Going low in Ohio

As is usually the case during the summer, this Thursday afternoon found me on the road for my "day job" as the series photographer for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. This week's race is at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Mansfield, Ohio. What was different about this particular Thursday was that I had flown in on Thursday morning, didn't have to be at the racetrack til Friday morning, and actually had a wide-open afternoon to kill. In anticipation of this open day I had done an internet search a couple of weeks ago, looking for public golf courses around Ashland, Ohio, where my hotel was. I discovered a course called Brookside Golf Course that looked promising (reasonable rates, walk-ons allowed) and made a note of it.

On my arrival in Ohio on this day I had a ton of overdue work to do and was leaning toward checking into my hotel and putting in an afternoon on the computer. When I went to check in, however, my room was not quite ready, so I went to grab some lunch. Soon the lure of the links overtook me and I found myself in a Walmart buying golf balls, tees and a golf shirt. I before I knew it my GPS had steered me to the Brookside Golf Course and I was at the counter in the pro shop renting clubs and a cart.

As I set out for my solo round, I realized that the conditions were not ideal for a successful round. First of all, I had no golf glove or shoes ( I was playing in a comfortable but slick pair of top-siders). Next, it was already 2 o'clock and there was a league startiing at 5, which meant I would have to hurry to get 18 holes in. Finally, there was the matter of my rental clubs: an AMF Ti matrix 10.5 degree driver (dented in the heal), AMF 3 and 5 woods (both also mildly dented), AMF Wide Track 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 ,PW and SW and (heavily perimeter and sole weighted) and Wilson Pro Staff blade 3 and 6 irons, and a non-descript AMF perimeter weighted putter. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers and I was happy just to have a golf course basically all to myself for a few hours. Besides, I had a whole bagful of excuses when my round went south, which it was sure to do.

I pulled up to the first tee , a 481 yard par 5, and, as I often do when I'm unfamiliar with a driver or just not hitting the driver well, I decided to hit my 3-wood. On pulling the headcover off, I discovered that my 3-wood was a lefty club. Uh-oh, I'm a righty. I checked the 5 wood and it was a right-handed club and did a quick check of the rest of the bag, making sure they were all right-handed, which they were. If I wasn't up against the clock (I had to be done before the 5 o'clock league and it was already after 2) I would have gone back for a righty 3-wood, but since I wasn't expecting much from this round, I decided to just go without the 3-wood.

My first swing of the day, with the driver, sent the ball about 210 yards intot he right rough, and my round was underway! A 5-iron from the rough and over a couple of trees put the ball back on the fairway about 130 yards out. I hit an 8-iron on my third shot and, to my surprise , the ball hit the green and rolled to a stop about 12 yards from the flag. Two putts later I had parred the opening hole. The next two holes were par fours , which I bogied and looked as if this round would probably be typical of most of my recent outings. On the fourth hole, a 145 yard par three, I came upon a foursome that elected to let me play through. As usual, an audience and a feeling that I should hurry along to get out of their way spelled disaster. My tee shot landed a little short and my first chip rolled all the way across the green and off the other side. I managed a double bogey, waved to the foursome and moved along. From that point on I seemed to hit my stride with a series of decent 220-250 yard drives and 7-irons to the green. I was starting to get a feel for my rag-tag rental clubs. The 9th hole was a 152 yard par 3 into a gentle breeze. I pulled out the 7-iron which I's hit my last 4 approaches with. The ball sailed straight at the pin, landed and rolled about 15 feet past the hole. On arriving at he green I discovered that the ball had actually stuck the ground about a foot from the hole. My par on #9 brought me to the turn at 41. Wow, I though, I might have something going!

To make a long story short, a pair of double bogies hindered my progress on the back nine, but for the most part, I remained on track for a career day. A couple of highlights from the back nine:

On the 501 yard par 5 13th I launched a 270 yard drive into the right rough. Since I didn't have a 3-wood, I hit a five wood. It travelled straight at the flag, landing about 3 yards short of the green, but a huge bounce and roll put the ball on the green, about 18 feet short of the hole. My line was good on the putt, but the ball stopped about 12 inches short. I was still happy thrilled to card a birdie.

