Rea Park Golf Course
Gross Strokes over/under par
Net Score to Par
Net Birdies or better
This week has been an adventure, with some of the lowest lows, and the highest highs. I'm writing this partly because I think I need to put my words down on the page and get some emotions out in general, and you all get to share in it if you want. If you want to just hear about my best round ever, skip to the golf section labeled Round of My Life. I'll probably post this somewhere not in this thread as well, but figured I'd might as well include it with this insane round.
My grandpa has been sick for a long time now, and on hospice for a few months. This Thursday, he passed away in the early morning. He and I weren't super close as adults, but as a kid, he was amazing. We had a language barrier (he had a heavy Latvian accent), but I loved the hell out of him and enjoyed being around him. His wife died four years ago now; I think he was definitely ready.
Needless to say, I basically spent Thursday and Friday in a depressive state, not really having motivation to get up and do anything, losing myself into Baldur's Gate 3 and escaping life as hard as I could. I had already agreed to help someone move in to their college dorm on Saturday, so I knew I had to get up and go do something that day. I decided I'd go play a round of 9 at Mark's, and just walk, take my time, and enjoy the outdoors. I technically really needed to get back to my swingspeed training too; I’d let it lapse in light of what had happened. I wanted to stop escaping one way, and dive into golf for a bit instead.
I played my first 9 abysmally. My coach had had me make 3 swing changes in the last week. All of them were for the better, but sorting them out was rough. First, he said the right words for compression to just make sense for me, and I started compressing the ball properly with my irons. He had me widen my stance for now to try to teach my body to stop swaying while turning. And finally, basically since I've met him, he's had me keep my right elbow tucked in to my side. When I first got with him, I never got my elbow back in on the downswing, while taking it way off plane in the backswing, resulting in a MASSIVE out to in swing, where the only reason I was squaring the face was that I was just coordinated enough to do almost all the heavy lifting in the downswing... most of the time. Okay, some of the time, there's a reason I went for lessons. On this lesson, he told me to go ahead and let the elbow off the side in the backswing, and try to get some height at the top of the backswing.
Needless to say, these three changes combined have drastically changed my club distances, even with stock swings that aren't as hard as I can swing at the ball. My 7 iron is my best ball striking club, as it's the one I tend to use for drills. It was my 135 to 145 club before these changes, with occasional fliers out to 160, but nothing reliable. Now, I'd say it's probably my 160 to 170 club, with one off the tee that went 200 yards (what the actual hell???)!
I spent that first 9 basically trying to figure out how to play golf again. My irons have a strong tendency to pull to the left now that I'm trying to figure out how to fix still (probably just need to wait till my lesson), but it's relatively consistent, and not such a massive pull that it's crazy off line.
I only ever intended to play 9. But that relaxing first 9 was so nice, such a nice escape, that after eating at the clubhouse, I decided to go ahead and play another 9. That 9 went much better, and now that I actually look at the score, I think it was the best I've shot on the back 9 there. I shot a total of +27, with the first 9 being +18.
The second 9, my driver got hot. And I mean, FIRE HOT. Hole 16 is a par 4 that you're meant to lay up heavily on; there is a narrow gap in the trees that as a righty, almost requires you to either hit a straight bullet, or a solid draw to get through. Even laying up, I often have difficulty on this hole and getting through the gap. I love to occasionally smash driver to see if I can slip it through the gap, often sailing off into the woods on the right side, or hitting the tree on the top of the hill before the green and seeing the ball again. I didn't GPS the shot at the time, because I just didn't think of it... but here's where my ball ended up on the drive:
About 270 yards, and I bounced on the right side and ended up over the green. I've managed to hit this green ONCE in all the times I've played this course. I hit a bullet straight there, and was ecstatic. But it could have just been a one time fluke right?
