TrapDraw, Episode 11: NLU Crew


#1

Some great questions from @Tron and @Randy that lead to thoughtful discussion. Would be an interesting format for fellow refugees.

Why do you love golf?
What was your introduction to golf?
When did you fall in love with golf?
Did you ever work at a golf course?
Did you watch a lot of golf growing up? Who were your favorite and least favorite players growing up?
Highest moment in golf?
Lowest Moment in golf?


#2

I’ll give it a shot!

  • I love it because I can constantly challenge myself, every round is different, and no matter how bad I play, I will always hit at least one shot that keeps me coming back.
  • My dad got me out playing when I was 3 or 4 at our local muni, and we played as much as we could together while I was growing up.
  • I fell in love with golf watching Tiger play when I was a kid. And this kind of answers the other question, but I remember we had the 1999 PGA on VHS, and I would sit and rewind the Tiger-Sergio battle. I got in early and have stayed with it.
  • I worked at my local crappy country club for a summer as a greenskeeper’s assistant. The head greenskeeper’s name was Glen, he wore all-denim every day in Texas summers, chain-smoked Marlboro Reds and his son, a convicted felon, was the other assistant. It was an enlightening summer.
  • My favorite was Tiger, and my least favorite was Rory Sabbatini. That guy sucks.
  • Highest moment was going birdie-par-birdie to win a four-ball match with my dad in the club competition with our rival country club. Our team got boatraced, but we went 2-0-0 as a pairing.
  • Played in a club golf tournament my first week in college. Shot 83 first day, which was fine. Shot 98 the second day. Didn’t play another one.

#3

Why do you love golf?
Honestly, do not really know why. Of course there is the played out “always chasing perfection” bit, but I truly found love for the game outside of competition. I think it is the combination of all the parts that makes me love the game. The pro game, gear, storylines, personalities, birdies, unnecessary bogeys, winning, loosing, new courses, old courses, 300 yard drives, spinny wedges, sinking putts, how the game is governed - all of it together fills my mind constantly with golf.

What was your introduction to golf?
Moved to Massachusetts when I was 10ish years old. Had a few neighborhood friends who played a lot in the yards. Attached to it ever since.

When did you fall in love with golf?
I was lucky enough to receive a “scholarship” to Lake of Isles golf course in Connecticut. 5 guys and 5 gals of different ages were selected for this program. We received weekly group lessons and full access to the facilities. Have been totally hooked ever since.

Did you ever work at a golf course?
Yep. Cart barn for two years. Would go right back to it if it would pay the bills.

Did you watch a lot of golf growing up? Who were your favorite and least favorite players growing up?
Yep. Watched every Sunday when Tiger was playing. Was adamantly against anyone who was challenging Tiger at the time.

Highest moment in golf?
Hopefully to be determined. Placing top 5 in regionals and making the state championship individually and as a team was a big high. Playing Sand Valley, The Sandbox, and Mammoth Dunes a few weeks ago is way up there.

Lowest Moment in golf?
Being even through 14 holes in the state championship (same tourney as mentioned above) and completely ejecting on the finishing stretch to shoot something in the 80’s was a low point.


#4

Why do you love golf?
I love golf because every single round is a different experience. Even if you’re playing the same course on consecutive days, so many things are going to be different (pins, weather, playing partners, etc). It’s never the same and that’s awesome.

What was your introduction to golf?
I grew up in a neighborhood with a golf course, but barely ever played because basketball and soccer were my sports. I started playing golf in college, some guys in my dorm played during high school and taught me about etiquette and how to play the game on our college course.

When did you fall in love with golf?
Probably about 10 years ago when I got out of working 60-80 hours per week and actually had time to start putting into my game. My handicap started coming down and I started walking almost all of my rounds, and that allowed me to enjoy the game more.

Did you ever work at a golf course?
No

Did you watch a lot of golf growing up? Who were your favorite and least favorite players growing up?
Not while growing up, but I watched Tiger win the 1997 Masters and said to myself “I look like him, I can play golf.” I realize that’s pretty superficial, but as a non-white guy, golf was intimidating to me before that. After that, I was a Tiger guy and that made me an anti-Phil guy. Like many others, my take on Phil has changed a lot over the years.

