This last week my Texas Lutheran men’s and women’s team finished their season in the SCAC Conference Championship. In particular my boys finished 5th of 6. Not so hot.
But Sunday evening Jimmy Walker the current FedEx Cup point leader came and spoke to our team. Chance Cathey a senior who now needs to make a big decision asked Jimmy, “How do you avoid making big numbers?” This is a great question! Jimmy’s answer, “First you have to recognize when you are in trouble.” That is an answer born of experience.
OK then, what is trouble? Obviously my boys have a difficult time answering that.
My One Man: Chance Cathey made three double-bogies en route to his 7th place finish.
My Two Man: Tyler Kolb made three double-bogies en route to his 9th place finish.
My Three Man: Adam Peterson made four double-bogies and one quadruple-bogey en route to his 20th place finish.
My Four Man: Kraig Zimmerhanzel made five double-bogies and one triple-bogey en route to his 20th place finish.
My Five Man: Taner Zimmerhanzel made two double-bogies and two triple-bogies the first two days. He later shot 73 but signed for 72 in round three and got DQ’ed.
By my count that is 19 over bogey for the top four plus six more with Taner on the bad holes.
TLU finished 16 shot back of Trinity for second place. Turning others into bogies wins second.
TLU missed winning by 37. Their others were plus 47. Turning other into pars wins first.
Trouble is any situation on a course that is not both safe and normal. To not have an awareness of that; maybe even not knowing to always be looking for that sets you up to make a big one. There is that cliché “Don’t go looking for trouble”. That does not apply to golf. Literally by design the golf course is causing trouble. Another cliché, “It’s all good” is equally not applicable. It simply is not all good. Again by design the golf course architect and the set up committee are trying to induce you into a penalty. Any knucklehead can drive it 315 down the middle into a perfect lie and hit a 100 yard wedge close.
The golfer can hit it into the deep weeds, miss the tree, avoid the water, stay out of the sand, not take a penalty and do no worse than a bogey and often make par. Golf starts when the ball goes some place not normal and not safe. Once a golfer, and in my case my totally awesome college men embrace that notion that golf starts when you are in trouble scores will come down and winning will occur.
I was sitting next to Ben Crenshaw at a Toronto Blue Jays game one year and I turned to Ben and asked, “What is the secret to golf?” Ben quoted Bobby Jones when he said, “David the secret to golf is turning three shots into two.” My entire life as a player I have been way on the good side of the curve turning three into two. My challenge to you is, are you going to continue on with your search for the perfect swing every time and never make a mistake? Or do you have the courage to go on the quest to be the best of taking all the ugly shots and situations golf has to offer and drive Mr. Perfect crazy by making ugly pars, miraculous bogies, and every now and then do a Kuchar out of the sand for a birdie?
The secret to golf is turning three shots into two from the crap. Get that and you will get golf.