Everything that I’ve written here (every story, every article) is 100% true…and as accurate as possible, especially considering that some of this stuff dates back 40 or more years!
Yet there are many days when I can’t remember what I had for breakfast or I’ll forget my name.
Yes, not every “quote” may be exactly word-for-word as it actually occurred, but it’s as close as my mind will allow & it’ll always accurately reflect what transpired, what was generally said, what people’s emotions were & how everyone reacted.
Could there have been an extra “shit” thrown in there or way less $&@%#s than what were really said at the time?
But the stories themselves are 100% TRUE. Had I known I was gonna write this blog here, I would’ve taken notes or, better yet, hired someone to follow me around all day.
After all, as old as I am, not even Alexander Graham Bell had been born yet!
(He invented the tape recorder…duh.
10 years after he did the phone thingie.
And, NO, I ain’t gettin’ into any “But it was really Nikola Tesla who…!” arguments!!!
C’mon, stay focused, willya?
¿Donde estaba? 🤔
And anyone who has seen me golf will most definitely have some serious doubts as to this next piece’s veracity.
Very, very serious ones…and, honestly, I really can’t blame you.
I have a hard time believing it myself…and I was there!!!
Other than a trip or two to the golf driving range on a Friday night when I was a teenager, I really never picked up a club until after I moved down to San Antonio & my good buddy, Steve Somen, said, “That’s it! We’re going golfing this weekend!”
***** TIME OUT!!! I lied. *****
When I was about 19, I once golfed at the Dyker Part course in Brooklyn…me, my buddy & our girlfriends.
None of us had any clubs or balls & we were certainly not dressed appropriately, but since it was a “muni” (a municipal course owned & operated by NYC), there was no fear of being kicked outta the country club. Not only weren’t we properly equipped, none of us even stepped foot on a real course before!
First tee. (Yes, we rented clubs.)
I smash a drive straight down the fairway.
Great, heh? Well, I was wearing construction shoes (c’mon, this was the ’70s, people!) so the rubber soles had -0- traction, my feet came flying right out from under me & I looked like a fool.
As bad as that might have been, comparatively speaking, I was actually the best of the lot!
My buddy couldn’t hit anything in the right direction & our beautiful gfs we’re just that…beautiful girlfriends!
We drove the groups in back of us absolutely crazy, but at least we allowed them to play through.
When my drive off the 6th tee box took a sharp turn right, cleared the fence & then smacked into a Department of Sanitation garbage truck, double-parked on 7th Ave outside Victory Memorial Hospital, I knew it was time for us to go!!!
What seemed like a great idea quickly turned into a boring struggle.
Gotta believe that it left me scarred for many years.
***** Back to our story ****
I played a LOT of baseball & fast-pitch softball so I always considered “hitting a round ball…with a round bat…squarely” as the most difficult thing to do consistently well in sports!
And here, in golf, the ball is actually sitting still! And I’m using a golf club with a flat, paddle-like face!
Really now, how difficult could this sport possibly be???
So, on a Saturday afternoon, Steve took us…3 Jews & a Gentile…Dave Pfau & Larry Holstein got dragged along… to our local municipal course, Cedar Creek (an excellent track considering it was a city public course) to hit a couple of buckets of balls.
As I didn’t have any golf gloves, I wound up with 2 hands completely covered in blisters! This golf thing was not getting off on a good foot (?), mind you.
Steve & I played the next day, around 2:00 in the afternoon or so. They paired us up with a husband & wife team visiting from Houston and lemme tell you, it was hot as the real Hell!
After all, this was San Antonio.
The temperature soared well over 100° that day, it was miserable out there, but I hit a few decent shots…and voilà!, I was hooked.
That’s all it took!
It’s all about increasing the frequency of those decent shots, from a few per round to several. From several to at least one per hole. And on & on.
But natural athletic ability will only take you so far, in golf as well as in any other sport.
Proper form, understanding the science of the game, countless hours of practice…all that’s necessary to “get to the next level”.
And there’s something I learned a very long time ago that actually applies to most things in life…
Contrary to popular belief, practice does NOT make perfect!!!
Rather, PERFECT practice makes perfect.
My early rounds started off in the low 100s & within a couple of months, I was steadily shooting in the 90s.
My game continued to improve until I basically became a “bogey golfer”(actually, a li’l better).
Note to all golf aficionados out there: That’s from the club tees, not the tips (where the professionals play from).
A bogey is 1 shot “over par” (higher than the standard) for any one hole. With most courses playing to a 72 par score for 18 holes, bogey golf would be 72 (par) + 18 for an average score of 90.
Depending on the difficulty of the course, I got my “handicap” (the number of strokes over 72, or par, that a golfer normally averages) down to around 15 or so, or an average score of 87…72 + 16.
On some of the easier (shorter) courses like Alsatian Golf Course out in Castroville or Woodlake Country Club in NE San Antonio, I would often shoot in the low 80s.
Yes, my score, not the weather!
I couldn’t drive the ball worth a damn, but I had a pretty wicked game from ~150 yards in…and I could hit some excellent woods (3, 5, 7, 9) off the turf & was proficient around the green.
