Caveat: the clubs displayed in You Shot What? Moving Day @ Erie County Amateur were mangled and severed in a car wreck last August. No clubs were tossed, helicoptered, ground-bashed, mic-dropped or knee-bent during my round for the ages on Saturday. There were moments of frustration, sure, but none that permit such complete loss of control.
Caveat: a rumor circulated that, given my herculean effort in round one, I might not show for round two. I don’t understand this approach. If I committed to a tournament and I am physically able to play (and Joe Bertino doesn’t wield the tournament director’s ax and cut me from the second round), why shouldn’t I play? Are my ego, heart and soul too damaged to continue? Is my reputation so immense as to require cocoon-like protection? I laugh at those notions. Every tournament round is an opportunity to learn something and improve.
Caveat: i did, in fact, improve by nine shots from day one to day two. My putting stroke was tentative to the point of belligerence both days, so I’ll need to work on that. The driver improved after a late-afternoon practice session on Saturday, although the following wind demanded that I hit three-metal on 14, 15 and 18, so as not to threaten driving over greens. Irons were solid both days, except for the inexplicable, thirty-yard-off-the-firs Sunday shank on hole #3. Left me a full wedge second into the green of a par three, don’t you know?
Now, on to my narrative~
I love the notion of the Erie County Amateur. I enjoy the two courses (Grover and Elma) as they offer two different experiences and demand two completely different strategies. I think that the WNY PGA does a wonderful job coordinating the vent, including their Apple/Android app that allows aficionados to follow the event. It was pretty cool to turn in scores after holes 7 and 13 each day, knowing that numbers would be immediately reflected on the online scoreboard. And it was nice to finally see County Executive Poloncarz play up to advanced billing, more or less. The man’s got game, despite the long hours at county hall.
Grover Cleveland can play like an English heathland golf course when the wind is up. Conditions are usually firm, demanding shots that land short of greens and release to the hole. It can be a bit tough on a hole like 18, with its front cross bunker, but you manage. The guests were up both days and really kicked in on Sunday. I played a knockdown 7-iron to the 13th green and made par, then followed it with a knock-down 9 iron to the 17th green for another par. Those are shots we rarely see in western New York, given our penchant for green and soft (that old Augusta influence). For sure, Marah Penn and Sean Lindstrom (see below, Mark Poloncarz in middle) figured out the same shots as they marched to victory in the third playing of the event.
Each time I play a tournament, I’m reminded of the nuanced challenges of competitive golf. In order to succeed, you have to turn it into the most boring march possible. You plan the shot, step up, execute and move ahead. You do this for four hours and try not to think about the last shot or the next one, just the present one. At the end of the round, you add up the strokes, sign your card and have a burger. Letting the emotions in is a guaranteed distraction, and you know where those usually lead.
I’m ready. #ECAElma2015 can’t come soon enough.