Did someone say something about an 88?

In only a month, my quest is complete, my Holy Grail has been attained, total glory stenciled onto my scorecard.

A good day

Where to begin?

Not long ago, I wrote about my quest to shoot an 88 and experience the elusive vindication that only bogey golf can provide.  I first picked up a golf club in my mid-twenties – the natural, I am not – but over the past year or so, I’ve started taking my golf game a little more seriously.

Don’t get me wrong.  I rarely hit the driving range.  I still drink to excess and partake in the mandatory cigar (or two) but I’m far more confident in my stroke than ever before, which is what golf is all about.  Years ago, I would fear which direction my ball would travel after striking it.  These days I expect a good shot and am miffed, surprised even, when that dimply little fucker doesn’t do what I tell it to.

Back to my quest for 88.  I woke up a few Mondays ago after a long weekend of work and headed back out to Pebble Creek, my local course of choice, to squeeze in a quick 18 before sundown.  A 4:45 tee time gave me plenty of time to finish my round, weather-permitting.

After grabbing my double Jack and Coke from the bar (why break tradition?), I drove my cart up to the first tee.  Only days before, I had worked out for the first time in months and was concerned that my massive(ly sore) pecs might affect my golf swing.  With limited mobility, an 88 was probably out of the question but a relaxing round was not.

A gentleman stood alone at the first tee about to begin his round.  Upon greeting me, he mentioned he played for the local church league and asked if I cared to join him.  Apparently he couldn’t see the horns growing out of my forehead.  My sweat-stained, baseball cap must have covered them up.  I responded by politely saying that drinking, smoking and cursing were an inherent part of my round.  He drove off nervously.

devil golfingSurely, I jest… as far as you know.

I teed off by myself, eager to see what this round would hold, knowing how close I’ve been to 88 in the past but not trying my hardest not to obsess about score.  Take it easy, C.  Keep your cool, C.

A double bogey on the first hole, a relatively easy one, is no way to start one’s quest for 88.  After a solid drive, I stuck my approach off and to the right of the green.  A duffed, chip shot thanks to the unforgiving rough at Pebble Creek left me with a six.  I chalked it up to not being warmed up but knew staying in the fairway would be crucial.

I found redemption on the second hole, par three.  A solid tee shot and a two-putt put me back on track.  A bogey on three led me to the dreaded fourth hole where I tallied an eight my last time around.  Like déjà vu all over again, I put my tee shot in the water on the left.  So much for my 88.

After a drop but nice iron shot to the green, I penciled in another double bogey: five over after four holes.

The fifth hole at Pebble Creek is a long par four with a half island green about 360 yards away with water along the left side.  It’s the number one handicap hole on the course, which means they consider it the most difficult.  Some kids were fishing in the lake off to the left side about a hundred yards up or so.  The old Chump would have been nervous about an errant tee shot heading in their general direction, but not the new Chump.  My perfectly, sizzled tee shot sailed way past them in the air, right down the middle of the fairway, enough to elicit a “Nice shot!” from my new gallery of fans as I drove by.  I tipped my cap graciously.  Unfortunately I ended up three-putting the hole for a bogey but I had settled in, realizing I was hitting the ball well and that 88 might be attainable after all.

Chipping in for birdI parred the sixth hole, then bogied the seventh.  On the eighth hole, I met back up with my church-going friend.  Careful not to curse, fortunately I had no reason to.  I played eight and nine with him just to be nice, which was a good thing because he got to see how well I was playing.  A par on the eighth hole and bogey on the ninth gave me a solid 43 on the front and kudos from my new, non-sinning friend.  Cut and paste that score to the back and I’d blow an 88 away.  But let’s not get ahead of myself.  There was plenty of golf left to play.

My partner turned in after nine holes which left me to play the back by my lonesome once again.  A perfect tee shot on ten, my best ever on that hole, and a solid approach led to another par, my fourth after ten holes.

Okay, let’s not get nervous.

…which I did.

I got way ahead of myself on 11, thinking more about score than the shot at hand.  Double bogey.  But another par three awaited and I had been hitting my irons solid all day.  I continued to, landing yet another par.  Two over after three holes.  Keep hope alive!