Highest moment in golf?
3 years ago, playing as my dad’s guest in his member-guest for the first time. Get into the playoffs, 10 teams playing alternate shot on the last 4 holes of the course. Go into a 5-for-1 chip-off after the first hole, and they do the customary thing where the teams can’t watch the other teams hit their chips. We get up there and it’s an impossible chip, from the back right of the green with the pin near the back and green sloping heavily from back to front. My dad gets up and flubs his chip. I get up and throw this flop shot onto the back fringe, and then it starts trickling down towards the hole and goes in! I absolutely lose it, throw my wedge into the ground and give it my biggest Tiger fist pump. People at my Dad’s club still tell me they don’t remember who won the member-guest that year, but they remember that shot.

Lowest Moment in golf?
Years ago, I wasn’t nearly as good as I am now but took the game way too seriously. I was playing with my Dad and hit some type of bad shot, and then got upset and hit my bag with my club. My dad doesn’t say a ton, but when he does, it means something. He looks straight into my eyes and says “You’re not good enough at this game to get mad about it.” I could tell that for the first time ever he was embarrassed to be out there with me. I wanted to crawl into a hole at that point. Since then, my perspective on the game has been so much healthier.


#5

Why do you love golf?
I love the challenge of every shot. No matter how good you are there is a chance that you chunk one or blade one and completely humble yourself. I love practicing (though I don’t get to much with young kids) and I love getting out of the house and spending time with the guys on the course.

What was your introduction to golf?
took a lesson when I was young, basically for something to do during the summer. We play for a family reunion every year and always had fun but never played much at all

When did you fall in love with golf?
Towards the end of college I started to play more. I had always played baseball and didn’t play until after the season. When I graduated, I was working 12-8 every day so I would go to the course for a couple of hours almost every day. I was completely hooked. Would hit balls or chip and putt at the practice area and the play on days off.

Did you ever work at a golf course?
No

Did you watch a lot of golf growing up? Who were your favorite and least favorite players growing up?
Not a ton. Went to the John Deere Classic every year and watched occasionally on other weeks but didn’t really care.

Highest moment in golf?
Never played competitively so list is limited here. I once chipped in on 18 to shoot even, only time I have ever done that.
or Playing TPC Deere Run and shot 36 on the front for 1 over… to be continued below.

Lowest Moment in golf?
Got the hooks on the back. Started 10 with a huge duck hook out of bounds, put next ball in the water green side and never recovered. shot 49 on the back.


#6

Why do you love golf?
I love golf because everyday, every round, every shot is a unique challenge. There is never a single moment that is remotely the same. Constantly a struggle, perfection can never be attained.

What was your introduction to golf?
I actually caddied growing up at a local private course but rarely ever played. Caddied for a long time just to make money then started seriously playing in college when my soccer “career” dried up.

When did you fall in love with golf?
I realize now that I have always loved the game, even when I wasn’t actually playing it. Frankly, I was a really good caddie as a youngster…probably one of the reasons I went into engineering. The math, physics, strategy involved with golf always really intrigued me. When I truly fell in love was when I realized my athleticism allowed/enabled me to enjoy the application of the strategy.

Did you ever work at a golf course?
Yep, caddied since elementary school.

Did you watch a lot of golf growing up? Who were your favorite and least favorite players growing up?
Sparingly when not at the golf course. I always followed golf from a distance but it was mainly to keep up friendly banter with members and players on the course. I did not truly enjoy watching golf until I reached my early 20s just after college/grad school. It’s a great sport to have on in the background while studying or working on other tasks. Always, always loved Tiger like so many others. Not while growing up, but I really struggle with Bubba’s attitude on the golf course. There are just too many examples of him being an asshole.

Highest moment in golf?
I have two. One was draining a 40-footer for eagle during a local fourball event to win the tournament. The second was a fairway hole out for birdie from 150 yards…after a terrible drive and punch out.
One other happened in competition against me. During our annual Ryder Cup weekend, a good buddy of mine drained a really tough downhill 20 foot birdie putt to win the weekend after I tapped in for par. We were the final singles match and it came down to us. We’d gone back and forth all day, never more than a one hole up or down. It was an epic match. Tough to lose, but it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course to this day.

Lowest Moment in golf?
I think rarely playing when I was younger has somewhat tempered my expectations for my golf game. I really try to keep it in perspective and always strive to improve. I’m actually much tougher on myself when it comes to caddying. I’ve had a few misreads on wind or other course management situations that I would love to have back. Nothing truly specific comes to mind, though.


#7

I love reading about people’s unique story with the game. Thanks @3wiggle for getting this started, and thanks to all who have shared.


