Father’s Day 2012

Father’s Day is not Mother’s Day. The latter is a day where you treat the mother in your life to whatever she wants as a family. This year, the girls and I went to the garden store with Kate, let her pick out stuff to plant, then we spent the rest of the day in the yard helping her garden. In reality I chased the girls while Kate worked, but it worked out very well.

My wife asked me a couple of weeks ago if I wanted to play golf on Father’s Day. My first thought was that she was totally messing with me, and as soon as I said yes, she’d throw her head back, laugh and say we were doing something as a family or with the in-laws. Don’t get me wrong, all of that would’ve been just fine. In fact, we went to the in-laws for dinner anyway. The point is that this year I was encouraged to be selfish and spend the day on the course with many other Little River Men’s Club guys celebrating the day the same exact way; a beautiful day, and 18 holes of golf.

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You can’t see it, but there are several birdie putts waiting on the 2nd green.

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A beautiful day for a stroll.

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Dewey and I cooked at the in-laws this year. We grubbed:)

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Dewey didn’t last long after dinner.

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My father’s day gift from the in-laws. Win!

Rowan & Pops Hit the Course

Driving the golf cart with Pops

In a futile attempt to watch Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, I passed out on the couch around 1AM last night. I awoke to Rowan yelling at the dog. Realizing it was still dark, and the dog was still outside of his crate, I figured it was around 3AM or so. Turns out it was 5:25AM. Even though my plan was to play my usual crack-of-dawn, Saturday morning round of golf, I had planned on taking advantage of the fact I didn’t have to to to work, figuring I’d get to “sleep in” until 6:45 or so, then head out. All week Rowan has been waking up around 7AM, so I thought, with a little coaxing, she’d go back to sleep. After 20 minutes of “I don’t want to go to sleep!” and “I’m not tired!” I gave up.

The wife suggested I take Roe to Little River with me. At first I thought this was crazy. I mean, how the heck was I supposed to watch a toddler and play golf? After working somewhere around 60 hours every week, I look forward to my solo time on the course Saturday mornings. I usually play pretty well by myself, and it’s early enough in the day that it’s no problem getting home in time for the rest family day.

After giving it a little thought, I decided to take Rowan with me. Sure, I wouldn’t be able to play 18 holes (I’d be lucky to get in 9), and I’d have to pay for a cart (I usually walk), pack hella snacks for Roe, and try to swing a club with the constant stream of words exiting my daughter’s mouth, but maybe we’d have some fun. I’m so glad that I decided to take her; we had a blast!

On the way to the course, we stopped to get doughnuts and an Odwalla drink for Roe at Safeway. I’m currently on a diet, so I only got one doughnut. (This is a bigger deal than it sounds. I usually get three!) Of course, Roe had to have the frosted doughnut with pink sprinkles. She only eats the frosting and the sprinkles, but it’s her favorite special treat when she’s with me.

Why eat the doughnut, when the frosting and sprinkles taste a million times better.

Around 7:15 we finally got to the course. Kathy was working, and she informed me that I really can’t have Rowan out on the course with me. Insurance issues or something like that. She let us go out anyway, seeing as the course was completely empty, and likely to stay that way considering the greens were recently sanded.

For the first few holes, Rowan asked random questions while eating her sugary breakfast, and I played mediocre golf. The sand on the greens didn’t help. I ended up shooting 42, so it wasn’t too bad. My driver was on point today for a change, and I managed to pull off a nice draw with my irons. I hadn’t played since the Abalone Invitational two weeks ago, and it felt good hitting the ball well after embarrassing myself in the biggest Little River Men’s Club Event of the year.

I really turned it up near the end with a birdie on 18, (I played the back nine) and wouldn’t have minded playing the front to get a nice mid to low 80s score for 18 holes. But, by the seventh hole Roe started asking if we were going home soon, so I called it a day after nine holes.

Overall, it was one of the better mornings I’ve had after an early morning wake-up call from Rowan. Hopefully, I’ll get to sleep until 7AM tomorrow, but that seems a little far-fetched. Below are more pics from our little golf outing. Hopefully I can convince the Golf Club to let me take Roe again before the weather turns, since she had so much fun hanging with her pops. I realized today how much I miss seeing her during the day.

Chillin' with Pops in the cart.

