Par 3 includes two rounds at Byrncliff, down and out (but not down and out) in Varysburg, east of Wales Center on 20A. The first round was the one where you say “All right! Got this game figured out…” while the second was “Is this Hurling?”

Byrncliff is nearly a home course for me, despite its location about 45 miles from my house. Reason is, my two southtowns golfing buddies are too wimpy and whiny to come up north to the flatlands courses, so they insist on playing interesting hill courses with changes in topography and green undulations that range from subtle to you aim where? Honestly, haven’t they played the courses of the first ring of suburbs, where the best you hope for is an occasional and intentional, double-breaking putt?

The first round at the B, two weekends ago, was a 78 that could not have gone much higher…41-37, with a missed ten footer for 36 on the home green. Yeah, I said higher. I hit the ball much better than I scored, but I learned that if you don’t practice your short game, you won’t score (more on that later, when I reveal the big change in my game.) The highlight was not the missed birdie on 18 nor the 37 on the back, but the first legitimate shot at eagle on a par five in what felt like one hundred years. Here’s how it shook out…

You know the 15th at Byrncliff, right? One of the all-time great holes in WNY, a hole with panache, heroism, mystery and strategy all wrapped in a tortilla? The hole that’s one misplace bunker away from being truly great? Well, I hit driver up the left side, allowing for the slide to the right, then bashed a twobrid into the sky, over the rise, into the dell and out of sight, knowing that I couldn’t hit it any better. As I crested the slope, there she sat, fifteen feet, starboard side of the hole. So exhilarating!

And I missed on the high side, tapping in for birdie.

A week later, I was back at the B, playing a different game. I’d devised a game plan to attack the par fives at Byrncliff, a plan that goes like this…play the 2nd up the left side, way left and bash the heck out of it (I forgot to do that); do the same on number 7 and try to get the shortcut, off the slope, down into the fairway, leaving a mid-iron in (did that, had 180 left); hit a cut into the slope on 14 and let it trundle down into position A in the fairway (hit an ugly pull-hook but stole a par with a sublime pitch to 6 inches) and replicate on 15 what I did the week before (didn’t happen.)

Truth be told, the wind went out of my sails on 7. I absolutely crushed the life out of a ProV1, over the left edge of the port hillside, finding my ball in the middle of the fairway, 180 yards from the green. A little back story, though, before we proceed…I suck on par fives. I always find a way to turn a great drive or a great second shot into a scarcely-par or a how’d-you-make-six? In fact, The Scrambler has taken to shouting “There’s no way you’ll make six from there!” only to watch the meltdown as I strategically manage my way with the deft touch of Larussa marching toward another World Series.

So, here’s the story on this six-job. Ball was on a downhill slope. Took five-iron to have enough club (in the back of my mind, was thinking six) and basically thinned it (not a top, as it didn’t get the overspin bounce) into the creek. I could have putted it into the creek…I could have carried the creek with an 8 iron. So humbling, this hurling…whoops, I mean this golf. I dropped another one at the same spot, just to ensure that I could pull off the shot and over-cut it, into the drink on the right of the green…yup, the spot that’s TWENTY YARDS RIGHT of the green. Made six.

Stolen Holes are golf, pure and simple, without numbers, without awards. They are exercise, camaraderie, laughs, appeals to the heavens and the gods of golf, cold rushes of Fall scents and odors as you descend from a tee deck, visual displays of changed leaves and bald branches…they are glimpses of life as we ought to know it. Can’t wait for Arrowhead tomorrow.