Last Saturday was the biggest competition of the year in Clonmel Golf Club. The Captains Prize was held. This is a competition that everyone at the club wants to win because it puts you in the history books and it is a great honour to win the trophy each year. There also is some great prizes for the winner. I had gone up twice the week before to hone my skills on the course.
Most amateur golf competitions are played using the Stapleford method.
Lets start with the official
Stapleford is a scoring system in golf which, rather than counting the total number of strokes taken, involves scoring points based on the number of strokes taken at each hole. The objective in Stapleford, therefore, is to have the highest score – unlike traditional scoring methods.
Thanks google! I couldn't of explained it better myself. So if a player is playing off an 18 handicap like yours truly they get a free shot on every hole. They would be awarded the following points for each score.
Eagle -5 points
Birdie - 4 points
Par - 3 points
Bogey -2 points
Double Bogey -1 point
Double Bogey and beyond -0
This method is great because amateur golfers normally fuck up a hole or two or in my case 5. If they do then they get 0 points for it whether they get a 7,8, 9 or 10. But they technically can still win the competition. In Clonmel 42 points would win a competition easily. In the Winter you might be talking 36 points for the win. So 18 holes to get 42 points seems easy. It is anything but. A couple of zero's on your card and you have an uphill battle. But it is the most preferable method to play because it is not the end of the world if you scratch a hole.
Stroke play Method
Now the Captains prize is stroke play. So if you get a ten on a hole, you get a ten on a hole. And you have to spend the rest of the round chasing your tail or being a miserable git and wish the ground swallowed you up.You have to play a much safer game with stroke play. You cannot afford a high score or your entire round is up in smoke. So playing safe and course management come into play more. In stapleford method you tend to go for holes more and take more chances. Lads I know gave up golf on the first green and walked off the golf course throwing their golf bag in the ditch with the stroke play method. It is cruel. Very cruel. Seeing that myself and my golf partner always play the course in stableford method we decided to go up twice and play the course like we would play the Captains prize. Stroke play.
So on Monday before I scored went around in 90 which is good for me. Take my 18 handicap off and thats a 72. The course is a 71 so thats 1 over. Not bad. I wouldn't be far off with that score. On the Wednesday I went around in 88 shots. So now with my handicap taken off my net would be 70. 1 under. I was quietly confident going into the Saturday. This was my year. I booked in a time at 6.30am. The weather forecast was giving rain all day except between 6:30 and 8:30am. Better to get most of the round out of the way before the bad weather hit. Suckersssssss!!
I met my playing partner at 6:20. The third guy was a no-show. His name was Kevin. Kevin was out the night before and was dying of a hangover. It was 6.30am so he was only home a couple of hours and had to get up and play this competition. The boy had honour. While walking down the 1st Kevin realised that his lighter wasn't working and nearly had heart failure. I hate the 1st hole in a major competition. Fat old men at the tee box judging you. I hit a good one off. Middle of fairway. Kevin relaxed me with lighter gate. He was thinking so much about the lighter that he mishit the ball three times. I got a bogey on the first and Kevin got a 7. He was off a handicap of 10 so it was a disaster start for him.
The 2nd is a long par 4. Reaching it in 2 is not an option. It was on for my par but 2 putted and got a 6. Not ideal but not a disaster. Kevin got a 10 and started getting sick off the green. Kevin made me look like a saint. I liked Kevin alot.
Next up the easiest par 3 on the course. 140 yard straight downhill. Easy. I shanked it and ended up getting a 5. Kevin steadied up from his vomiting and got a par. He then went on to start scoring. The fourth I got a bogey which was good so at that point I was happy with my game apart from the 5 on the third. Then disaster struck. The 5th is a dog leg right. Water at 240 yards and where did I go. Into the water. I hit a third off the tee again. Beautiful. Into the water. I ended up with a nine. My Captains prize was waving me goodbye. I realised it is hard to get back from this and I recorded two 8's on the next two holes and a 10 on the ninth after another lost ball. This was a disaster. I had never gone out in 60 before. Mother of god.
Kevin was too busy empty reaching on the 9th to realise I had got a 10. While marking my card he asked me what I got. Another two balls in the water.
You got a what? he said
I nodded and it was my lowest ever point on a golf course in 5 years. That's golf for you. Think you cracked it when your handicap is going down and then it cuts you right back to size.
Here is my scorecard. For all to see. But strangely I don't feel bad about it. I played great in some stages on the back nine and these things happen.
I felt strangely serene after that round that humbled me and it makes me even more motivated to enter another competition soon enough. It can't get any worse than that. It just can't. So here I am on my golf career at rock bottom but I am happy about it. I decided to post the card up as therapy. 50 people did not hand in their card last Saturday. I handed it in. Fuck it , if I came last I came last. Next year if I come second last then it's an improvement. That's how I am looking at this now. I went up again tonight and shot a 90. That's golf for ya. The only sport you play that you are more miserable playing than happy. It is also the only sports that the better you get at it , he less you play it. Took me a couple of seconds to figure that last one out.
A man I played with once gave me two pieces of advice.
"Give it up for a month, don't play at all" he said to me
And whats the second piece of advice? I asked eagerly to this wise sage.
"Then after the month give it up altogether" he said
We both fell around the place laughing. This game will not beat me. There are too many beautiful courses in Ireland to give it up and I want to get to alot more before that happened. Maybe i will improve in the process. All it takes is one good shot into a green to make it all worth while and thankfully there is one every round (until it rolls off the back and into the fucking water!!)