 

Nice shot Daddy!

 

What did you do to the grass?

Her face is just too funny here.

This left for birdie on 13, but the sand will force a 3 putt:(

Ready to drive already!

Yes, I did let her out of the cart.

"Hi turkeys, have fun at your home!" Yeah, she really said that.

What a great caddie

Nice birdie Pops!

In need of a W

For some, sports are second nature. It comes naturally, and with practice, they only get better. For others, it’s takes time, effort and all the mental power they can muster to be just okay at a sport. Take a wild guess which category I fall into. Unfortunately, it’s the latter. I’ve always loved to play, but whether it be confidence, ability, drive or all of the above, I’ve always been just okay at just about every sport I’ve tried. My shining abilities as a kid was that I could run fast, and jump high. Yes, I know, I’m black, so stereotypically it makes sense. That aside, after a brief ride on the bench as a sophomore on the freshman basketball team, I figured my abilities should be used far away from the gym’s hardwood floors. (I won’t even mention middle school bball with my dad coaching no-less!) I found a new place on the dirt track of my small ass school. There I did well, being good at the two main skills required of a track athlete. I ran fast, and jumped high. My record for the 100m dash was 11.88, and my highest high jump was just about my height at the time. Somewhere around 5’6″. Sound impressive? Maybe for a small school competing against other really small schools, but it was only enough for 2nd. There was always a guy from Mariposa who beat me in the 100m and I was too short, (even jumping my height) to win the high jump.
Toward the end of my junior year my dad was really getting into golf and sometime later I acquired his old clubs. The perfect sport for a guy in my situation, right? Yes and no. For a solid decade I played occasionally (it’s an expensive habit I used to say) and improved in barely conceivable increments during that time. If my high school had a golf team I think I would have improved faster considering how often I would have been playing and competition (in golf anyway) I play better. My school naturally waited until I had graduated to start a team and I had to get rounds in when I could, paying out the ass all the way.
Long story short, I have always loved to play golf. In the last four years or so, I finally found a way to play more often. I always liked having consistent buddies to play with so I dragged my brother in law out onto the course one day. Being the former in my little intro, he got hooked and started playing a lot. When I say a lot, take what you think a lot of golf is a double it (at least). Needless to say he got better, fast. My father in law’s bed business FloBeds sponsored our team and we compete in match play events Monday nights starting in April. Unfortunately, I’m back where I started, feeling like the bench warmer on a team of stars. Granted, my handicap has dropped from roughly a 28 to hovering near 16. Team Flobeds won season 2 (see early post for my heroics) and placed 2nd last year, losing in a playoff. Still, last year I won only 3 matches and one was because the other team only had 3 guys, so I won by default.
This year I felt great going in. I’ve changed a few things mentally and physically with my game and I figured I really couldn’t lose if I came to play. Then I remembered, it’s golf. I tied my match last week, and last night, the only reason I tied was because the guy I played choked on his last putt, on the last hole. Upon reflection, I can’t help but feel like I used to. The rest of my team is undefeated and playing great, and once again I’m just okay. I’m ready for my first win of the year, so I can at least contribute to a team, and a game, that I love.

Golf in the Moon

Everyone wants to win. Hell, most hate to lose so bad that they’ll do anything to win. When my daughter woke up yesterday morning just before 7am I was excited. The sun was blazing through our uncovered windows and I was wide awake. I wanted to win. It was only a matter of hours until team FloBeds teed off; playing for all the money, playing for pride and playing for a full year’s worth of bragging rights.

Let’s just say that it was a very long and very strange day.

We ended up matching up by handicaps which made the matches pretty good. I played against Matty, Burkey was matched up with Wally, Turner played Jack, and Allegrini teed off against Bill Brecis(sp?). Team McMillen was gonna be tough but after squeaking a win last week we were ready to play hard and earn that first place spot. The weirdness doesn’t even start until the matches were over but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Wally is hard to beat and although Burkey lost his match and was angry at himself about his “poor” performance, he played well; it just wasn’t enough to beat last year’s match play champion. With five holes left Burkey was dormie against Wally and although he made it interesting, the match was over two holes later.

