf tournament. To describe the setting, I have to set the clock back about 30 years to a military regional competition I played in Kingston. To this day, I am still embarrassed that I played such an ugly shot. Let me explain!
Seven military teams congregated in Kingston, Ontario, to vie for the provincial pennant. The winner of this prized flag proudly displays it at their home base for all to see; at the time I was playing for CFB Borden. Now for the background.
After working my game down to about an 8 handicap, I won the base playdowns against my mentor and was selected as the team captain. This was a tremendous honour for me because I beat Bobby Fortune, the number one player in the Canadian Armed Forces at that time (and for the one and only time in my golfing career!). As such, I was seeded number 1 out of Borden that year. My success at the Base level also provided the additional honour of teeing off 3rd in front of a crowd of 75 players and spectators.
Well let me tell you, I was so nervous teeing off in front of all those people. Before I even finished my warm-up, I was inside my head. My heart started to race and my hands were sweating. This was not a great way for the number 1 player to walk to the tee. As they mentioned my name to step up to the tee, I was deep in a pit of anxiousness looking for an escape route!
I took two deep breaths and started my pre-shot routine. Usually, this calms my nerves and sets my mind and body in the right state to hit the ball. Unfortunately, as I stood over the ball, things became worse. I actually could not see the ball clearly; everything was fuzzy. What I should have done was step back from the ball and start again. But, not being able to think clearly, I swung at the ball anyway.
Fortunately, I hit the ball! Unfortunately, I topped it and hooked it at the same time. My ball hit the ground about 15 yards in front of the tee and rolled another 10 yards. The crowd went completely silent. They collectively held their breath and waited for me to walk off the tee with my clubs. I can honestly say that if this happened today, I would loudly comment and release the tension right away and be done with it. But, back then, this was catastrophic!
Hitting my second shot from 365 yards away from the green was not how I wanted to start my first regional as a team captain. However, I regrouped. I hit a stellar 3-wood to about 125 yards out. A 9-iron to 15 feet and then drained the putt! I walked off with a par! Best par ever!
This first hole is the one I remember as my worst and best shots in golf. I still cringe thinking about my first shot and smile warmly thinking of the next three. What makes this hole so memorable was what happened after the round in the clubhouse. You know everyone asked how I scored and (okay, my answer has improved over the years), I calmly said par, what did you get? I am sure it was not exactly like that, but that is how I choose to remember it. Just for interest sake, I finished 3rd that year at Regionals. Guess who the winner was – Yup, Bobby Fortune!
Do you remember your best and worst shots in a golf tournament?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!