And this I hit this one on 18. I decided, I have to play more today. I've never done 36 holes in a day, and with the driver this hot, I wanted to play the hardest course in the area, the one I'm likely to play the most for the Match Play, Hulman Links. However, when I got there, after hopping in my car and not even taking off my golf shoes, they had an outing that was ongoing. I was super sad, as I really wanted to take a driver that was hitting longer than I've ever hit, while also going basically straight and in play the majority of the time by far, to a course that had eaten dozens of balls from me. Alas, it was not meant to be. So, after hemming and hawing on if I wanted to really push for doing this, I headed to Rea Park, which is basically what I'd consider my home course at this point. I’m not going to lie, the thought, playing 36 holes is a good reason to not do my swing speed training right? Lol.
With the red tees at 5,219 yards, I'm a bit long for this course, but none of the other tees are rated for women, and I wanted a handicap eligible round that I could potentially go low. And boy, did I manage to do just that.
Round of My Life
I got my cart and hopped on the first tee. It's a 230 Yard Par 4. My stock driver had officially outpaced this hole, so pulled out my trusty 9 wood, hoping to pipe one down the middle and have a little 30 yard chip to the green. Instead, I pulled my 9 wood left (a common theme that day for most of my clubs), and watched it bounce into what looked like the next fairway over. I started looking for it, and it didn't seem to be where I expected at all. I drive a bit further up, and low and behold, I'm 50 yards left of the green, and pin high. Furthest 9 wood I'd ever hit. I butchered my pitch shot from the bad lie and put it over the green. Chipped back and over the green again. Chipped on with a fantastic chip, and tapped in for bogey. I kept my head in the game though and managed to par the next two holes, including getting a tough up and down on the par 3 (which I normally hit a 7 or 8 on, and I believe I hit a 9, which felt so weird, but I was pin high).
4 there was a foursome in front of me, who politely offered to let me play through. I cranked a drive and it went left. WAY left. I drive over there and start looking for my ball. After a minute or two of not seeing it, I drive back to the fairway where the guys are waiting, and tell them to go ahead and finish the hole, so I don’t hold them up while I look. I didn’t want to feel pressured to just drop a ball and go on, the ball was definitely in play and findable. Sure enough, I found it not even a minute after I drove back over there, way further than I expected. I’d hit my drive 284! My longest drive without wind assistance I’d ever hit! I then butchered the hole for double, but was still happy I found the ball and didn’t blow the hole up entirely.
5 has a water/waste area that requires a 270 yard carry to clear, or you can land in a narrow strip of fairway. The foursome was in the fairway I just vacated, so off I went. I decided to hit driver and go for it; I then of course hit a terrible drive that goes way right. I managed to get a double from there and moved on.
The next two holes I played solid bogey golf, nothing too memorable other than driving pretty close on 6 and then duffing the first chip. I’m trying to chip from 80 yards and in if the ground is clear, which at Rea, it almost always is; I’m not great at judging which club to use and how much power just yet, but I’m getting there.
Hole 8 is an evil par 5. Only 403 yards for me, but the tiny green sits on top of a 12 foot tall mound, and these greens are pretty slick for a muni. I hit a solid drive 266 yards a bit to the right of the fairway, get decently close with my next shot, manage to stick the first chip on, and happily take my two-putt par.
On hole 9 I waited for a minute or two for the woman that appeared in front of me to finish the hole, and cranked out a 270 yard drive with a beautiful baby fade to the left side of the fairway. Got my chip on the green and walked away with my two-putt par happily.
I ended the front 9 at 43, a +7. I was pumped; this tied my best front 9 at Rea that I’d shot the last time I was out. On that round, I fell apart on the back a bit on a few holes, and shot a 53, ending the round having failed to achieve my break 90 objective with a 94.
I’d finished the front 9 in 53 minutes, another record of sorts, and rushed by the clubhouse, eager to dive into the back 9. I waited for a bit for the woman in front of me to get on the green, and hit a massive bomb of a drive, 277 baby fade again, same place as 9. I hit an amazing chip, and sank the birdie putt.
The woman in front of me was waiting at the white tees; there was a foursome in front of her that was making a bit of a hack of things, hitting extra balls, etc. They didn’t offer to let her play through when they were at the tees with her. She asked if I wanted to join her for the back 9, and I accepted, a bit reluctantly. I was in a groove, playing out of my mind, having great mental, having a fantastic time, and part of me wanted to just stick with what was working and not introduce other variables. However, I don’t often get to play with women who aren’t my partner (and by often, other than my sister and mother, I don’t think I’ve gotten to), so I decided to play with her, at least for this hole. In retrospect, this was a fantastic decision; I don’t think I would have believed my own back 9 if I didn’t have a witness!
