Blackjack On the Golf Course


The scorecard above highlights the most bizarre (and second-most embarrassing) round of golf I’ve ever played. Read on to learn how balancing the ups and downs of the little game of golf can help you handle the bigger game of life.

The 10-hole stretch depicted above occurred Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at the fantastic En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, New York, site of the annual Dick’s Sporting Goods Open on golf’s Champions Tour.

The five numbers with circles represent one-under par “birdies.” The “21” represents a 21. That’s NOT an aggregate score. That’s for a single hole, #10 to be exact. The short par-4 with the small pond protecting the green. The unassuming body of water that greedily swallowed NINE of my golf balls.

I tried three different types of wedges and various styles of shot and could not convert the 20-yard shot over the water and onto the green. The ball squirted off the wrong portion of the club face over and over and over.

Like a one-eyed farmer swinging a scythe at a slippery rodent in a field of alfalfa.

At one point, as I was running out of ammo in my bag, I considered chipping the ball AROUND the pond in order to reach my destination. Luckily, my 19th swing on #10 cleared the water and two strokes later I was in the cup.

My playing partners, Ken Gardiner, Frank Suits, and Eric Schneider, waiting patiently on the green, tried everything to help me out of (and help themselves from catching!) my horrifying case of the shanks. They looked away. They turned their backs to the carnage. They laughed.

None of them could keep track of the gross number of shots I took on #10. Even Ken. And he’s an accountant.

Frank runs a very successful business and plays a LOT of golf; he had never seen anything like it.

Eric wished he had filmed it with his phone. Ken said: “Nah, you’d run out of memory trying to capture the whole thing.”

After #10, I birdied the next two holes, and four of seven following my fiasco. All in all, five birdies and a 21 during a 10-hole stretch! Because…why not!

My entire round, totaling 98 whacks, paled in comparison to the humiliating 112 I shot last year in a tournament round that featured back-to-back TWELVES on consecutive holes.

In Parenthood, the brilliant 1989 movie, one poignant scene features actress Helen Shaw as the grandmother of the Buckman family. She goes on and on about amusement parks and roller coasters and merry-go-rounds from her youth. Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen think she’s nuts. But she ends up making a sage point about the thrilling ups and downs of the coaster.

My round of golf at En-Joie was a roller coaster. And, even though I wanted to get off and walk home, I’ll ride it again. Golf and roller coasters provide excellent metaphors for life. Weather the ups and downs of THEM, maybe you’ll be okay with everything else.

The only question now is this: If one-under par on a hole is called a “birdie,” and one-over par is known as a “bogey,” what do we call a 17-over score of 21? A blackjack? A Sasquatch? Any ideas? What’s YOUR most bizarre golf story?

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio host, who currently carries a handicap of 7 and a LOT more golf balls in his bag…just in case.

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