Hopefully you have all had a chance to get refreshed and rest up for the last nine Youche memories. You can check out the Front Nine here, and you can make a stop at the half way house (figuratively) here. Without further ado, let’s tee off.
#10) The Halfway House
One of my favorite parts about golf is the snacks. (What a shock, me enjoying junk food!) To me, there is something about the midway point of a round of golf that equals food. Usually this is appropriate because when people play golf, the midway point tends to end up around lunch time. Although I have been now to still hit up the halfway house for a hamburger or bratwurst, despite it only being 10am.
The halfway house at Youche is not particularly large or flashy, but it sure hits the spot. The most popular item in my view tends to be the frozen candy bars, which are particularly appreciated on those very hot summer days. Bu the best part is that the halfway house is not just a halfway house. Because of Youche’s layout it is more of an “every couple of holes” house. Not that I have treated it as such. Back in the day, when when my brothers and I were there by ourselves, our parents limited our snack consuming. Now, as a wiser and more calorie conscious adult, I limit my intake on my own. But, its comforting to know that if I need a snack at a moments notice, that little house of goodness is there.
#11) Where Am I?
It is 2011. The new holes at Youche have been around for about 3 golf seasons now. Despite that, I still struggle to remember which hole is which. I spend a lot of time asking my dad and others to clarify what hole they are talking about by asking them to refer to it by it’s old number. Since the change (technically since the second change because the new holes technically opened towards the end of a golf season and the club decided on one way of going through the course temporarily, but then changed it in the offseason to its current setup), I have played the course a good number of times, yet I can only think in old numbers.
My dad (and my uncle, who is also a member) seems to do well in speaking of the new numbers off the top of his head. I am assuming most of the other members do as well. It makes me wonder, how long does it take to retrain your brain for a pattern like a golf course layout? How many times do you have to play the new layout before the numbers stick in your brain? (Makes me ask the same question about the new Facebook layout…) The flip side is also a fascinating question. Is there a point in time when will forget exactly what the old layout was? When you have played the course so much that your brain deletes the old layout as useless data? Maybe it will always be there like some many other pieces of
useless wonderfully quirky trivia. (Do you know who the first person killed in the Boston Massacre was? I do!) On the plus side, I think I have figured out my life’s new ambition, to see how many times I have to play Youche in order to reset the pattern in my brain. I better get swinging.
#12) “Don’t hit it in the water!”
Ridiculous outfits and even more ridiculous swings are just some of the myriad reasons to have a good laugh on the golf course. One of the funniest and most ironic moments I have witnessed on a golf course happened many years ago on hole #12. (Hey look at me, I used the new hole number!)
#12 is a par 4 where the tee box is somewhat elevated and has a small area of water which sits right in front of it about 20 yards away. While I would have expected to happen more often, I have only seen one person hit the ball into that small water hazard.
Awhile my dad and I were playing with my best friend from the neighborhood and his dad, Mr. H (who used to be a member, too). Mr H. is a great guy and a decent golfer. He is the kind of guy who likes to joke and doesn’t mind trying to get in your head a little bit during a competition. I was the first to tee off. As I got out of the cart and went to set up for my drive, Mr. H must have reminded me no less than 50 times, not to screw up and hit the ball into the water. I was determined not to do it, although slightly scared that I would fall victim to his Jedi mind tricks. Luckily, I was up to the challenge and drove the ball safely away from the tiny area of water. I picked up my tee and stepped back totally satisfied with myself, but not smug enough to point out my success.
Soon, it was Mr. H’s turn to hit. I was not at all good enough to try to turn the tables on him and try to get in his head. It wasn’t until just a few moments before he was about to go into his backswing that I though to myself, “Wouldn’t it be funny if Mr. H topped one right in to the water?” No sooner did I think it that did it actually happen. Just like in a movie. Cue laugh track.
If you ask me if I am superstitious, I will say no. Walking under a ladder, no problem. Stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, I’m sure mom will be okay. I have no problems with the number 13 or Friday the 13th. But when it comes to sports, that’s a different story.
Sure, there were many times in my athletic career that I wore the number 13 with pride and no concern for tempting the fates. But, there are also countless times that I have been unable to move from a give chair in the living room because the Cubs were rallying in a big game or a football game was going the way I wanted. In some instances, golf is the same way.
For awhile, Brian used to be a firm believer in the “tee to ball” relationship having a direct effect on his driving relationship. My dad cannot use red golf tees nor golf balls with a number 3 on it (although technically, he apparently picked this up from my grandfather.) Me, I only have one golf superstition. Don’t get your shoes cleaned before a big match.
As mentioned before, my dad and I have won the Youche Invitational twice. The one time we lost is because we got our shoes cleaned in the locker room the night before the first day of matches. At the time we didn’t think anything of it. Our shoes were dirty and it is a free service of the club. We felt like we were at a fancy event, so why not have clean shoes? Of course, we went out that year, didn’t play particularly well and lost.
Fast forward to 2009. The practice round is over and we are about to leave the locker room and go home. My dad looks at me and says we should leave our shoes behind for cleaning so we can look fresh for tomorrow. Without any thought, my immediate response was “NO!” I plainly but forcibly told him that we got our shoes cleaned the previous year and we lost. Therefore, we clearly cannot get our shoes cleaned this year. We didn’t do it 2008 when we won our flight. If we want to win, we can’t mess with fate.
My dad is a very smart and sensible man. To his credit, I will never truly know if he thought I was a raving lunatic or just delusional, but he didn’t hesitate in the face of my ridiculous logic. he went along with my mild craziness and we went on to win our group again. So of course, I am never going to have my golf shoes cleaned ever again.