“Drive for show. Putt for dough.”
Then there was this one Saturday when Rich Green & I (a fellow USCC VP who also moved down from NY) went out to play Alsatian very early in the morning. (We played hundreds & hundreds of rounds together, all over the San Antonio-New Braunfels area & surrounding counties.)
We were usually the first group off the box & as such, enjoyed a wide-open course, with no other golfers in front of us. It was almost like golfing on our own private course!
Normally, the most frustrating part of one’s golf game – – BY FAR – – is the incessant waiting for the “coast to clear” in front of you (“those damned slow-ass $&!@?# other golfers”) before you can take your next shot.
Golf courses normally schedule 7-10 minutes between each group.
But how quickly a group gets around depends on their size (2, 3, 4 & even sometimes, 5 players in a single group)…their ability (good golfers don’t hafta spend 1/2 their natural lives searching for wayward shots)…and how fast or slow the golfers in front of them are.
But when you’re “first off the tee” with no one in front of you, all you experience is a wide-open course in front of you all day.
What an absolute pleasure that is!
Rich & I (🎵 “…just the 2 of us…” 🎶) would complete an entire round in less than 2:30. Even a foursome (like we had on many Saturdays & every Sunday) would take only ~3 1/2 hours at most!
That’s a helluva lot better than spending 5, 6 long hours on a hot, sweltering afternoon!
Nothing seemed special or out-of-the-ordinary that day, other than the fact that I birdied the first hole & parred the 2nd (requiring a long 2nd shot over the lake, or around it, since I normally hit puny drives). My usual round at Alsatian started with a par & a bogey so things were looking pretty good.
Another par on #3, followed by birdies on the 4th & 5th holes.
Now, this was becoming seriously incredible!!!
3 under par after 5 holes was simply unbelievable for a golfer of my caliber.
*inserts reminder “Alsatian is a very friendly course” here*
I closed out the front nine with a couple of pars & bogeys, for a net 1 over par….37 strokes!
I played the back rather well, with a birdie, a bogey & 7 more pars…for an amazing 73!!!
My lowest score before this had been an 82 & I never, ever came even remotely close to breaking 80 ever again, let alone shooting a 73!!!
And for all the Doubting Thomases out there, there were NO Mulligans (that’s golfese for “do-overs”) & NO gimmes as I sensed I was onto something special…at least, for me.
When you beat your best score ever by 9 strokes and shoot about 14 under your handicap, that would be equivalent to a Tour pro scoring a 56!!!
The lowest recorded score ever is a 55 (Guinness Book of World Records) in 2012. Jim Furyk’s 58 is the lowest ever on a Tour event.
Yes, Alsatian is a rather-short course, measuring ~6500 yds from “the tips” (the tees furthest away”) & about 6150 from the “club tees, the blues”, with a 127 slope rating …but it’s not miniature golf!
We always played from the blues. Though as I got older & exceeded 55…on the highway & the age chart…I started playing the “senior tees” as the private courses I played in Columbus, OH with Steve…Kinsale & Scioto country clubs in Powell…were absolutely top-notch (= long & extremely difficult)!
And, of course, on the way back home from my miraculous round, I stopped at Haby’s Alsatian Bakery right there on Main St (Hwy 90), stocking up on some delicious donuts, turnovers, honey buns & cinnamon rolls!
Oh, what a sugary celebration! I just wish I had a couple of other buddies with me during this miraculous round!
It’s true!!! It’s all true!!!
And, again, no Mulligans nor gimmes. If you’re not keeping score or not wagering a few bucks with your buddies, you’ll (= me & Rich) usually take one or two Mulligans a round so things are less frustrating & way more enjoyable, especially after you hit the invariable crappy drive.
But I took none that day nor did I need any!
Definitely, without a doubt, it was one of my most enjoyable sporting accomplishments ever, ranking right up there with my 794 3-game series in bowling (267 avg) & a bunch of NY state championships with my Regina baseball team as a teenager in Brooklyn.
(And I never considered spelling bees as sporting events, even though ESPN would regularly televise the national championships.)
But this one will definitely draw the most skepticism from my buddies who are most familiar with my golf game.
“Yes, I can already see all those stupid faces you’re making at me, guys!”
*takes out his 1960s “magic mirror” from the popular Romper Room TV show*
“Oh, I see Bryan…and Neal…and John…and there’s li’l Daniel…and Mario singing…and, of course, Jim…and Steve…and Andrew…and Corey…and Alex…and Dave…and Elmer…and Dave…and Michael…and Walter…and dozens of others from our Citi Thursday Night League @ the Golf Club of Texas who wish to remain anonymous!”
God’s gonna punish you & you’ll be stuck with those grotesque faces you’re making for the rest of your lives!
(Disclaimer: All previous comments are hurled exclusively at my male buddies. I would never, ever wish any harm or facial disfigurement whatsoever to any female in the world…with very few exceptions.)
And due to all my stupid issues, I haven’t picked up a golf club in almost 8 years nor thrown a bowling ball in even more. That sucks.
Still have my memories! ❤️
As always, thanks so very much for listening!