The Round of His Life


The Round of His Life

This man will remember this round of golf – and this day – forever. (10/2001)

 

Greg punched the alarm clock just seconds after it went off. The neon green display read 4:30 a.m. Somehow, even in his sleep, Greg must have sensed that the round of golf he was scheduled to play in just over 90 minutes was going to be the round of his life.

Greg quietly slipped out of bed, not wanting to disturb his wife, Nancy, lying next to him. Nancy was eight months pregnant with their first child. Greg figured that the round of golf that day might be his last for quite awhile, given the upcoming arrival of their baby.

By 4:45, Greg was out the door. He’d packed his clubs and golf shoes the night before. By 5:00, he parked his car at the course and by 5:15 he was stretching near the course’s driving range. The course had installed lights so that golfers with early tee off times could hit practice balls before teeing off. Right on schedule, the lights hummed on at exactly 5:30. Greg was the only one on the range. He started hitting a small bucket of balls.

Greg and his brother-in-law, Mark, had a 6:08 a.m. tee off time and were part of the second foursome off the first tee that day. At 6:00, while watching the first foursome of the day tee off, they met their playing partners, Les and Ruth Babson. Both were in their 70’s, but seemed spry and cheerful. Both had those fancy motorized pushcarts.

Greg teed off first. His brother-in-law had this stupid thing where he threw a tee in the air to see at whom it pointed in order to determine who went first. The tee had pointed at Greg. As it happened, Greg would tee off first on all the holes he played that day, according to golf etiquette that states that the golfer with the lowest score on one hole should tee off first on the next hole.

As usual, Greg was conservative as he started the round. While Mark attempted to boom a driver on the first tee, Greg went with a 3 Iron and knocked it safely into the fairway. After another 3 Iron and an 8 Iron, he was on the green in regulation. After two putts, he had a par on the opening hole, a 495-yard par 5. It was the first time he’d ever shot par on this hole in over twenty rounds of golf at this club.

Greg bogeyed the second hole and parred the third. After three holes he was only one over par, several strokes better than his normal scores at this point.

While walking up to the fourth tee, his cell phone rang. Mildly annoyed, he answered it. It was one of the guys that worked for him calling to ask permission to change something. “That’s fine. It’s up to you, like I said in our meeting yesterday. Okay?” Greg said in a measured tone. This employee was particularly frustrating, never willing to take the responsibility Greg was willing – and happy – to give him.

The aggravating call must have affected him, because Greg sliced his 3 Wood off the fourth tee, ending up in the thick grass to the right of the fairway. He hit his next shot fat, advancing his ball only about 50 yards. Luckily, he hit a monster four iron onto the green and two-putted, happy to walk off with another bogey.

The fifth hole was one of his favorites. A 137-yard par 3 over a beautiful lake. Greg’s 7 Iron landed within eight feet of the flag, but he wasn’t able to make the birdie putt. He walked off the green with a disappointing par.

After three straight bogeys on holes 6, 7 and 8, Greg’s cell phone rang again. Another “emergency” at work. Greg dealt with the issue in hushed tones with his back to the green, while Mark and the Babsons putted out on 8.

While Greg loved the fifth hole, he absolutely hated the ninth. While still a par 3, the hole played 192 yards into the wind. But he smashed a 5 wood to the fringe, had a nice pitch and made his five-footer for par. After nine holes, Greg was five over par. He’d never shot under 50 on the front nine before.

The foursome made a quick stop at the snack bar. Greg had a hot dog while walking the several hundred yards to the 10th hole. He also packed away a hard boiled egg, a snickers bar and a banana for the back nine.

Greg’s best score on an 18 hole, par 72 course was 91. His best score on this particular course was 95. Here he was on pace to shoot an 82. An 82! He tried hard to calm himself down, knowing how important this would be on the remaining holes.

It was time for the driver. Greg lifted it slowly out of his golf bag and took a few practice swings. He teed the ball up a little higher than when hitting his 3 Iron, took another practice swing and stepped up to hit. Crack! Greg had bombed one over 270 yards down the center of the fairway. He actually let a smile escape.

