Back to the links – new kind of birding

So I think I might just try to get back into golfing.  Or at least, try one more time and see if I can get it right.  It is a kind of birding, because I am always on the hunt for birdies, eagles, and the rare albatross.  In my lifetime of golfing I have had lots of birdies, but only three eagles, and witnessed one albatross.  Okay, I know that seeing one doesn’t count. 

It has been about three years since I have even thought about swinging a golf club.  Actually, I’m not even sure if I can swing one.  I’ve only been out of that back brace for a few weeks.  But if I can survive the practice at the driving range without falling down, I might be able to do it.  Really, I think the hardest part of my game is getting the clubs out of the car.  But of course, there is always that most difficult  shot in golf, the explosion shot off the first tee. 🙂

The reason for this sudden idea to do this is that Ranger Laurie, at San Angelo State Park, wants me to join her for nine holes at our little walking course here in downtown San Angelo.  But to prepare for this great event will entail me getting into shape again.  Ranger Laurie is a smallish built little lady, and I suspect that she will be trying to smoke that little white ball past me.  But, to my favor, it isn’t how you drive, but how you arrive.  And I can putt. My friends didn’t call me “three pecks and a putt” for nothing. 🙂

Back in my younger days, I shot a pretty good stick.  I wasn’t very long off the tee, though.  I hit a lot of “walkers”.  Those are shots that I didn’t need to get in the cart to ride to the next shot.  But I was really straight.  I didn’t miss many fairways.  Of course, it hard to get into the rough when my drive goes only 150 yards when I get it on the screws. 

But on the other hand, I could offer a different perspective on it.  Center field at Yankee Stadium is only 408  feet, so I would be hitting it over the fence there consistently.   Ergo 150 yards equals 450 feet.  Darn, if I don’t feel better already. 🙂

I learned to play on this little nine-hole course, Santa Fe Golf Course, in San Angelo back in 1962.  The same course where this match is going to take place.  Of course, it has changed quite a bit since then.  It has grass on it now.  A pleasant walking exprience.  As Walter Hagen once said, “….smell the flowers along the way”.  Back then I used to get impatient with all the old guys holding everything up.  Well, what goes around, comes around.  I now am one of those old guys. 🙂

In later years, another golf was built north of town, Riverside Golf Course, and it became my home away from home.  I broke 80 three time there: had two 79s and one 76 on that par 72 layout.  I actually once had a 73 at Santa Fe, but the par there is only 68.

Then a few years ago, Quicksand Golf Course was built east of town.  Now that is a killer course.  Immaculate shape, it is what I call a poor man’s country club.  Difficult to say the least.  About 111 sand traps, several of them 16 feet deep.  The signature hole is number 7.  (see picture below)  A hellish double-dogleg par 5 that plays 621 yards, uphill and into the prevailing wind.  I parred only once in all my years of playing it.  I had a 35 mph tailwind that day.  It has 21 sand traps on it to terrorize it a tad more.  The photo, by the way, was taken many years ago on film.

Hole No. 7 - Quicksand Golf Course

I have great memories from playing all those courses.  I got my first eagle on the short par 4 first hole at Santa Fe course.  I got lucky and holed out my 2nd shot.  At Riverside one time I had a little motorized pull cart.  I accidently set it for the wrong speed and I almost sent it into the Concho River.  A golfer on an adjacent hole saw it coming, and stopped it for me.

Another great memory was one day I was playing in a little scramble tournament at Riverside.  On this long Par 5 our “A” player creamed the tee shot halfway to the green.  For the second shot, the other guys hit long irons but missed the green.  I, the “D” player stepped up with my little three-wood.  I swung, didn’t hit it great, but it bounded along the ground, rolled through a dry creek bed, off some rocks the onto the green.  I then rolled in the 45 foot right to left breaking putt for the eagle.  And the crowd went wild!! 🙂

So I better stop thinking about the past, and start planning on how I will take on Ranger Laurie. 🙂