Then came the double bogies, as unwelcome as a zit on prom night.  I had fended them off long enough.  Two consecutive left me six over after five.  Bogies on 15, 16 and 17 left me nine over after eight holes and 17 over after 17.  Since Pebble Creek is a par 71, I would need to par the 18th hole to shoot my 88.

Perfectly doable but don’t think about score… or so I kept telling myself, the ghost of caddies past.

I crushed my drive down the middle of the fairway to the left, exactly where you want to be on this hole.  The flagstick sat waving in the distance, 132 yards away.  My 8-iron beckoned.  Unfortunately, it beckoned off and to the right.  I missed the green, about ten yards away but still pin high.  The rough had been holding my pitching wedge up all day but if I could just get up and down from there, well, you know.

The chip wasn’t bad except for the fact that the green sloped downward and to the left, which meant my ball rolled downhill of the cup about six to seven feet.  Make it for par and land my 88.  Miss it short and while still shooting a solid round, my 88 would have to wait another day.

Phil Mickelson jumpThe pressure mounted.

I measured the putt carefully with no one around and the sun slowly setting.  I took my time, then took some more.  I backed away then lined it up, struck through the ball… and sunk it!

Elated, I was somewhere between a Phil Mickelson geek jump and Tiger Woods fist pump, my grin unmistakable and extremely well-earned.  I texted everyone I’d ever played with to share the news.

I’m finally decent, a respectable golfer.  Vindication!

Now if only I can do it again my next time out.

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20 Replies to “Did someone say something about an 88?”

  1. Chris

    You used a cart ? Lazy ! LOL,LOL ,LOL !!! Continue with the quest my friend ! It’s been six years since I last hit a course for a round of golf and that was at Doral , courtesy of some friends down south .

    Tell me the Cardinals will play better in game two of the World Series ?

    Hoping that the Bucs can show some signs of life tonight . Your thoughts on that ?

    No it’s not a punch drunk diatribe ……… it’s real, boxing is dead on its feet .. no last man or standing count

    tophatal ………………..

  2. Chris

    I see Nolan Ryan is now showing interest possibly joining the Astros ? Well how is going to help that franchise , who over the last two seasons has made it a habit of incompetency both on and off the field of play . Two straight seasons of losing over 100 games and now the team has financial issues and are in the midst of a major lawsuit with their broadcast partners CSN Houston (Comcast SportsNet) , where the Astros own a part share in the unit ,which is seeking bankruptcy . Ryan was simply a figurehead as an executive with the Rangers got them to spend capriciously , with nothing to show for it all and also it Nolan Ryan who forced out Chuck Greenberg , who actually engineered the the purchase of the team after Tom Hicks and Ken Gillette’s financial mismanagement of the baseball club .

    Astros’ owner Jim Crane is now proving how damn incompetent he just happens to be . But the real blame also lays with Bud Selig who granted Crane, his wish in purchasing the team ($775 million) and then handed him a $100 million gift as way of smoothing their (Astros) transitional move a from the NL Central to the AL West . Not bad for ball-club that in each of the last two years has lost over 100 games .

  3. Of course I used a cart, Al. You can’t walk, carry your clubs and carry a cocktail all at the same time. That’s a major inconvenience.

    I’m not sure if the Cards have it in ’em after that Game One shellacking although if you’re a fan, you have to like their chances tonight against Lackey. Besides, Wacha’s been lights out his last two outings. Of course, those haven’t been against the Red Sox lineup.

    And believe it or not, I actually like the Buccaneers tonight. Despite the injury to Doug Martin, I still think they have what it takes to win one tonight. It’s not like the Panthers are all that.

    I disagree with you on Nolan Ryan and the Rangers’ success. They did bring home consecutive American League pennants, even though they couldn’t bring home the big one. And if he joins the Houston Astros, at least they’ll have no place to go but up.