After two more disappointing swings, Greg was on the green, but over forty feet from the hole. Silently cursing himself for not taking advantage of his colossal drive, he almost carelessly sent his putt on the way to the cup. A break to the right, then downhill, then another break, and then… Bam! The hole stopped the ball, as they say. He’d made the putt for an unlikely birdie.

Amazingly, Greg hit another 40-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole. By this time, Les and Ruth were giving him high fives and pats on the back. His brother-in-law was incredulous, but supportive, yelling “It’s in the hole!” in his best Bill Murray imitation after both putts.

Greg’s phone rang again en route to the 12th hole. This time, it was his sister, checking up on Mark. “I really gotta go” Greg pleaded to end the call. Annoyed, Greg played poorly on 12 and 13, with double bogeys on each.

The 14th hole was the easiest hole on the course. Playing only 470 yards downwind, he played 4 Iron, 7 Iron, Sand Wedge and made a nice eight footer for another birdie, his third of the round. Another first! He’d never had three birdies in a single round before.

Stranger than fiction, Greg chipped in from off the green on 15 for yet another birdie. This really was his day.

Rrrring, rrrring! Rrrring, rrrring! Greg’s phone rang again. He could barely control his anger as he answered the phone. “What?!” he barked. This time, the call was from his neighbor, who was complaining about Greg and Nancy’s tree, which he said was dropping leaves on his property. “What are you going to do about it?” he asked. Greg told him he’d stop by later in the day to discuss the issue.

Somehow, Greg managed to keep his composure after the call with his neighbor and managed a par on the 16th and 17th holes. After 17 holes – four birdies, six pars, five bogeys and two double bogeys – Greg was sitting at 73 strokes. Even if he double bogeyed 18 with a 6, he’d still shoot a 79. Not only would this be the first time he’d break 90, but he’d also, insanely, break 80!

As he walked up to the 18th tee, a strange calmness enveloped Greg. When his phone rang again – for the fifth time that day – he didn’t get upset or angry. Somehow, subconsciously, he knew that this was the round of his life. One that he’d remember for years to come. Almost in slow motion, Greg reached for his phone and answered it.

“Honey, it’s me. My water broke. We’re having a baby!”

“When?” asked Greg.

“Right now. I’m at the hospital. The nurse said I’m already 7cm dilated. I need you here with me. I know you’re out having a good time and all, but…”

“I’ll be right there.” Greg pressed the red “End” key on his cell phone and put it back in his golf bag.

“Well, Mark, Les, Ruth, I need to go. It was nice playing with you all.”

Mark’s playing partners were stunned. Not having heard his phone call with his wife, they didn’t know what was going on. Sensing this, Greg added, “I’m having a baby today. Right now, in fact.”

As Greg jogged along the cart path along the 18th fairway back to the clubhouse, he looked back to see Les high-five Ruth, congratulating her on her tee shot. In the distance, the elderly couple and his brother-in-law seemed almost giddy. And as he threw his clubs in the trunk of his car and backed out of his parking spot, Greg realized that his subconscious had been right. He really was having the round – and the day – of his life. He and his wife were having a baby.

Eighteen years later, after finishing a round of golf with his son, Josh, Greg pulled Josh aside and gave him the scorecard from the day Josh was born. It was yellowing and frayed at the edges, but still quite legible. Greg told his son the story of that day. Josh couldn’t believe his eyes, especially since his dad had just finished shooting a 95, just like always. Or almost always, apparently.

 

 

Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out
Par 5 4 4 4 3 5 4 4 3 36

 

Greg

5

5

[5]

10

4

14

[5]

19

3

22

[6]

28

[5]

33

[5]

38

3

41

41

 

 

Hole 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot
Par 5 4 4 3 5 4 3 4 4 36  

72

 

Greg

(4)

45

(3)

48

[6]

54

[5]

59

(4)

63

(3)

66

3

69

4

73

DNF DNF DNF

DNF = Did Not Finish

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