Last Round Blues

Last Round Blues (a sad tale of a golf season’s cold ending)
by  John Schneider

The leaves have all vanished, the grass has stopped growing, and the temperature has dropped to the freezing level.  Rain, snow, clouds, and wind have long replaced the sunny 70 degree days.  Welcome to November in Wisconsin.

When will the last round of golf for the season be carded?  For most Wisconsinites the season ends around the beginning of September; about the time that Aaron Rodgers starts tossing touchdowns for the Green Bay Packers.  Sadly, play does not come around again until late April; once the Brewer’s Ryan Braun starts hitting homeruns.  However, for the diehards like me, any day above freezing is a possible game day when the reality of long term snow cover is staring you in the face.

This last Saturday of November was a cloudy day with mist/rain falling on and off.  The Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie had been consumed.  Black Friday chaos has scared the normal guy away from the stores.  What is the only logical thing for me to do?  It was definitely time to hit the links for that last round of the year!!!

After several calls to many of my regular golf buddies I was able to get a foursome put together.  That process was not without its own battles.  It is amazing how many people called me crazy and a dummy.  Have they not known me for the last 20 years of my golf life?  Well we had 4 dummies; Jim, Bill, and Zack were just as golf crazy as me.

Earlier in the week I made tee times at Nagawaukee War Memorial Golf Course (262-367-2153;  Located in Delafield, Nagawaukee is a Waukesha County golf course that has many fantastic views of Pewaukee Lake.  (Indian names are all over Wisconsin – If you can pronounce Nagawaukee or Pewaukee then give Oconomowoc or Wauwatosa a try.)  Built in 1966, Nagawaukee, “Nags” for short, is a very mature course that takes you in and out of the wooded Kettle Moraine hills.  This golf course is a gem and gets tons of play.  Normally it takes 8 or 9 days of planning to get a good tee time on Saturday, but clearly the last Saturday in November is not normal.  With rates around $35 for an 18 hole round this course is usually a bargain, but the late season “buck-a-hole” special was a treat.  Any true golfer in the Milwaukee area should give this golf course at least one try.

I was surprised to see that about a dozen groups came out to the links on this gray and dreary day.  The rain was pretty much a mist on the front nine, but while playing the back nine we pretty much dealt with a constant light rain.  Due to the rain and cold, it was not a surprise that our group was the last off the course.

Nagawaukee is a course that tends to play to the strengths of my game.  The blue tees are 6,830 yards with a rating of 72 and slope of 126.  The white tees run 6,501 yards with a rating of 70.4 and 123 slope.  My handicap index of 11 was built on using all sides of the fairways (and rough).  Today, however, the golf gods help me stay on track.  Through the cold and rain I was able to hit 9 of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation.  Apparently my putter was not included in the blessings from the gods.  The 36 putts cost me my second round in the 70s for the season.  I faced 11 birdie putts (including 1 eagle putt try), but could only card pars or above.

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While I am not sure this will be my last round of the season, it is likely to be.  Last year Jim and I (i.e., dummy #1 & #2) were lucky enough to dodge the snow piles while playing 18 holes on the last day of the year.  Scoring an 80 is a pretty darn good way to end the season.  However, 80 is a dreaded breakpoint in a true golfer’s numerology.  79 is only 1 stroke better, but it creates a thousand more memories.  I make it a rule not to think about or calculate my score while playing each round.  The last thing my game needs is more pressure on that next swing or putt.  After making 8 straight pars (I am sure that is a record for me), I walked to my drive in the middle of the 17th fairway knowing that a score in the 70s was very possible… Damn it, why did my mind go there?!?!  My 4-iron from 202 yards out had the distance, but faded towards the end.  After hitting the side slope next to the green it disappeared into the woods.  Welcome to the double-bogie blues.  After a near perfect drive and sand-wedge I was 6 feet from birdie on the final hole, but the putter (and operator) did not have the magic touch.  42 on the front nine and 38 on the back nine equals 80 all day.

The only thing left (besides the would have, should have, and could haves) was to collect the winning Nassau wagers and rush home to jump into the hot tub.  A 79 to end the golf season would have definitely been “living the dream”.  Guess I need to get in another “last round of the year”!!!  Has anyone checked the weather report for Christmas Day yet?

Published Fall 2013

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