There can be many different endings to this question. The direction I am heading deals with a low score playing poorly or a higher score playing great. I assure you that this questioning look you are making right now is nothing new when I pose this question to myself from time to time. I guess the real answer to my quandary is it depends. I realize that this is an evasive answer, but that is the truth of it. If I had to answer, I would choose playing great with a slightly higher score. But, how is this even possible?
The root of my question focuses on playing golf courses in challenging weather/course conditions or the course is a beast to play. In either situation, I can play my best game and still not score my lowest score. In fact this has happened many times in my past, but I will only recount a couple of examples because I am sure you have your own story to tell.
I remember about 18 years ago I was playing in Golf Regionals at Hartlen Point in Shearwater, Nova Scotia. This is a military base course and we were fortunate enough to play a 54 hole event on an extremely well kept track. Unfortunately, Hartlen Point had not received any rain in two weeks prior to our arrival. Being a coastal course, this lack of water hardened everything to a point where controlling distance on shots was an extreme challenge.
The greens were not receptive and approach shots were akin to The Open at St Andrews. We had to run everything up from about 30 to 40 yards out and hopefully stop our ball on the green. I knew I was in a bit of trouble when I hit my 5 iron, 235 yards from my location. That is 180 yards in the air and a 55 yard roll! Of course every hole was not like this, but at least 14 proved very difficult; this course was ‘bone dry’! (On a side note, I finished 4th overall with an average of 76 stokes per day)
I was playing great golf at the time and I was very happy with my stroke average because I know that left nothing on the golf course. Hitting the ball the way I was, I feel that my stroke average would have dropped by three and I would have been in the running to win. This is a case where the course conditions stressed every part of my game and I believe I responded.
My second example encompasses a course I played that was not long, but took all my course management efforts to play well. It is a course in Sudbury called Cedar Greens Golf Course. I played the forward tees that measured 5800 yards. The fairways were narrow, tee shots blind and greens undulating. Every shot required thought and precision. It was the most fun I had on a golf course all year. I was playing in a two person match play event and we played very well considering our lack of knowledge of the track. My focus on distance and angle of approach for each shot was the fun part of each hole. Cedar Green was by far the most challenging course I played in 2021.
Anytime I have to focus and ‘grind’ during a round, I like those rounds the most. They offer a greater challenge both mentally and physically. When I play golf, I like to have at least half of my rounds through they year challenge my ability to adjust to and hopefully overcome a challenging round. So, I ask you again: What is more important in golf?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!