The Scrambler and I finished five strokes off the lead on Saturday at the WNYPLGA two-man scramble at Byrncliff. The scorecard says we had six birdies and two bogies. We partnered the winning team, a couple of guys with a winning track record. They started birdie-eagle and never looked back, finishing nine-under par. For our side, however, playing the tournament was the reward.

A few weeks back, I was involved in a direct collision at 35 to 40 miles per hour. My trusty 2008 Hyundai Elantra, loaded with 121K miles (I drive a lot) gave itself up to save me in this head-on crash. Three cars were involved, including an adaptive transport van; miraculously, no one went to the hospital. During the immediate aftermath, I recognized how many “what-if” thoughts were zooming through my head. Many people don’t walk away from an accident. I have to thank the Grand Island and Erie County fire and police departments for their quick and caring response.

I spent three weeks on ibuprofen, allowing aches and pains to run their natural course. It’s funny how sensitive to the touch I am, yet I’m able to embrace the bigger hurts and learn from them. Thank God for that seat belt. I had a diagonal abrasion across my torso and an ache in the pectoral muscle, but nothing involving my head.

Three weeks without golf, after working diligently on my game all summer. Not long hours, just focused minutes on the range and green, honing. Big picture was all too clear, so my goal was to not eat so much ice cream that I gained a couple dozen pounds. It was a fight to the finish, but my waistline survived.

When Scrambler and I teed the ball up at Byrncliff, I had zero sense of what to expect. I was stunned to hit a nice draw up the left side of hole number one, follow it with a low wedge into the green and barely miss the birdie try. The cold-top tee shot on two was equally surprising. That’s how the round went, trying to remember what the swing felt like, what I had prepared, studied, embedded. By the end of 18 holes, I was closer to where I had been.

I’ll miss the Elantra. It was a plugger of a car, one that I hoped would see 150K miles over the next two to three years. It’s corny, hokey, maudlin…call it what you like, but it ended up being a life saver of an automobile. It allowed me to play a tournament that had been on the schedule for months, but it made it a tournament to celebrate.

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