While Rory McIlroy was on his way to firing a 62 on Sunday, I played for the first time since July 30. The good news: We finished in time to catch his last two holes over a beer in the clubhouse. The bad: It only took me fourteen holes to warm up.
I believe I made par on three of the last four holes. That’s about when I finally started feeling more comfortable over the ball. Before you ask, I have no idea what I shot. But from the way I played, I’d reckon it was my worst round since, like, 1996. It’s interesting — in the past six-ish years since I last played competitively, I’d still manage to shoot a decent round after a long layoff, but perhaps Sunday’s awful performance was indicative of how rust builds over the years, not to mention how damn hard this game is.
I’m supposed to play again this weekend — if my friend doesn’t flake (ahem!). I expect to shoot at least ten strokes better. My swing didn’t feel so bad, actually. It was more that I just couldn’t aim, couldn’t chip, couldn’t pitch, couldn’t hit a green, couldn’t putt, etc.
Oh, where did I play? My buddy Brad Walsh from Tour GCX (check them out) organized a group of eight to play at Salem Golf Club in North Salem, NY (Westchester). (Thanks again, Brad!) I was paired with Mike Cochrane, and also from Tour GCX, John Quinn and Brian Berger. Mike and I had a little match going against John and Brian, but thanks to my poor play, we lost. In the other group, Brad played with celebrity chef Michael Symon (who was sporting some PUMA kicks, too!), Scott Feldman and Marc Zalinsky.
The course, which is an older, traditional type of layout, was in great shape, but to be honest, I didn’t love it (not an excuse for playing badly). I just felt it was kind of funky — I’m sure I would have liked it a little more had I hit the ball better, though.
When we hopped out of Brad’s car (he was nice enough to drive some of us out there), John handed me a pack of Srixon Trispeed balls. I said, thank you — to which John replied half-jokingly, “No problem, just blog about them.” Well, of course! Okay, so I’ve played Titleist ProV1s for as long as I can remember and before that, Titleist professionals. I’ve tried out Nike balls a few times, but never loved them. Maybe it’s a superstitious thing, who knows.
On the back nine I decided to break out the Srixons. Surprisingly, I never lost a ball, but I wasn’t spinning the ball like I’m used to, so why not try a new brand? Nothing to lose (except my pride and dignity, which were long gone)!
Interestingly, I liked the Srixon. The way I was playing made it difficult to really tell, but in my mind, it seemed like I was getting the same distance and the feel was softer. I might be a convert. We’ll see when I’m not playing like my 13-year-old self.
No joke, I don’t remember the last time I topped a drive, a 5wood from the fairway, bladed every club from my sand wedge to 9 iron. I made a double-bogey when my approach was 80 yards from the fairway. I mean, really? I had a choke gap wedge in my hands! No clubs were thrown all day. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a club. But there were plenty of four-letter words dropped. I’m at the point where I can still have fun when I play like crap, though. It took a few years for me to get over the ego thing. Okay, I’ll admit it still hurts a little. For Christ’s sake, I was a scratch handicap at one point. I swear. Again, I hope I’m playing this weekend so I can redeem myself a bit.
At least I was wearing some cool gear. I felt like a PUMA Golf ad. Actually, maybe tennis. This might come as a surprise, but I’d never played in a skort before. Yeah, seriously! I’ve always worn the traditional khaki or Nantucket red shorts with a Vineyard Vines belt or something. But the PUMA skort was super comfy and I’m hoping to get a few more soon. The shoes are the best, though. I wore my new Pin Cats. I even tweeted a picture (see above) of them after two holes! Please excuse the PR-ish tone, but seriously, the PUMA shoes are way more comfortable (and better looking) than the FootJoys I had.
Maui Jim is serious about sunglasses, particularly lenses. They all feature the company’s patented PolarizedPlus2 technology, which enhances colors while offering 100% protection from UVA, UVB, and UVC rays, and 99.9% protection from glare and squinting. Lenses are also lightweight, resist scratching and breaking, and are available in a choice of colors: Neutral Gray—with the most glare reduction, for full sunlight; Maui Rose—for low to medium light and action sports; HCL Bronze—with enhanced contrast, for hazy, overcast, and foggy conditions.
Mine have the Neutral Gray lenses, which were great because the glare was pretty strong last Sunday. I really recommend trying them out. I’ve never worn sunglasses when I play, but now I’m sold.
Funniest moment of the day? Quinney tried to hit his half-submerged ball from a hazard. I recorded the priceless moment, but can’t seem to upload it. He made contact, but it didn’t clear the water. He successfully ended up with a lot of mud on himself and admitted it was a poor decision.
One last thing, I need a new driver. Any suggestions? I’m still playing with my TaylorMade 320i. Yes, the one that was released in 2000 when I was 16. I’ve had it since then. In fact, I was one of the first to get a drive with a “super big head.” I remember at a junior golf tournament my friend Andres Gonzales, who now plays on the mini tours, made fun of it because the head was so big. In comparison to all the new technology, it’s tiny. I think I’d like the R9 — 10.5 degrees and regular men’s shaft. I hit my trusty 320i very straight, but I’m probably losing an extra 20 yards. The thing is so old that it’s starting to feel whippy — maybe because the shaft is going to snap any minute and that would be a shame.
It’d be really nice for TaylorMade to send me one. Please? Just saying.