I was on the road and tuned in the radio to listen to the Cleveland Indians take on the Detroit Tigers this past Thursday. The Indians had won the first two games of the series and this Tribe fan was hoping for a sweep. Yes, I do know that it's only May, but if you are a lifelong Indians fan, you enjoy any success whenever you can get it. I have been disappointed so many times, that you just wait for reality to set in and the team to sink to the bottom of the standings. Until that happens, we celebrate.
The prospects for a third straight win were not good considering the Tigers were throwing Justin Verlander at us. All Verlander did last season was win the Cy Young Award and the MVP, but you never know what will happen when the game is played.
By the time I got the radio dialed in the Indians were up 2-1 in the sixth inning. As the Cleveland broadcaster was critiquing Verlander's performance, a golf analogy was used and that got my attention. The man suggested that Verlander was having an off day. He qualified that of course by saying that the Tigers right-hander was so good last season that giving up a couple of runs on five hits in six innings was not all that outstanding on this occasion. For other pitchers yes, for Verlander no.
He then proceeded to talk golf in his analysis citing a quote from former LPGA pro Nancy Lopez. She once purportedly said this about the game of golf, "it's not so much how good you hit your good shots, but how good you hit your bad shots."
Immediately two thoughts came into my head. First was the term oxymoron. My second thought was the number of bad golf shots I hit the day before. I was so taken by the quote and what it meant that I forgot about the game. I believe the Indians beat Verlander, did they not?
Back to the quote from Nancy Lopez. Is it even possible to hit a good bad shot? If by definition one hits a bad golf shot, doesn't that mean that you did not hit a good golf shot? I suppose it is possible because oxymorons are a part of our language.
One can go to a restaurant and order jumbo shrimp, which are big little things. You can drive the streets of Tiffin and run over manhole covers that advertise a sanitary sewer. I guess that's a clean dirty thing. As for my golf shots the day before, well several of them were pretty ugly.
There is no end to the oxymoron!
My traveling group went to Sycamore Hills Golf Club and we played the white and red courses. After bogeys on the first two holes, I'm not in the best of moods going to the tee on No. 3. This hole is a relatively short par-4, but accuracy off the tee is important. A large pond guards the left side of the fairway and out of bounds lurks to the right.
I'm thinking safety first and go with my 6-iron. It will leave me with a longer second shot, but should take the water out of play. The strategy would have been fine had I hit a good golf shot. I did not.
Nearly whiffing on the shot, the ball went about 15 feet in the air and the same distance forward landing just in front of the tee box. My playing partners were stunned into silence and I didn't know what to say either. I did know that my unhappiness meter was on the rise.
From the front of the tee box I chose to use a fairway wood and hit a good golf shot that turned out to be a bad golf shot as it was about one yard too far left and got wet. Adding insult to injury, we found three balls in the pond, none of which was mine. After dropping another ball, I hit onto the green, two-putted for a double bogey and went to the next tee thinking things couldn't get any worse. I was wrong.
The fourth hole on the white course is a par-3 where one must carry that same pond that came into play on the previous hole. I decided to give my 6-iron a chance to redeem itself. It did not. Instead the club betrayed me again, plopping a second ball into the middle of the drink. How many bad shots can I hit?
Apparently I had one more coming as an 8-iron from the edge of the pond failed to clear the water. I finally got on the green and made a lengthy putt for triple bogey. I'm 7-over and have only played four holes. My playing partners are wondering why they got saddled with me and I'm livid. The only good news was that I hadn't thrown a club yet, though my 6-iron and I was not exactly on speaking terms.
Everything seemed to come together on the next tee though. I placed a drive down the middle of the fairway and started walking to my cart as I watched the ball land. I should have paid more attention to where I was walking because I tripped over the tee marker and nearly went down. That was the last straw. I was probably more embarrassed than angry. I threw the driver towards the cart and unleashed a few words that might have made a sailor blush.
I was acting like a spoiled kid and knew it. The only thing that prevented me from hitting the ground and pounding it with my fists like a 2-year-old's temper tantrum was the fact that getting up off the ground is such a chore any more. You older folks know what I mean.
If there was a bright spot to my histrionics it was the fact that the club I threw was not my own. A friend had loaned me a driver to try and it was that club that took the brunt of my wrath. Sorry, Tope!
The day did get better. I hit one more "bad" bad golf shot, but otherwise my game improved dramatically. I do feel bad about throwing the club, though. There is no excuse for doing that. So here is some advice to you duffers out there.
Do not hit bad golf shots. Do not throw golf clubs. Most importantly, give thanks on this Memorial Day weekend to those who have served and are currently serving in our armed forces. After all it is through their dedication and bravery that we have the opportunity to hit golf shots at all.
Good or bad!
Al Stephenson is The A-T's golf columnist.
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