I hit an okay drive on 11, bit right and in the rough. The lie was good though, and with 250 yards to the hole, I decided to try to keep my irons out of play and hit my 3 wood. That club is either completely awful for me, or fine, and historically, I should just never touch the damn thing. But I was feeling aggressive after the birdie on the last hole, and I was feeling confident from the changes that my swing had undergone. I hit a beautiful shot to about 20 feet short of the green. I then hit a fantastic chip to 2 feet and tapped my birdie in.
I talked to the guys in front of us about playing through, who were still on the tee at the time. I got a, “Oh God, yes, please play through” when I asked; I think it was 1 guy trying to teach golf to his 3 drunk mates, just caught up in their own shenanigans lol. They looked like they were having a great time
12 was great drive, a good chip, and an annoying three-putt bogey. I followed it up by sticking the edge of the green on the par 3 number 13, and having another annoying three-putt bogey. I was happy though about getting the distance right with my irons on the par 3, so it was with good spirits I went to hole 13. Hole 13 is one of the few holes on the course that has OB that is in play off the tee; I’d blown this hole up the last time I played by shanking it left… the direction I’d gone multiple times with my drive that day. I hit a safe 9 wood straight down the middle, hit another shot just short of the green, and got a nice up and down for par, with a relatively decent length putt. I remember my playing partner, who was a really nice older woman, asking if it was my longest putt of the day, and I couldn’t remember for sure, but it probably was. I really wish I could remember her name; I’m horrible with names, and even repeating it multiple times in my head, forgot it by the end of the first hole we played together; just not enough brain space I guess with golf and the things I’d shoved to the very back of my mind.
Hole 15. Holy %$&^. I had the wind at my back, and I made perfect contact with the ball on my drive with all the power I had. The hole is 281 to the center, 298 to the back. It looked like it was going a bit left to my eyes, but I didn’t see it come down. My playing partner said she was relatively sure she saw something bounce on the green, but that couldn’t be right to me, as I definitely saw it going a bit left. But sure enough, as we pulled up to the green, I see my drive perched just in the rough on the back of the green. I’d hit my longest drive ever, with wind or without wind, 301 yards. I’d broken the 300 barrier for the first time, and I was ecstatic. The green is a bit of a toughie, sloping down towards the fairway. I didn’t want to chip way past the hole, and hit a pretty bad chip with 60 that just did not roll down the hill L. I then two putt from there for par. Still quite happy with that, as the last time I drove a green that was that far away (290 yard drive, with a ton of wind), it went…. Very badly. Double bogey badly. Lol.
I was pumped going into 16, a big dogleg right par 5. I’d had a lot of success on this hole before, and was excited for it. Hit a big long drive that I didn’t cut over the leg when I guess I should have, but that’s fine, it was just in the rough and I had a clear shot at the green. I shanked the crap out of my next shot, with it spiraling left and looking like it might actually be OB. I sighed, and hit a provisional that was almost as bad, a massive fat that flew maybe twenty yards forward into the fairway. Following the rule that if you haven’t gotten to where your first ball is, the provisional is the one in play, I went ahead and hit a decent shot to just left of the green. I then went looking for the first ball, desperate to find it. Sure enough, I found it under a tree in some mulch in OB. I hit a terrible shot over the green, chipped onto the green, and two-putt for bogey, relieved that the disaster had been averted.
17 is a 180 yard par 3, downhill, with a green that has a massive back to front slope as a backstop. I had no clue what club to hit; previously, I never really knew what to hit here, as my 4 iron wasn’t consistent, and my 9 wood had the potential to be too long. With the changes, I went ahead and grabbed my 6 and hoped for the best. I hit a thinned 6 iron that actually ended on the green! I managed to get my two-putt on the difficult green from there, with the second putt being a scary one for sure!