My match started pretty bad. Even though I was 9 over par after 5 holes I was only 2-down with a lot of golf to play. When we made the turn, I was 1-down after bogeying the 9th. I had a feeling that if I could just get off the tee, my chipping and putting would carry me into the lead and I’d be able win the match. I love when my feelings are right! Matty started to falter after a few more holes and before I knew it I was 2-up! I par’d 5 holes in a row and match was over by the 17th hole. The best part about the back nine was that I was only 3 over par going into the 18th! I wanted to play it out for my score but I hit a tee shot just out of bounds and had to take a 7. The day before I shot the best round of my life in the Sunday Stableford, posting an 81!! After that, my 89 against Matty felt somehow mediocre but I have never put up two rounds in the 80s back to back. I was feeling good.

The matches were over but that when the madness started…

My stomach sank as we walked toward the other groups gathering around the 18th green. Allegrini won his match and Turner lost his. Since I won mine and Bukey lost his, team FloBeds, once again, had to chose a man for playoff holes. Remembering my win last week some of the spectators were saying, “Grab your 5-iron, Marshall!” At the moment I wasn’t so much nervous as I was annoyed. I was exhausted and wanted it all to be over. Not that I didn’t feel confident that I could do it, in the back of my mind I just wanted someone else to shoulder the pressure this time. Allegrini had an amazing round and was feeling confident and regardless who they picked his match-up was solid. It was Allegrini’s turn to carry us toward a win.

The McMillen boys picked Wally, who is ridiculously consistent, straight off the tee and had a solid win against Burkey. The two walked up toward the first tee and a group of at least fifteen followed, eagerly awaiting the drama to unfold. Boy did it ever!

Chuck teed off first and even though every single drive he had hit that day was piped down the middle, he toed his drive right and into the “jail” of trees lining the 8th fairway. Wally proceeded to smash a drive straight down the middle and everyone cheered as the playoff drama heated up.

I walked over with the rest of the Flobeds team to see how bad Allegrini’s 2nd shot was going to be. As he considered his options and my hopes of 1st place started to dwindle, the unthinkable happened. I looked over toward where Wally’s ball should have been and there was nothing there! At least a dozen guys were pacing the ditch and the hazard near the pond. Nothing. Nada.

As we were walking to the 8th hole where Allegrini’s ball landed, there was a group of young boys coming down the 8th fairway. Many of us, including myself saw at least one of the boys in the 1st fairway. Of course, everyone started to assume one of the boys picked up Wally’s ball. When the boys didn’t confess, there had to be a decision made as to where Wally should play his next shot and what the penalty would be. Needless to say, this decision took awhile. The sun was getting lower in the sky, the wind felt chillier and no one felt good about Wally’s situation.

Rather than having him re-tee, the three board members in the gallery decided that Wally had to assume his ball kicked left into the hazard and he would be allowed to drop suffering a 1-stroke penalty. I can tell you that our team didn’t feel too great about this because it would be a very strange way to win a championship. But, golf is golf and there are rules for a reason. Wally was getting a very good break considering the circumstances and what the official rules stated should be done about a lost ball. When the ball is nowhere to be found assumptions have to be made. It felt a little stranger still when Allegrini hit another “bad” shot, and miraculously missed every branch as it passed through the trees to land near the creek. His third was onto the green a little more than 20 feet below the hole. Wally’s 3rd shot was right and short of the green and his 4th landed above the hole about 10 feet. Chuck’s putt for par all but fell into the hole and he tapped in for bogey. Then, the moment of truth. If Wally made his putt they would have to play another hole and it would almost make the lost ball fiasco feel okay. Wally missed though, and we sneaked out 1st place. It felt weird but the truth was: 2009 Champions = FloBeds.

After it was finally over around 9pm we all decided to hit Patterson’s Pub for a victory round and food. Burkey’s car wouldn’t start because he left his lights on. After several failed jump attempts we tried rolling him down the hill so he could pop the clutch. Nothing. 20 minutes later and several more jump attempts with Turner’s truck, there was a spark of life in Burkey’s truck and it started!

We arrived at Patterson’s and no one had cash which is all that they take. We tried the ATM in the bar but it was out of money; so was the bank ATM across the street. At this point, I never thought I would actually get that victory beer and after a ridiculously long day, that was all that sounded good. I had money enough for the round but not enough for food and I really wanted to eat. I realized then that all the ATMs were empty because of the 4th of July festivities but that we could get cash back at Harvest Market! Beer on!