  4. Chris

    Nolan Ryan was not the spur there, in terms of the success . That was all GM Jon Daniels . Ryan simply placed his moniker on the paycheck , but it all came undone once he felt he could do a better job than the general manager , which simply annoyed the rest of the partners . Ryan pushed Chuck Greenberg out the door and it was the former agent and lawyer who put together the syndication group that bought the team after its bankruptcy restructuring .

    The pennants were one thing
    , but everyone will the failures in 2010 and 2011 are what they are more remembered for _____ their miserable and woefully displays in both World Series .

    The Astors won’t be going where because their financial situation so closely tethered to the bankruptcy situation Comcast Sports Net Houston (CSN Houston) in where the baseball franchise has a large state . The Houstron Astros and cable provider’s parent company Comcast /NBC Universal are now facing off in court concerning whether or not to proceed with a bankruptcy filing . The Astros do not want to go that route , whereas Comcast wants to restructure those debts . If that happens the Astos stand to lose in excess of $65 million and that figure is a conservative one .

    So explain to me how that situation benefits the team in the long run given owner Jim Crane’s reluctance to spend money on the team ? Check out their team payroll in comparison to the other twenty nine teams and then that of the Rays .

  5. Wait a minute- did I miss the part about Dale Jr.? 🙂

    Congrats on achieving your goal!

  6. So drinking and driving is the key to a high score?

    Been about 5 years since I teed up, but I’ve kept my thirst quenched on the regular. The next time my brother invites me to play, I make sure to gulp a Jack & Coke or four to guarantee my 88.

    …Speaking of 88…I recall that year fondly. Both the Lakers and Dodgers won in my junior year of HS. Good times.

  7. Al…

    I’m not doubting that Ryan may have done more harm in Arlington than good. I’m not sure any of us know exactly what his responsibilities were other than to have nice front row seats and grimace a lot for the camera. Either way, Houston can’t do much worse. At least they’ll have the figure head they don’t have now.

    And I haven’t neglected UCF although I do think Florida is the more talented team of the two. Fortunately they don’t have to play them to find out.

  8. Beag…

    Me? A NASCAR reference?

    I only do that if I’m trying to get Han’s attention.

    It’s like sending up a bat signal, except with a lot more fumes.

  9. Bleed…

    Let me know how the Jack works out for ya’. Works wonders for me… in moderation.

    Speaking of wonders, I wonder if Mattingly’s having a sip now wondering where he wants to manage next season.

  10. Al…

    My take on the absolutely horrible Bucs will be up soon and


    It might take a while before I crack the 70s. I’m sure we’ll speak before then.

  11. Chris

    Who would your money be on , in such a match up between Florida (Gators) and UCF (Golden Knights) , bearing in mind what you have witnessed this season from both teams ?

    Nolan Ryan was simply brought in as a figurehead for the Rangers and because of his undoubted history with the franchise . Yet his ego then got in the way and all hell broke loose . The dismissal of Chuck Greenberg hurt the Texas Rangers more than anyone would now care to admit . Because not only was the lawyer and former agent knowledgeable , but he also knew how to assess talent and structure deals that would not have hurt the Rangers from a financial standpoint . Can the same be said of Nolan Ryan ?

    I have read your take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I left a comment . I do not want to reiterate , but I told you so , concerning the hapless Bucs !

    My question for you , do you believe Greg Schiano at this juncture to be a better or worse head coach than his predecessor Raheem Morris ? Think about at length before you answer , because I am interested to see what you think concerning the matter !

    tophatal …………………..

  12. Al…

    I’ll still take Florida in that one, even if they played on the road.

    The Bucs, man? Ugh. What else can I say? They are getting crushed today by the media and rightfully so.

    This team is nowhere near being competitive and the fan base, and obviously the players, current and former, aren’t happy about it.

  13. fwiw… i can’t put worth a shit if i drink and play golf
    i’ll hit my woods and irons the same, but i lose my touch on the greens

    and a shout out to BleedPRPL&GOLD… i share the same emotions about 1988
    was that really 25 years ago?!!!

    oh, and chumpy…
    not to shit on your morning breakfast, but i hadn’t played in years when i teed it up this past summer… and shot an 86
    and i was sober

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