Played as a single at Crystal Lake Golf Course in Lakeville, MN today - one of the last times I'll play it before we move east. It's a fun course, always in great shape and well conditioned - not overly long but you do need to think your way through it.
Breaking 80 is really the Holy Grail for golfers - I guess it validates you as a playah. I can remember trying like hell to break 80 and how good it felt once it happened - so good that you wanted it again. It's really hard to break 80 for the first time, but once you do, the floodgates open and you can do it more often, to the point that anything over 80 on y our home course feels like a lousy round.
Anyway, I was paired up with another single - a kid (I call him a kid, he's 37) named Paul. Sometimes when you hook up with someone on the course you just know it's going to be a good day.
Paul told me about how his family fled Cambodia and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge when he was only 4, and then lived in a refugee camp in Thailand until they were finally able to come to the US when he was about 7. We talked about parenthood and being married to German women (they forget NOTHING. They remember stuff that hasn't even happened yet!). Anyway, Paul showed to be a pretty decent ball striker but told me he had never broken 80 - and that was his goal. He'd been close - 82 was the lowest - but you could tell is was something he wanted.
Paul finished the front 9 at 6 over par - so he had 2 strokes to play with (Crystal is a Par 71). He saved par on 9 with a great up and down, but he didn't like his chances. I told him to take it one shot at a time and you never know.
On the back 9, Paul started par-par-birdie-birdie-birdie -- the first time he had ever had 2 birdies in a row, let alone 3! On the par 4 15th he flew his approach about 35 feet long and left his first putt about 7 feet short - and drained it to save par. On 16 he hit driver (not a driver hole) and put it in the weeds of a creek that cut through the fairway. We found it and he did have a shot - and hit the thing about as hard as he could with a wedge and hit the green, leaving an uphill 30 footer. I could tell he started gripping the putter a little tighter because he left his first putt about 15 feet short.
Well son of a gun if he didn't drain that one to save par.
Paul had a 3-putt bogey on 17 (again, a stranglehold on the putter) so when we got to 18 I mentioned it looked like he was gripping the putter a little tight. He hit a nice drive into the fairway and then his approach to about 18 feet, with a sidehill uphill putt. Again, he left it about 7 feet short - he said he might have gripped it a little tight, and then drained that putt to save par - finishing the 9 at 2-under.
We waked off the green and he tallied up his score - an 80 shattering 76.
I've never seen a guy so happy with a score ever - he wanted me to sign the card and attest the score so he could show it to his buddies. Dude was walking on air!
And the thing is, I had almost as much fun watching Paul shoot his 76 as he did shooting it. What a great moment and it reminds me why this game is so much fun. I told Paul about the forums and I hope he joins up. You guys would like him.
There was one downside - he beat me by a stroke!