As Turner and I pulled onto Chestnut street after an hour in the bar I looked into the night sky and saw why everything felt so strange that night. It was a full moon! Satisfied that all would be okay and eventually 1st place would feel like 1st place, I smiled up at the moon. All I got in return was an eerie, glowing satisfaction that he made our night the only way he could. Weird.

Dragon on the Ledge

It’s Fine to be Short

As my partner, Josh Burkey and I walked up to the our last hole of the night, we were both in trouble. It was the 3rd hole at Little River Golf Course and the first round of the Little River Men’s Club Playoffs. It was do or die. We had to protect our season-long 1st place spot. The other half of our team, Dewey Turner and Chuck Allegrini had finished their 9-hole round on the 1st hole and reported in. Turner lost his match and Allegrini won his. After hearing this, Burkey and I looked at each other. We were both 1-down with one hole to play. We each had to win the last hole to force a playoff. In the case of a playoff, each team would choose a man to play, starting on the first hole and the first to win a hole wins the match for their team. Needless to say, Burkey and I had our work cut out for us. Our matches had been close all day and we had each lost the previous hole to go 1-down with only one hole to play.

My mind eased a bit when my opponent, Jason Hearst, hooked his tee shot into the woods. My tee shot was safely in the middle of the fairway near Burkey’s, and his opponent Bobby Burdick was also safe, landing in the right rough. As we walked up the fairway our teammates and a few other members started to form a gallery behind us. I did my best just to keep my breathing steady as I set my bag down near my tee shot.

At this point, Hearst had hit a couple of bad shots and was becoming increasingly frustrated with his performance. I stepped up to my ball, 5-wood in hand, knowing all I had to do was have a solid 2nd shot, chip and a putt to tie my match. I took my time settled over my ball and smashed my 5-wood within 40 yards of the green. The 3rd hole is a long par five, and I was in great shape. Meanwhile, Burkey hit a nice 2nd and Burdick hooked his 2nd way left and near the hazard. Team FloBeds was looking pretty good. Hearst and Burdick continued their downward spirals and Burkey and I finished strong to tie the match and force a playoff.

Our opponents had an easy choice for who their man would be. Fernando was Turner’s opponent and was having a great day. On the other had, we knew that we had to choose one of our high handicappers because both Turner and Allegrini would have to give Fernando a stroke, Burkey would play straight up, and I would receive one stroke. It was either me or Burkey and honestly, I was nervous as hell at the thought of it being me. Burke felt confident and wanted to take Fernando on. We walked together toward the 1st tee talking about who should play. Fernando was right there the entire walk down, trying to get us to flip for it. Even though I was not nearly as confident as Burkey, it made more sense for me to play him because I would get a stroke. About 50 yards until we reached the 1st tee box, Burkey was about to flip a tee between us until I stopped him. Being the highest handicap on the team I was not fully convinced of my ability to beat Fernando, and being the guy the fate of team rests on was a terribly daunting prospect. Strategically, since he had to give me a stroke, it made more sense for me to play him rather than Burkey who would have to play him straight up.

Burke turned to me and asked: “You got it?”

Not entirely convinced myself yet, somehow “Yeah, I got it,” came out of my mouth. At that moment I knew I actually had to do it. I had to step up and hit good golf shots or be the guy who lets the team down in a clutch situation. Never in my life have I been really good at sports. I was always fast and in my prime, I could jump pretty high for being only 5 foot 7 inches tall. These skills made me okay at running track, but I never won a race. I place second, a lot. In basketball, I sat the bench mostly and really couldn’t shoot or dribble very well. I would get a couple of rebounds when I did play and lead a couple of fast breaks after forcing a steal. I picked up golf about 13 years ago because it is an individual sport that you can play with a few good buddies, have a few beers and every once in a while hit a great shot. Those moments made it easy to keep paying the money to play another round.

Recently I have settled down, became a member at my local course and my handicap has dropped from a 30+ to a 20. I can shoot below my handicap on a good day but I still have enormous potential to post a 100+ round. That moment, as I stood over my ball to take my tee shot, I felt like all of my sports experiences came flooding back to me and now I had to prove to myself that when push comes to shove, those 100+ rounds, didn’t matter. My numerous second place finishes by two tenths of a second in the 100 meter dash, didn’t matter. The hours of basketball practice just to sit the bench for all but two minutes, didn’t matter. All that mattered in that moment was that my team needed me to let go of those “failures” and put together a few good golf shots so that we can come back to play for first place the following week.

