Anatomy Of a Birdie
Teeing off on the sixth hole, the weekend golfer wasn't thinking about anything other than the task at hand. The round had started off okay as he stood at four over par after five holes. While that may sound bad when compared to professional golf scores, or even top amateurs, it was just fine to this part-time player with an 18 handicap.
So, when he took his swing with his driver and saw the ball doing a slight hook to the left, it didn't seem like anything special. Not enough of a hook to cause trouble or disappear into the woods, but enough that it would land in the rough. Our golfer calmly placed the head cover back on his driver, placed it back in the proper slot in his bag, and started pulling the cart to the approximate place where he believed the ball ended its journey.
Having traveled 225 yards to this spot, the man was pleasantly surprised when he checked out where the ball rested in comparison to the flag stick. This par four hole was relatively short - 355 yards from the white tees to the center of the green. That was where the flag was placed on this day, evidenced by the dingy white flag on top of the stick to indicate the cup was in the center of the green. He sized up the shot, pictured the path the ball would take on that path to the cup, and started his shot routine.
His weapon of choice for this chapter was the nine iron. He had been making good shots with this club as of late, but they were usually shorter than the distance required. One hundred yards was the average length of his shot with this club. The mental aspects of golf can be so much harder than the actual striking of the ball that he decided not to over-think this one. Since the nine iron had been so good to him, he pulled it out.
He took two practice swings, addressed the ball, and swung. True to the earlier vision, the sphere made a perfect parabola toward the flag stick. Because of the uphill slope, however, exactly where the ball landed was a mystery. It would be solved soon.
It only took three huge steps up the slope, as he was excited after hitting a perfect-looking shot. Some of the enthusiasm was dampened, however, when he saw the ball's resting spot. It was a mixture of good news and bad news. The good news was that the path he saw was true - the ball took that straight path from rough to a landing spot on the green. The bad news was the landing spot was thirty feet away from the hole. Darn the bad luck, he thought, just couldn't get enough juice on that shot.
Staying in the mindset of not to over think anything, he grabbed his putter after settling the pull cart near the green and took off his glove. Ever since he played his first round, he just liked the feel of the putter in bare hands. Walking to the spot of the ball after removing the flag, he took a quick glance of the surface and slope of the green. Here, our golfer caught a break as the green looked clear and flat. Late fall golf can have some adventures while putting when fallen leaves litter the green. Fortunately, here there were none along that road to the cup.
He grasped his putter and lined up the little white line to the center of the cup. He went into his pre-putt routine of lining up the putt, stepping back and taking two practice strokes, moving the club back behind the ball, loosing his grip on the putter then re-gripping, and finally the stroke.
That stroke was true and he felt it. He watched the ball roll along, the swoosh from the brand on the ball having endured the force of the collision between club face and ball surface. The ball stayed on path to the cup, not straying one millimeter from that path until it fell to the bottom of the cup.
Our golfer was overjoyed! He pumped his fist vigorously, wore a huge smile and took a few happy steps to pick the ball up out of the cup. When he replaced the flag stick, the moment of joy was over. This isn't to say there was no afterglow as he kept smiling. But his mind was immediately onto the next hole. This was a brief adventure - the sixth chapter in which nine would be written. But this chapter had one of the happiest endings that can happen on the golf course.