Last year, my USGA index skyrocketed to embarrassing heights and I scrambled for excuses in this year end post of 2012. And then I played the same type of schedule in 2013 and dropped down to my pre-season goal of a handicap in the 8’s, finishing at an 8.8. So I guess all my logic from last year didn’t hold water. Out of about 35 rounds, at least 20 were on courses new to me and I shaved 4 strokes off anyway. Only five rounds crept into the 90’s, and two of those were in February when I only had one working wrist. But only two rounds snuck into the 70’s, one of which won me $200. So now I’ve settled into a low 80’s threat in the midst of what are supposedly my prime physical years (though at the moment I look more like the “before” pic). So then what changed?
Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, WA
Tee Time: May 20, 2013, 9:15, 66 F, light wind
Designer: Robert Trent Jones, Jr (2007)
Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Pat Spomer, Thomas
Tees: Sand, Par 72 (72.4 rating/135 slope/6,513 yards)
Course Handicap: 14 (11.6 index)
Stats: 94 (48-46); 41 putts; 9/14 fairways; 5/18 greens; 0 penalty strokes
In 2015, the US Open will be held here at Chambers Bay. You’ll see stunning visuals of sailboats and yachts out on the Puget Sound. Countless slow pans of the lone Douglas Fir behind the 15th hole. Maybe even some Jimmy Roberts pieces about the site’s history as a gravel mine. It will look great on television and be one of the most unique majors in recent memory. But nothing compares to actually walking these links. Spending four hours hiking up and down the natural contours of the course, taking in the unmatched scenery with every stride and breathing in the refreshing sea air is hands down the best experience I’ve had yet on this young journey. High above the golf course sits the clubhouse and restaurant, with a panoramic view of the premises as well as an excellent club sandwich. Just be dead sure you have your valuables safely hidden in your vehicle before walking into the pro shop, where there will always be a line of customers purchasing various memorabilia. After checking in, a shuttle will transport you down to the practice range and the rest of the course, dropping off right by the snack shack. The quick bus ride down to this golf playground hauling all your gear gets the adrenaline going in much the same way that taking the gondola up the mountain up with skis in tow does, knowing an awesome day awaits.
So in 2012 I got a new job, new car, moved into a new house, published a book and got a black lab puppy (which I now know can be more exhausting than a new job, new car, new house and publishing a book). Despite all that, I still managed to log over 30 rounds of golf and get to 5 new states. Now that all that craziness is over I can get around to focusing on playing better golf in 2013. I did start ’12 as an 8.5 and rocketed all the way up to a 13.2 before settling at my current 12.5. That’s not acceptable, and my new goal is to work that down to an 8.0. I’m not a man to make excuses, but if I were, they’d go something like this:
- Out of those 30+ rounds, only 6 were on courses I had played before. A wise man I played with at Lookout Mountain mentioned that just knowing a course can save 4-5 strokes. I agree, which is why it’s my fake excuse #1.
- I did get brand new irons and a new 3-wood, which took a few rounds to get adjusted to. But I do love those Cleveland TA7’s and the Taylor Made Rocketballz.
- I was hungover during 1 or 2 rounds, possibly.
- I’m pretty sure the holes at the Stadium Course in La Quinta were smaller than the specified 4-1/4″. Yeah, that’s it.
- Raising a puppy is exhausting.
- According to the Chineze Zodiac calendar, it was the Year of the Dragon. We Tigers don’t play our best golf during years of the Dragon, Rat or Rabbit. So sayeth ancient Chinese folklore (see author’s illustration below).
What about 2013 then? I still expect it to contain the required 20+ rounds of desert golf as I remain a resident of Arizona. But I still need 5 new states. I’ve got a few ideas and what my odds are of actually getting there.