Hole 5, Red Tail Golf Club
That One Perfect Shot
By mjaber on 1/22/13
As long as oobers like Mike Jaber submit well written guest columns, we're going to keep publishing them. Enjoy!

If you've played more than one round of golf, you can probably remember a shot that made you stop and say to yourself, "This game isn't so hard." I want to tell you about one of mine.

Last year was a very slow year of golf for me. I only managed to get in two rounds. With a two-year-old daughter and a house, there just wasn't time to get to the course. My weekends were filled with yard work, swing-set tear-down and assembly, power wheels Jeep repair, and other "grown-up" things. I did manage to get to the driving range every couple of weeks, so my swing wasn't a complete mess, but I was nowhere near the level of consistency I was before I had a complete family.

I've been playing for about five years now. I've managed to get into the 80s a couple of times on familiar courses. I consider myself an average weekend golfer - I play because I enjoy it. According to oob, I have about a 23-ish handicap. On a normal day, I'll hit a few fairways, a few greens, make a couple of pars, but mostly I'm a bogey-or-worse kinda guy. I don't shape the ball. I've got one swing and one shot, which happens to be a cut. Typically it's a 5-10 yard cut, sometimes a little less, sometimes a lot more, but I'd say about 70% of the time it's about right.

My last round last year was at a very nice course — Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, MA. Normally, I wouldn't even think about playing here, since the greens fees in the off-season are more than I would spend. Add to cost the fact that it is considered one of the tougher public courses in the area and has hosted a USGA final, and I thought I wasn't worthy. The only reason I was there is because a co-worker is friends with an employee at a country club, and he swapped rounds with an employee at Red Tail. Free golf is good golf. It was the beginning of October, and I hadn't even thought about golfing for about a month. The way things has been going, I had figured my one round earlier was going to be it, so I hadn't even been to the range, so going in I knew I had to lower my expectations even further.

The warm-up on the range was not promising. Chunks, skulls, big, sweeping slices — it was bad. So, after a few balls, off to the first tee we went. The first hole wasn't bad. Tee ball in the fairway, my approach came up a little short, a chip and a couple putts and I was off with a bogey. I could have stopped right then and there, gone back to the club house, put my feet up and it would have been a good day.

The next couple of holes didn't go so well. I ended up in some nasty bunkers on the next hole, and carded a 5 on the first par 3. I managed to get back on the bogey track on the next hole, though.

The next hole, another par 3, is where the shot came. The fifth hole at Red Tail is a 161 yard, uphill par-3 (from the silver tees) called "Draw", because that's what you are supposed to hit. From the tee, the hole goes out to the right and then turns back in to the green, with the left side of the green guard by a bunker built into the side of a hill. It's rather intimidating to stand on the tee box and have virtually no "safe" options. I couldn't hit it short because of the forced carry. There wasn't a lot of room on the right to miss, and missing left was even worse.

My only option was to take my 5-iron, which is the last club I ever want to have to pull out of my bag, and hope I could get it there. I knew my 5-hybrid would be too long, and my 6-iron wasn't going to get there. I was last on the tee. It was pars and bogeys all around on the last hole, and since I had gone triple/double on the previous two holes, there I sat. I watched everyone else (who hit draws), bail out right, safely on, or just short of the green.

The pin was set front right, on pretty much a straight line from the tee to the first point of the bunker. With my shot shape I really only had one option, and it was not a safe one. I played the percentages though. I knew if I played for my usual miss (a slice), I'd be OK. So, I did the unthinkable. I set my tee, and picked my target line, right into the middle of the bunker, on the side of the hill, protecting the green.

I took a deep breath, and swung. I don't remember having any particular "swing thought" in my head. I have no idea what I was thinking even trying this, but as I finished my follow-through, I found the ball, heading right on my line, right at the bunker. I heard my playing partners say "wow" and "nice swing". I watched as the ball reached its peak, and then turned, ever so slightly, to the right, heading directly toward the flag. The only thing I could think was, "be enough club."

Sure enough, it was. My ball settled about ten feet below the hole. I doubt I could do it again, but for that one moment, I had what I consider the perfect golf shot. Sure, I missed the birdie putt, but I'm OK with it. A two-putt par on a 161-yard, uphill par-3, on the most difficult course I have ever played, from a set of tees I really should not have been playing from, is about as good as I could have hoped for.

It was one shot, in a round that featured a total of 113 strokes, but when it all comes together and everything works just like it was supposed to, it's easy to forget the other 112.

This was written by Mike Jaber, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

Have an idea for a guest column? Send it here!

Image via Red Tail Golf

[ comments ]
GolfSmith7 says:
It only takes one shot to keep you coming for more!
Torleif Sorenson says:
Great story - and proof positive that visualizing your shot beforehand really works. Amongst other things, if you're faced with the same circumstances, you know that you HAVE executed that shot before.

The humorous reference would be the scene in "Tin Cup" where Cheech Marin tells Kevin Costner on the range that the reason he didn't foozle his shot was that he wasn't thinking about the shot - or anything.
Werepuppie says:
In every round there is usually one great shot.Otherwise people would quit this game.
mjaber says:
Oops... I messed up my left and right. The pin was actually set front-left, close to the bunker.
zeroSPace says:
That's what my father taught me to call a "sucker shot" No matter how bad you've played the entire round, there's usually one shot that gets you coming back for more. :)
bkuehn1952 says:
So it looks like Joe and I are going to have to start working if we want to contend for "2013 oob Contributor of the Year"!!

Nice story - one which we can all relate to. Thanks!
Wes11point5 says:
Yes, this is the insidious part of the game. No matter how well you may play, there will always be the post round "man if I didn't have those 4 3-putts it would have been an 82". Pretty soon golf has the hooks in you and you are a golfer for life.
onedollarwed says:
It made me wonder which shots I remember clearly through the mists of time. I recall one of first truly well-shaped shots: with a 9-iron at Tekoa (a Donald Ross, also in MA, near Westfield): an approach after an errant drive through and around some trees onto the green for a birdie putt(made..."schwing!").

The result wasn't as important as the feeling of control and getting it right (adjusting the hook for increased yardage/lower trajectory) from visualization through design and execution. I'm not a particularly mechanical golfer so this was quite a revelation. After that shot, I certainly became more of a shaper: preferring to shape the ball.

I think as golfers we are constantly hitting the ball far away from us; if we wanted to control the ball we would putt the ball the whole way from tee to green, like a hockey player or a football side. In a game where great distances and obstacles are overcome with a parsimony of whacks, we are transfixed with that rare combination of extreme force and control.
legitimatebeef says:
Good shots are nice.
GBogey says:
Golf is assuredly a mystifying game. It would seem that if a person has hit a golf ball correctly a thousand times, he should be able to duplicate the performance at will. But such is certainly not the case.
- Bobby Jones
Tim Horan says:
Great story - Keep them coming!
mjaber says:
@bkuehn1952... I seem to write in spurts. I just wish I could get back to the book I've been working on for the last decade.
Matt McGee says:
Good article. You made me wish, again, that the stupid snow would melt.
joe jones says:
Wonderful writing. Hitting one shot like that is what brings us back over and over. I have a collection of over 200 Sports articles I have written over the years. Procrastination is the only excuse I have for not publishing. Oh Well. I'll do it tomorrow. Maybe.
metnorm says:
I hate this game I hate this game, great shot, I love this game.
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