Thursday, April 9, 2009

Witnessing A 65

I am beginning to think the golf has become too serious. The game should be fun. It should not be the setting for family disputes.

Once he cools down, Sam talks through his disappointment with his first round. He has made the cut but is in the group with the highest scores to tee off on the second day of the competition. Along with him is the playing professional Guillaume Watremez who had shot an 81 in the first round.

Sam tees off at 9 a.m. Since I have to take him to the course, we make a deal: I will try to caddy him one more time. Before he shoots, he will explain the shot he wants to hit and then I will agree. We go over the plan for the round. This time, he will not drive with a two iron on the short par four eighth hole. This time, he says he must redouble his effort after a bogey and refuse to “bleed” for several holes. His teacher tells him it is OK to show anger after a poor shot – but for five seconds. After getting it out of his system, he needs to move on.

Sam and I have agreed on a plan: before each shot, he will tell me what he envisages and I will agree or disagree. Once we are in unison, he will execute. The system works for seven holes. Then on the diabolic eight, he slices his drive right. We agree on the line for his pitching wedge. But it goes left into a greenside bunker and he blames me for the choice of direction. He ends up bogeying the hole.

As we walk to the next hole, we agree on the need to stop the “bleeding” and play a conservative, par hole. He attempts to comply with these instructions, but misses a two feet par putt. By now he is steaming and refusing to speak to me. I back off and leave him alone. He bogeys yet another hole.

But then he pulls himself back from the brink and sinks a five foot par putt on the next hole. On the back nine’s first par five, he makes a nice birdie. His drives are now landing straight. On the next par five, he finds himself next to the green after only two beautiful shots. He proceeds to chip in for an eagle.

Suddenly a smile emerges on his face. He is only two over par. He plays the final holes in one over par, but hitting the ball well. He leaves the course satisfied with a three over par 75, acknowledging that if he hadn’t lost his temper in the middle of the round he could of – indeed should have – been under par for the day.

Guillaume Watramez, the pro in his playing group, arrived just before the 9 a.m. tee off time. He looked half asleep as he snap hooked his drive on the first hole and took a bogey. But then he began to wake up and followed with three birdies in the next four holes. After eight holes, he is four under par.

“How could you shoot 81 yesterday?,” I asked.

“I came back at 4 a.m. from Portugal,” he says. “I should have scratched, but had already paid the entrance fee and thought, what the hell.”

Watremez continues hitting laser like irons at each flag and sinking every putt within 10 feet. He finishes with a seven-under-par 65. Sam watches him with amazement. Afterward, Watremez tells him he has to learn “to accept bad shots and move on.” Sam nods in agreement. He has learned a lot in this round and feels that he has a chance in the upcoming French Boys International.

His dad will not be taking him to that tournament. The Belgian National Federation has offered to accompany him. I am delighted. Caddying for him was not a recipe for success.

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