On the 144 yard par 3 16th, a hole that travels so steeply uphill that you can only see that top of the flag from the tee box, I elected to hit a choked down 5-iron. I didn't htink the 7-iron would reach the highly elevated green since I was hitting directly into the wind, and I hadn't hit the WIlson 6-iron bald all day and did not feel that this would be the time to start. My tee shot went slightly left of the flag and disappeared over the crest of the hill. on my arrival at the green I discovered the ball just off the left edge of the green in the rough. I really bad chip left the ball on the green about 15 feet on the other side of the hole. The uphill right to left put rolled dead-center into the hole for a par.

As I stepped up to the 17th tee, a 361 yard par 4, two thing happened. First, I decided to resist my habit on constantly adding up my score and playing the "whit-if" game ( what will my score be if I par the next 2 holes?) and second, I noticed a scratch on the top of the driver that I hadn't seen before. Closer inspection revealed that it wasn't a scratch, but a crack! The driver head was beginning to split in two! Oh well, hopefully it had two more drive left in it. The drive took off with a dull thud and travelled about 210 yards doen the left side of the fairway in to the rough. A sloppy approach and ugly chipping and I finished with a double-bogey on 17.

Stepping up to #18, a short 298 yard par four, I was acutely aware of my cracked driver, but still stupidly elected to hit it instead of the five-wood or 3-iron. Being somewhat distracted I naturally blew the drive, hacking it into the rough about 150 yards from the tee. Oh no, were the wheels coming off once again? I decent 3-iron from tick rough, a good pitch and a couple of putts saved a bogey on 18.

I anxiously tallied my score next to the 18th green: I had finished with an 84. My personal all-time best!

Golf is a wierd game. You can spend years optimizing every aspect of your game only to become frustrated at every turn in your efforts to shoot a lower score, then go out on a random afternoon at a course you've never seen before, wearing slick casual shoes, no golf glove and using a mismatched , damged set of rental clubs and shoot the lowest score of your life! Oh well, I'll take it!

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I knew my son would beat me someday, but . . . .

It's been a little over a year since my son first set foot on a full size, par 72 championship golf course. My dad and I discovered golf together more than 30 years ago when I was a barely a teenager and the golf course was one of the few places that we found common ground to enjoy each other's company as I went through my rebellious teenage years. So now that my oldest son was big enough to swing a golf club and get the ball a good ways down the fairway, I figured it would be a good time to get his feet wet.

One of the ways I've kept him interested in the game is telling him that it would not be long before he was beating me on the golf course. I watched his face as his eyes came alive as he imagined the day that he had finally bested me on the links, I thought of some far-off day as he approached high school graduation and I approached retirement when I could proudly say that my son had defeated me on the golf course.

One day a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take my son out for a quick afternoon round at a local course. As usual, David was playing off the red tees and I allowed him to tee the ball in the fairways, so as not to discourage him with a lot of topped shots. I began the round in my usual fashion, with a good drive followed by a clumsy approach and ugly putting on the first hole. Oh well, I hadn't warmed up and I knwo that my game would eventually come around. Meanwhile, David was smoothly whacking his tee shots about 15 to 175 yards down the fairway and chipping nicely onto the green. His putting was a little shaky, but he was obviously playing the round of his life. At about the turn, I even noted to him that he was leading me by a stroke and that if I didn't step up, he may even beat me! Of course, in my own mind, I knew that this would never happen, as I ALWAYS follow a shaky front nine with a fairly competent back nine.

As the round progressed, It was becoming painfully obvious that the game was not coming to me, and David chugged along as steady as a rock. A quadruple bogey on the par 5 16th (which David Parred) and a triple bogey on the 17th, dogleg left, and I announced to David that there was virtually no way that I could beat him on that day! I limped home through two bunkers on #18 and tallied the scores. My 11-year-old son had beaten me by 12 strokes, shooting a 97 to my inexplicable 109!

When we got home, David raced in to announce the scores to his mother, brother and sister who were all equally as delighted as was.

I can't that I'm not proud of his accomplishment. I thrilled that my son seems to have acquired the same love of the game that I have. I hope he goes on to derive as much pleasure as I have through golf and hope that he beats me many more times. But the last time we played , I brought along my 5-year-old son too and he got his introduction to "big course" golf. At least there will be someone in the family who I can beat for a few more years.

BritesideGolf.com is a site dedicated to the belief that you don't have to break the bank to play good golf and enjoy your time on the golf course

Click here to go to Brian’s BritesideGolf Club Shop on eBay

You can contact me anytime at via email at brian@britesidegolf.com

Be sure to make BritesideGolf.com a regular stop in your online golf journey!

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