#14) My Home Course
I never really thought that being familiar with a course was the key to playing a good round of golf. Maybe it is because I have never been that good so familiarity probably never mattered. But I do play consistently better at Youche than I do at any other golf course and old hole #14 typifies why.
A little bit of this is being familiar with the course. But luckily, my “home course” is also set up rather well for me to succeed. The course is not excruciatingly long, so that when I invariably make a mistake, I can quickly make up for it. While driving accuracy is important, if you are wildly inaccurate (as I usually am) you don’t get punished too badly. Because the holes are closely packed together, wildly sliced drives result only in being one (or two) fairways away instead of out of bounds (and taking a penalty stroke). And at this point, I have been in all of those bad places so I have figured out some stroke saving work-arounds. I guess being at home has its benefits.
The most elusive shot for a golfer is the hole-in-one. Most golfers play for a lifetime and never hit one. Mainly it is a shot that relies almost exclusively on luck and there is almost no skill involved, which pretty much explains why I once hit a hole-in-one on old #15.
It was on my dad’s birthday and it was just the two of us. I had been having a rather unremarkable round up until that point. I was playing fine, but I definitely wasn’t “in the zone” or anything that tipped me off that something remarkable would soon happen. As soon as I hit the ball, I knew I hit the ball well and it even had a nice draw in towards the hole. But I was worried that I hit the ball short. As my dad and I watched the ball come down, we still didn’t have a clue as to what was about to happen, it just looked like a very good shot. As the ball started to plummet back to earth, it seemed like it was going to be right at the hole, but short. I watched the ball come down and was shocked by what happened next. There was a strange buzzing noise and then the ball disappeared from view. I thought to myself that the ball must have hit something metallic in the low area in front of the green. But then I started to realize that there was no gully in front of the green to disappear into. At about the same time, my dad and I realized that it must have gone straight into the hole. I was dumbfounded and my body went numb. I kept mumbling that “I think I just hit a hole-in-one!” but it was so surreal. So we raced up to the hole to verify what had happened. As expected the ball was nowhere in sight on or in front of the green. When we got up to the hole we found this sight:
Interestingly, I became the third member of the family to have an ace on this hole on the course. My father had his hole-in-one on this hole and my grandfather has one of his two hole-in-ones on this hole as well. (My grandmother also has a hole-in-one at Youche, but it was at a different hole.) Looks like Matt and Brian need to step it up. I just hope I am there to see it. Maybe we should all play there more often to make sure this happens.
#16) The Best Golf Shot I Have Ever Seen
Speaking of my brothers, old #16 is the sight of the best golf shot I have ever seen in person. For reference, this hole is a rather long par 5 which is shaped like a boomerang, going out to the right and then coming back towards the left around a large lake. If you hit a good drive straight, you end up right in the lake. If you hit it really well you can make it over the lake. Most people play it safe and hit it well to the right and avoid the water, but also making it a much longer hole. But one fateful day, Matt played it just right.
Matt lined up his drive and hit a beautiful and powerful shot. At first it appeared that it was going to come down in a pretty good spot cutting off just a sliver of the lake. But then it started to ever so gently turn. It was curling up the far arm of the boomerang. It hit the ground safely on the other side and rolled. And it kept rolling and rolling and rolling and rolling. It was following the bend of the lake, like it was taking a brisk walk on the beach. the ball ended up past the entire lake. I had never seen anyone hit the ball so far on that hole and I still haven’t. From that point, he could have rolled the ball by hand on to the green, which he essentially did.
Just don’t ask what happened after that.
#17) Deja vu
The thing about playing a course so often and having an inconsistent game is that you expect that you would find yourself in all sorts of different locations on the course from round to round, because you just don’t have great control of exactly where the ball is going to go. Apparently, my game is consistently inconsistent because for many years, I could predictable be in the same handful of horrible places on a number of holes on the course. In the bed of pine needles across the cart path from old #17. In the trees at the edge of the lake on old #9 (imagining I could actually hit the ball over the lake and onto the green). In the trees on old #12 at the edge of the lake (I am sensing a theme here!) Teeing off on old #4 but being on the 6th fairway. Teeing off on old #3 and landing in no man’s land behind the green of old #2. 150 yards away on old #14, behind the sand traps having to somehow curl the ball left around the outcropping of trees to get the green (yet always ending up in the dinky cluster of trees to the right, well short of the green).
I think about this every time I play old #17. I sort of miss being in the bed of pine needles. It reminds me of the years of junior golf and playing with my dad and brothers. It feels like home. Just like Youche.
#18) Happy to be done, but in a good way
In many ways the 18th hole is always the saddest hole. Not only is it the end, but usually by this time, your score is rather locked in. Sure you have to play the final hole to determine you exact score, but for the most part you have a very good sense if you are going to make your target score or not. (Typically, not.) On top of that, I used to never play old #18 well at all. Either I would slice my drive across the road or I would yank it into the trees on the left (because I was trying so hard to not hit the ball over the road right) and things would decompensate from there.
But, with the new holes and the new course layout, the #18th hole is actually a hole that I play well. While I still don’t look forward to it because it symbolizes onrushing end of a great day, at least I have the possibility of ending my round on a good note for once.
Which is more than I can say for this blog post (and this whole golf-themed 3 day extravaganza.) When you don’t know how to end, I guess a good rule of thumb is to just go cheesy. So, I guess I will let the golf metaphors continue. Everyone check your scorecard to make sure it is correct and look to make sure you have all of your clubs in the bag and all of your personal items out of the cart. Head on inside and get cleaned up in the locker room. Just don’t get your shoes cleaned.