Hole 18. It was time to finish things up. A 340 yard par 4. I stepped up to the tee, and hit a picture perfect drive, 274 yards, dead straight down the middle.
As I got in the cart, it was at this point that I became curious how I was doing on the back. I knew I’d been playing pretty well, but I try to not think too much about my score while playing. I look at my card on the cart, birdie, birdie, bogey, bogey, okay that’s even… and the rest are pars and one bogey???? WHAT??? I’M SITTING AT +1?? HOW???
And then the freakout began. I just bombed my last drive to 67 yards to the middle of the green, and was driving up sitting at +1 for 9, and I just had to get the ball in the hole in 3 strokes to have shot the best round of 9 I’ve ever shot by far. I wasn’t even thinking about the possibility of getting to even; my headspace was entirely around keeping the hole from blowing up and destroying the miracle I’d managed. I pulled out a 7 iron to try to do a nice little chip to the green; the last thing I wanted to do was shank my SW and have a really hard shot from rough or a bunker or something. I babied the 7i chip too much, and was left with a 20 yard chip. Now a little scared, I decided to just pull out my 52, which had been my best club to chip with all day. I didn’t give it enough, and was at the bottom of the green, while the pin was 25 feet uphill. My dream of getting a par died at that point in my head, but I was relieved that all I had to do was two putt and I’d have managed to not destroy the hole.
I stepped up the ball at the green, did my routine, marking, cleaning the ball, placing, reading the green… uphill, looked slightly right to left, but at that distance, I knew my aim didn’t matter that much, as my skill is just not that high with reading those kind of distances and my aim isn’t fantastic. So I stepped up, gauged the distance as best I could in my practice swings, and gave the ball a nice whack up the hill. I then stood there, dumbfounded, as the ball began to track towards the hole. Surely not. There’s no way this goes in, is there? My jaw drops as the ball finds its home for the last time in the best round of my life. I could not believe it. Thinking back on that moment now, I still can’t believe it. I’d shot +1 in 9, +8 total, at a course that I broke 100 on for the first time at the start of this year. I’d just played my first 36 holes in a single day ever, and the second round was the best round of my life.
My playing partner finished up, I got her to sign my card and joked with her as she attributed my score to her presence, which frankly, I’m not going to deny the benefits it had. Playing with someone else had me slow down on some shots, take my time more, and distracted me entirely from my score until 18. I sat in my cart in front of the club house, shaking a bit, called my partner and shared/celebrated the insane news, which she assured me in text later that she definitely isn’t even a little jealous lol.
I’d planned on eating dinner with my parents, remaining grandparents, and one of my younger siblings, so I gave my dad a call. He was in the middle of something and couldn’t chat, but let me know to head on over. I dilly dallied with 18 birdies, sitting there, absorbing what I’d done. I then looked at my scorecard, freaked out a bit because my brain told me I’d shot +2, definitely not +1, and I must have made a mistake and I got a bogey on 18. My brain conveniently deleted the putt from existence during this freakout. I got as far as trying to edit the score and maybe reaching out to support to fix the score so it would be correct, before my brain kicked back in with the fact that I did in fact have a one-putt on 18, not a two-putt. And it was a 25 footer. And it was epic. Face. Palm. My ADHD brain can be evil sometimes.
I got in my van to drive home, and as I pulled out of the parking lot, I realized that I hadn’t thought of my grandpa the entire time I was on the course. I’d truly lost myself in the golf. I teared up some driving to my parents while I reflected on the good times I’d shared with him. It’s really weird how things happen sometimes; if it weren’t for my grief, I wouldn’t have probably played more than 9 holes that day. I may have gotten this score someday, but it wouldn’t have been yesterday.
Today, I’m going out to play Hulman Links today with my remaining grandpa, the man who got me in to golf originally. I actually am leaving in like 20 minutes (writing this took a while). He’s in good health, but up there in age. I’m going to enjoy the time I have remaining with him, knowing that it can’t be forever.
Grandpa Modris, I love you, I miss you, and saying goodbye is hard. As I sit here typing this, crying, I know that every time I think of this golf achievement, I’ll think of you, and I’ll miss you every time. Rest in peace. Say hi to Grandma Sara for me.