The Path to Golf Mastery

“Cameron … tell me about your golfing story and how you can help me?”

Let’s start here…

I was on the 11th green, playing a match for my golf team. I was 6 down. Fair to say things weren’t going to plan. Worse, I was the hot favourite, playing at my home club. I was frustrated, not because I wasn’t playing that well (I was only 1 over for the day, the guy I was playing was 5 under) but because I just couldn’t get anything going.

I had just lost the 10th hole – a perfect drive, nice looking approach that faded at the last second, it only just caught the bunker. From here the bunker shot was ok but the putt for par slipped by. The opponent, doing what he had done all day, made a par from the trees.

Things were looking better on 11. He had a long putt for par. I was almost certainly in for mine and I watched this hot player line up his 25 footer.

“Surely he can’t make it”, I thought. He had made every putt he had looked at. He stroked the putt and it rolled smoothly over the green. No spikes marks or imperfections, these greens were perfect. It went in. Again.

Something was different. I was calm and focussed. Normally I’d be feeling edgy but surprisingly my mind was still. I calmly placed my ball and rolled it into the back of the cup.

On the way to the 12th my caddy gave me a new ball. This signified something, what, I’m not sure. I was 6 down with seven holes to play, but there was still hope.

We were both on the 12th green in regulation. I was below the hole, sitting pretty on this exceptionally fast green. The opponent, I think his name was Adam, was coming downhill with a hint of right to left break. Adam was away, and I watched in amazement as it looked like he made yet another long putt. At the last instant the putt dove sharply left to just (only just) miss the hole. It was a great putt from a guy that was certainly on his game.

I was still alive, but only just.

My putt for birdie was boring. It was never going in but it finished close enough to the hole to be conceded. Adam’s first putt had slipped that uncomfortable distance past the hole – I was going to concede, but thought I had nothing to loose.

It was almost a moment of desperation. Defiance if you will. “If you’re going to come to my course and give me a thrashing, then I’m going to make you putt this little putt. Go for it Champ!”.

He missed. I couldn’t believe it. The putt was less than 3 feet and he didn’t hit the hole. Was this a chink in the armour?

The 13th was a new par 3. It was a controversial hole because the original hole was a classic on the Sandbelt. Encroaching houses had seen liability issues so the line of play had been amended. Not sure why a net couldn’t have been installed, not only saving tens of thousands of dollars, but also protecting a classic golf hole. Golf Clubs work in mysterious ways sometimes.

The hole was tough (I say “was” because this beast has since been replaced, again, due to too many complaints). The green was raised and also sat at a strange angle. There was a deep bunker to the front right and another at the rear left. Directly in front of the playing line was a large swale.

The approach had to be perfect. Too far left or right and you were in a bunker. Too short and you’d hit the swale and be stuck there. And most demanding of all, if you were even slightly long, the ball would run way down the embankment and you’d have the most difficult of difficult recoveries. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the green was rock hard.

Most at my Club hated this hole. It was just too difficult for the average punter but I had a special way of playing it.

I could hit my favourite shot, a low draw which was perfectly suited. My left-handed spin could see the ball avoid the bunkers (and swale), bounce short of the green and then roll on. And over the years I got good at playing this shot, could almost certainly rely on it to get the ball onto the green – any green.

“My” shot could get extreme – it would start way to the left and then hook back to the right. I didn’t care. This shot was my “go to” shot and it got me out of a lot of trouble. Now was another time.

To be continued.

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