Back when I got married some nine years ago, I organized my bachelor party to include a golfing outing. Other than playing occasionally with my father-in-law, it’s one of the few outings where I’ve actually gone golfing with someone else. And so when I was doing my 50by50 list, someone suggested I do my bachelor party arrangement again.
Which seemed like a great idea, except for the organizing part. Instead, I simply listed it on my goals list as “go golfing” and decided I would figure out the details later. A few weeks ago, I saw posters around my office for the annual branch golf tournament. I’ve gone the last three years, so going this year would seem almost like a no-brainer.
Except I’m not part of that branch anymore. I changed jobs back in July, so technically I’m not part of the “client base” for the event, although it’s not a rigid organizational process. Yet what I really wanted to do was go golfing with my old team, not just any old group. If there was space.
Of the foursome, two of us have been steady cohorts. Sean and I were on the team four years ago, even though he was in another division at the time and didn’t really know each other that well. Angela in my division went too, and it was an interesting course, but I think she found it a bit of a sh**-show as we are nowhere near her level. At least I’m not. So she bowed out. We took Roula from my team one year, and I bounced her all over the course while looking for where we were supposed to tee off. Ryan rode with Sean, and joined again the next year, with a fourth from our directorate joining us, Bruce.
This year, I checked with my team, and the new replacements weren’t all taking up the spots on our “foursome”, so Ryan, Sean and I could go (even though Ryan and I aren’t part of the “team” anymore), and the new member of the division last June, Luc, joined too.
Now the interesting part is that on paper, I shouldn’t enjoy the day. First, I’m not very good. I occasionally hit good shots, but I am far from consistent. Second, it’s a physical sport, never my forté, and linked to that, third, there’s some basic lack of gracefulness. Some times I swing, and I completely miss the ball. And fourth, I’m golfing with a bunch of guys I don’t know outside of the office, not really.
So why do I like it? Two reasons, and they are not the most obvious choices.
First, we’re playing best ball. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, it means all four of us hit the ball and whoever hits the ball the best (farthest or straightest, or both, or best lie), that’s the ball we all play from. So even if you have a rotten shot, chances are that someone in the group will hit a playable ball. It’s kind of like you have four tries to hit something decent or three free mulligans every swing.
Second, we aren’t that far apart in abilities. True, Sean is the best amongst us — most consistent, best form in his swing, etc. But that doesn’t mean that every shot we count is his. This year, all four of us counted tee shots, lay ups, chips and putts. Sean is the most consistent, and most of his shots are playable, but sometimes Ryan, Luc or I would hit something better. And then someone else will hit a nice combo and put us in good stead, while someone else finishes the hole with a good putt.
Other teams certainly had better scores than us, we ended up about 11 over for the day. Way better than any of us would do on our own, but separately, I think we would have less fun on the other teams where they have a couple of really good players who go out every week, simply because you’re unlikely to ever count one of your shots. In some tournaments, they’ll often add a rule that you have to count x number of tee shots from each team member, but the rules for our tournament are pretty light. The winners ended up 7 under for the day, which is great, but two of them play every week, and I think the other two play regularly too.
For Ryan, Sean and I? None of us have played since the last tournament. I have gone to the driving range a couple of times, but that’s it.
And each year that we’ve done it, I have REALLY enjoyed it. This year was no exception. A couple of holes were fun off the tee shot for a couple of us going third or fourth because someone else had hit a good playable shot, leaving us free to let it rip and just see what happens. I don’t usually use my three wood off the tee, I often settle for my 3-4 hybrid because I can control it better even if the distance isn’t as good. This time? I let a few blast that we ended up playing. Nothing exceptional, by probably anyone’s standards, but good for me and they worked. Other times, I lost balls in the woods! 🙂
The first few holes are pretty tame, nothing exceptional, and there are few water hazards anywhere. The seventh, eighth, and ninth holes are kind of fun — long and relatively straight, but the eighth has a small ravine across it, a dog leg over a creek, some trees. Last year, Ryan ended up in the creek — not just his ball, him personally! But we got through those ones with minimal damage. The back nine aren’t bad, although 15-18 are the most challenging. #15 starts off with a tee shot over a creek, past some bowrushes. It’s hard to avoid the creek, but we did. #16 is deceptively simple, yet it’s hard to hit straight on it for some reason. #17 has a tee shot on an angle over a creek, and we managed to lose a ball in the centre of the fairway. We have no idea where it went, it just wasn’t there when we caught up to it. Sure, it was on a hill, but two of us saw where it went, and then couldn’t find it. I blame the gopher from Caddyshack.
The #18 for me is the hardest hole, as you have a very long hit downhill to a creek. Then, over the creek, past a pond, and you can cheat by going left to a fairway, but then you’ll have a good long chip to the green. The really good players go for the fairway over the creek off the tee-shot. We have to play a lay up and then try and get over the creek and the pond. Which we managed to do. Not perfectly, but not like six over par either. Which I would be if I was playing every one of my shots. Every hole.
And while we play REALLY slow (one of the reasons Angela won’t play with us), it was just pure simple fun. We all contribute, we don’t care about the final score too much, there’s a bit of beer consumed in general, we laugh a lot.
For a guy who doesn’t like doing anything athletic in front of anyone, that’s a pretty big endorsement.
And while I always love the course for the view of the Gatineau Hills, it was also nice each year over the last four to not only get to know Sean and Ryan better, but each year to get to know Angela, Roula, Bruce and Luc too. Here’s hoping I can piggyback on the tournament next year too!
And this year, we got some photos as Luc had his phone with him.
Luc, Ryan, Me, and Sean, with the “mountain” in behind, somewhere around the 13th hole.
Sean showing off some decent form.
Sean and I in the golf cart – the only way to fly!
Luc and Ryan
A view of the hills