Change is going to happen when it comes to the game of golf

Halfway through our round of golf on Wednesday, my playing partner asked a simple question. “How can I play so poorly today after playing so well last week?”

I responded with an equally simple answer. “That’s golf.”

When you are talking about the game of golf, change happens. You can be on top of your game one week and struggle like crazy the next. Usually you don’t have to wait a week. Your fortunes can change from hole to hole or even shot to shot. It’s what makes the game so intriguing. You would get bored if you hit every shot on the sweet spot and scored par or better every time out.

Yes, I know. Just give me that chance to get bored

This is a column about change. I will start with that Wednesday round of golf. My playing partner did not struggle any more than I did. He had trouble off the tee whereas I struggled on the green. He normally drives the ball well and I normally putt pretty well. On this day we decided to “change” things up. Not intentionally of course, but he got tired of chasing down his errant drives and I quickly became incensed over three-putting.

Maybe the biggest change on the day however, was the weather. I have played on days when it was so wet you could not hold on to the club. Likewise I have played in snow and in heat that reached triple digits. Usually one can prepare for the weather, but on this day we had a little bit of everything.

When we teed off it was a pleasant mid 70s with overcast conditions. As rumbles of thunder sounded off in the distance we constantly watched the sky. Sprinkles ensued, but it was not until the turn that a heavy rain chased us off the course. A fifteen-minute wait and it was time to resume play.

The weatherman had predicted a cold front would go through. It did so around the 14th hole. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped some 20 degrees. We put on jackets as it became quite literally cold. By the time we finished the round the sun had come out and we were hot. I’ve never experienced that variety of weather in the same round, but you know what they say about not liking the weather in Ohio. Just wait, it will change.

Two local courses have changed holes dramatically, taking them from the toughest in the area to seemingly much easier to score upon. At Fostoria Country Club, a body of water has been filled in on the par-5 12th hole. It makes the second shot one that a golfer can get much closer to the green. I have not played the hole since the change, but I am looking forward to it. This change should be a welcome one.

At Loudon Meadows, the green has been moved on the 10th hole, a par-5 that had to be the toughest hole around. By moving the green off the hill and down to its old location, the hole has been made much easier. I did play this hole on Thursday in my league and after driving to the corner, played my second to some 60 yards from the putting surface. A simple approach shot awaited me and a birdie putt would be forthcoming, or so I thought.

It took me two chips and three putts to finish the hole with a double bogey. Apparently I was not yet ready to accept the fact that the change would be a beneficial one.

A couple of weeks ago I suggested that I had a story about a rare feat in the game of golf. This also involves a change of sorts. Josh Graham played golf while attending Calvert High School and was by all accounts pretty good. Graham now lives and works in Columbus and decided to change his golf game to, well, not playing.

He opted to give up the game and sold his clubs. However when some friends needed a fourth for a golf outing, he borrowed some clubs and hit the links. On the par-5 fifth hole at the Golf Club of Dublin, Josh drove the ball some 300 yards. From nearly 200 yards out he holed his next shot giving him an albatross. All this with clubs he borrowed!

Congrats Josh and if you decide to “change” your mind and start playing again, we will understand.

If you need further proof that changing fortunes in the game of golf is commonplace, I give you the PGA Championship being contested this weekend at Oak Hill. Coming into the tournament there were a number of golfers considered favorites.

Phil Mickelson was coming off victories in the Scottish Open and the British Open. Surely his name would be at the top of the leaderboard. So, too, would Tiger Woods who had dominated the field at Firestone last week. Well, after the second round Woods was +1 and 10 strokes off the lead. Mickelson was at +2. They fared better than Bubba Watson, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els and Luke Donald, all of whom missed the cut. Angel Cabrera, who seems to always shine in majors, shot 80 in the first round and withdrew.

The lead at the halfway point belonged to Jason Dufner who shot a record-tying 63 in the second round to take a two-shot lead heading into Saturday. One thing that will not likely change is Dufner’s demeanor. There isn’t a more laid back guy on the tour and that is a refreshing change from the cursing and club throwing that you get from some other guys.

Enjoy the final round today. Since I wrote this, I’m guessing there has already been a number of changes take place on the leaderboard.

That, my friends, is golf.

Al Stephenson is The Advertiser-Tribune’s golf columnist.

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