Making Some Progress!
by Dusty Schmidt | Published: Jan 25, '12
Things have been starting to improve quite nicely on the links this past week. After hitting it good but struggling around the greens, I was able to put it together quite nicely this week.
On Monday I played El Camino CC and was able to shoot an even par 72 on a course that was very odd and quirky. There was OB everywhere and the greens were pretty nuts. You could get at the course if you were really sharp, but I was just sorta average with everything which is OK in it’s own way. I am starting to feel more comfortable on the course and dealing with the pressure of tournament golf. Anyway, I t10th in the event (just a 1 day event) that had a pretty strong field with some Nationwide and PGA tour guys (past and present) and earned my first paycheck of the year.
On Wednesday I played one of my favorite public golf courses called Brookside which is next to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. I always get excited to play there because the golf course is very hard and challenging, yet completely fair at the same time. It is a lot like Torrey Pines golf course (site of the 2008 US OPEN) in that regard. It is 7,300 yards and in January, it is playing every bit of that. In fact, I honestly think if someone were to pour a bunch of money into it for whatever reason, it has the makings of being the next Bethpage Black.
I was finally able to minimize my mistakes both mentally and around the greens and played a very nice round of 69 (course rating is 75.0) to t1st and pick up my first win of the year. It wasn’t anything to write home about in that it was just a small field Pepsi Tour event, but nonetheless I treat pretty much every competitive round the same and it was nice to shoot a nice round out there.
One thing that was pretty cool about it was that I was 3 under par and standing on the 18th tee which is a brutally hard 470 par 4 that plays every bit of it’s length. OB hugs the right hand side of the fairway and the green is as small and narrow as a 470 par 4 can come.
The last time I stood on that tee in a professional event was just a few weeks prior to my heart attack in 2004 and I sliced the ball OB and made a 7. I stood on the tee and stared at that OB fence (which is pretty intimidating) and just said to myself, “Things are a little different this time. Let’s show yourself what you are made of.” I hit my drive exactly where I was aiming and was left with a mid iron in. I hung my second shot out to the right but was left with a fairly easy chip shot. I had a sense that I needed a par to win since it felt like 60 just might take it home, but 70 would be marginal. I hit my little pitch exactly how I wanted to, but unfortunately when the ball went to check up on the 2nd bounce, it hit a pebble and skidded some 10 feet past the hole.
I was pretty jacked up to hit that putt. I just got really excited to hit it and just felt like there was no way I was going to miss it. I saw the line really well. Almost as important, rather than getting really nervous and freaked out to hit a big putt, I could see myself making it. I felt like the kid in the basketball game who was like, “Coach, give me the ball!” I knocked the putt right in the center and it was really a nice feeling to sense how far I have come since the last time I played that golf hole.
What is so great about playing competitive golf for me is that I feel “alive” in a way that nothing else can do for me. And it is great to feel alive. After playing so much poker and living in dreary Portland, Oregon, I have come to realize just how much I truly love that feeling. How I perform may not matter to very many people, but it matters to me in a way that is very special. Having grown up in LA area and then moved to Portland for the past half dozen years, I now have a true sense of appreciation for how amazing southern California really is. I can play and compete at golf against very good if not great golfers year round in absolutely perfect weather 15+ days a month. I literally can’t play any competitive golf whatsoever in the state of Oregon and wow, that is really depressing. As much as I love this place in so many ways, living where there is zero good poker action and no competitive golf, is not my idea of a lot of fun. Anyway, thank God a place like this exists!