Fernando’s tee shot was not in trouble, but it was not very good. He ended up only about 100 yards from the tee box. On the 1st tee at Little River, if you can still see your ball after your tee shot, it makes the long par 4 feel like a par 5.

Needless to say, I was nervous as I stepped up to the tee box. I choose to hit driver despite some questionable shots with that club earlier in the day. All I knew was that I needed it to be in the fairway. I took my time, stepping back an extra time, reminding myself that I knew how to breathe. Once I hit it, my shot was not much better that Fernando’s except that it was about 70 yards farther, a little to the right and in the rough. I was approximately 220 yards away from the green.

Fernando choose a 3-wood and tried to reach the green from over 250 yards out. For a moment I thought that his shot would end up right of the green, in the hazard, but it came up short and landed in a small creek in which he would get a free drop from. Not bad considering how far he was from the green.

The last thing Burkey said to me as he left me to take my second shot was: “Hit what feels comfortable.” I had no idea at the time how good this advice really was. Let me try to paint the clearest picture I can. I was 220 yards from the green, sitting up on a hill looking down at a sweeping fairway with a creek that runs about 60 yards short of the green. Usually, club selection in this situation would be pretty easy. I would normally hit my 5-wood or if it was really buried, my 3-iron hybrid. Again, Burkey’s comment made a lot of sense. All I had to be was short of the green to have a chip a a putt for a par or bogey. That way, Fernando would be forced to birdie or par the hole to win, otherwise we would push. If I miss-hit either my 5-wood or my hybrid I would likely be long and right bringing the hazard into play. Neither seemed like a good play. The next club down would have been my 4-iron but I took it out of my bag to make room for another wedge. I never hit my 4-iron at Little River anyway. So, I pulled out my 5-iron.

There were a few people standing near me when I stood up to a 220 yard shot with an iron in my hand. I imagined they thought I was laying up, and I think I thought the same thing. It’s fine to be short, I thought, and with a 5-iron, I had to be short. One of the last thoughts I had before I went into my pre-shot routine was what Turner would have said if he saw me reach for my 5-iron: “Pull out your 5-wood and be done with it!” For once, I was glad he was standing near the green waiting for us to make our approaches rather than “coaching” me through my shots. There was too much at stake to make any mistakes. It’s fine to be short, I said to myself and went into my routine.

I wouldn’t say the ball was buried in the rough but it wasn’t sitting up nice and fluffy either. Again, I took my time addressing the ball. I had all day. When I felt like I was calm enough and lined up well enough I took a swing. I don’t remember swinging exceptionally hard but once the ball was away and it hit about 50 yards short of the green I said: “Get up!” The ball hit hard again and I said: “Get up!” again. The ball hit hard again and once more to put it about 7 feet onto the green!

As calmly as I could I put my 5-iron away and shouldered my golf bag and started walking toward the green, knowing that I all but sealed the deal to win the match. One of the spectators that saw me hit the shot asked what I hit. I told him it was a 5-iron and he couldn’t believe it. Honestly, neither could I! I pretty much hit a 220 yard 5-iron to win a playoff hole to send FloBeds into the finals!

The rest of the hole went as expected. Fernando had to birdie the hole to win and he bogeyed, giving me 3 putts to tie and two to win. Again, I took my time, choosing not to listen to my teammates who tried to give me pointers on where I should hit my putt. My putting was the only thing I had a lot of confidence in that day. I sank two 20+ foot putts earlier to stay in it and lipped out at least two others. I had two putts. All I had to be was close. And man, did it end up close! Fernando gave me the 11 inch put for par and we shook hands. It was over. And I was a hero.

Looking back at all of my sports “accomplishments” for once, I feel like I have something to brag about. My team needed me to perform and I didn’t let them down. I will never forget the handshakes and the looks of pride in my teammate’s eyes as we laughed and walked to the clubhouse. The next stop was Patterson’s Pub. That night, the drinks were on me!

Dragon on the Ledge