Going under the knife (and more golf)

Today’s the day that I get my knee scoped. Surgery is scheduled for 12:45. I’m told it should take about 45 minutes and that I’ll be walking out of the outpatient facility by about 3PM. I purposely scheduled the operation for a Thursday in the hopes that I could avoid missing any of my Wednesday night men’s league golf matches. My surgeon said I should be back on the golf course within a week so I’m hopeful I can play next Wed night.

Speaking of men’s league golf, my partner, the previously blogged Lanny Sommese, and I had an almost legendary match last night. We play nine hole matches with two points available on every hole, low net wins a point, high net loses a point (we keep league handicaps according to USGA rules and play the matches at an 80% handicap).

Our match was a big one for the league standings. We were in seventh place and were playing the fourth place team who was just 3 points ahead of us in the standings (you get two points for a win, one for a tie).

Lanny and I started poorly and were down 6 points after five holes (for the math challenged, that means there were only 4 holes or eight points left so we were in a pretty big hole). Coincidently though, Lanny and I hold the league record for the greatest comeback when last year we rallied from the exact same 6 and 8 deficit to win by one. We almost did it again.

We won two points on the sixth hole of the match, halved the seventh hole, and won two points on the eigth. That left us down two with one hole to play. Last night’s matches were a shotgun start and our match had started on the ninth hole, so we were finishing on the eighth hole.

The eighth hole is the #1 handicap hole on the course. From our tees, it’s a 576 yard par five with a small stream that runs down the left side of the fairway for the last 250 yards. Because it’s the #1 handicap, three of the guys in the foursome were getting strokes on the hole. Our opponents, Roger (6 handicap) and Bill (4 handicap), had honors. Roger hit a good drive about 210 yards down the middle of the fairway. Bill pulled his drive along the treeline to the left but it wound up safely in the rough about 230 from the tee. Lanny (11 handicap) hit a perfect drive about 240 down the middle. I (16 handicap) was up last and caught my ball very thin, failing to clear a hill in the fairway that crests at about 180 yards off the tee.

Then. for my next shot, I absolutely smoked my hybrid three iron hitting it about 220 yards to the dead center of the fairway about 190 out. Roger was up next and hit a decent five wood about 10 yards inside of me. Bill made a great save out of the rough and hit a rescue club to about 130 out. Lanny pulled a three wood just left of the stream ending up in the rough about 150 out.

I was up first need to come up with a shot. I responded, hitting the same hybrid club 190 onto the green but a decent way from the hole (the pin was tucked inside the bunkers on the left and my shot ended up on the far right side of the green). Roger, feeling the pressure, pulled his five wood slightly and wound up in the left bunker protecting the front of the green. Because Lanny was getting a stoke I encouraged him to not get suckered into going pin hunting saying that all we probably would need was a ball on the green and two putt to pull out a tie. Playing strategically, Lannie hit a 7 iron to the fat of the green but because he was coming in from the left angle, it travelled to the far right. The green is also two tiered and Lanny’s ball rolled up onto the second tier while the pin was down in the first tier.

That put the pressure squarely on Bill. We now had two balls on the green – in net two because we were both getting strokes. His partner, while also lying net two, was in trouble in the greenside bunker. Bill, playing without the benefit of a stroke on this hole was still 130 yards out. He rose to the occasion and hit a beautiful shot right at the flag. The ball checked up about 12 feet below the hole.

The pressure was now on Roger to come up with a decent bunker shot. He also executed well with his ball rolling about 10 feet from the hole. Both of our opponents putts were makeable but by no means easy. Now the pressure was back on us to get down in two. I had about a 50 foot putt that I hit real well – it ended up about 3 feet below the whole. Lanny was next with about a 45 footer but with much more of a challenge than I had because he was on the upper tier and was going to have to carefully roll the ball along the ridge and just have it gently fall down toward the hole. He executed perfectly and the ball nestled two feet from the hole.

The pressure now went squarely back to our opponents – and they finally blinked. Bill just missed his birdie put by an inch and tapped in for a five. Roger failed to get his par saving putt down and tapped in for his six. That meant that either Lanny or I needed to make our putts. I calmly drained mine for a net birdie, then Lanny did the same with his, giving us two points and tying the match.

The comeback was great because we did it by playing well not by having our opponents hand the match to us (Bill shot a 39 for his nine and Roger had a 41). We managed the tie because Lanny and I shot two over par for the last four holes which included the two hardest holes on the nine.

Yet as satisfying as the tie was, it should have been a victory. We should have gotten at least one point on the hole that we tied during our comeback. Lanny had a five foot putt for birdie that he and I misread and I missed a three foot putt for par. If either of us makes those putts we win rather than tie.

Still, we’ll take the tie given how futile things looked standing on tie of the sixth hole of the match down six to one of the better teams in the league. The point that we earned managed to move us up one notch in the league standings. We are now in sixth place.

I’ll update all on my surgery later today.