#8

Why do you love golf?
I enjoy the singular focus golf allows me to have. Just shut out the noise and work on the task at hand. Grinding on the driving range can be as therapeutic as walking 9 or 18. Enjoying the outdoors, good company and the feeling of a purely struck shot are major contributing factors to my love of the game. Golf also fills the masculine need to acquire things and tinker.

What was your introduction to golf?
My dad started taking me with him to our neighborhood driving range (it is now an apartment complex) when I was 6 or 7. He was learning the game for work and I would always get 10-20 minutes of the lessons he took. I would do 2-3 golf camps every summer, and started playing summer league tournaments after 6th grade. We joined a country club in 7th or 8th grade and that’s when my development really started to speed up.

When did you fall in love with golf?
The last round I played with my dad before I went off to college. It was one of the few times I saw the old man get misty eyed. Shaking hands on the 18th green I realized we had played together every weekend for the last 7-8 years. That moment helped me see golf for more than a competitive pursuit.

Did you ever work at a golf course?
Yes, the summer after my senior year of high school and every break home from college after that for 2 more years. I detailed some of the funniest stories here: Best stories from working at a golf course

Did you watch a lot of golf growing up? Who were your favorite and least favorite players growing up?
I definitely watched a lot growing up. Early on my favorite players were Greg Norman, DL3 and Ernie Els. I was never a Tiger fanboy until I got to attend the 2008 U.S. Open in person. Phil has gone up exponentially in my book over time. I remember celebrating his first Masters victory, but now I am a certifiable fanboy. Early on, all of my least favorite players were Euros, chiefly Colin Montgomerie. Jeff Maggert always rubbed me the wrong way as well.

Highest moment in golf?
Placing second in our district tournament my senior year (3 putted the 18th hole) and winning the team championship junior and senior years. Firing a 71 during freshman year qualifying for my collegiate team. Playing the final three holes at Whistling Straits in -1 en route to shooting an 82 that felt like 62. Now most of my highs in golf surround my best shots on buddies trips regardless of course pedigree. I probably think about my round at Ballybunion in 2010 the most of any round I’ve ever played. Close second would be Carnoustie the same year.

Lowest moment in golf?
Playing like hot garbage in our regional golf tournament every year. Ejecting in my only collegiate golf tournament, firing an 91-88 in the snow. Not making the college team my junior year after 4 rounds of 80-84 with exactly 45 putts per round each day. Any prolonged battle with the shanks.


#9
  • It is just the best. You can play with a group of friends, by yourself, or with a total stranger and still get a lot of enjoyment from it.

  • Dad introduced me at a young age and I’ve been hooked ever since, nothing too crazy.

  • Probably in college. I was a decent high school player but never really got over the hump. I’d get mad at myself on the course and all that and I didn’t enjoy it at times. In the summers during college I just stopped caring about how I played, and that’s when I started to get a lot better. Now I don’t get mad at bad shots, and its made the game that much better for me.

  • Was a bag boy for a bit in college. Tip money paid for my beer all summer.

  • Yes. As a lefty, I’ve always been a Phil guy. And I know this is unpopular, but I’ve always rooted against Tiger. Not as much anymore, but I disliked him for some reason when I was a kid.

  • My one and only hole in one. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving a group of guys from my hometown have a tournament called the Gobble Cup (6 hole best ball, 6 hole scramble, 6 hole alternate shot). On number 11, I cashed my tee shot with an 8 iron and had about 12-15 witnesses. We all proceeded to shotgun beers. It was awesome.

  • Last round of my high school career. Played terrible in our sectional tournament.


#10

Why do you love golf?
I love being outside and playing, whether its alone or with a group of friends. Every round, every course, every shot is different. There is always room to get better and the pursuit of those shots “left out there” always brings me back.

What was your introduction to golf?
Intro to the game started just watching on Sunday with my dad from really before I can remember. As the story goes, I started swinging without a club at around 2 in our living room in front of the tv. My parents were never big players but my dad grew up working at a Country Club so he knew the game and could get around a course. They bought me a plastic club and I would head out on the beach with the club and a plastic ball and just mess around.

When did you fall in love with golf?
I played my first tournament at the age of 5 or 6 and from then on I was hooked.

Did you ever work at a golf course?
No.

Did you watch a lot of golf growing up? Who were your favorite and least favorite players growing up?
My first real memory of a tournament was the 99 US Open at Pinehurst. We went for the weekend and was in the grandstands on 18 for Payne’s putt. Became a big fan of his then. Also watched the 99 Ryder Cup at Brookline and became a big Justin Leonard stan. Never drank the Phil Kool-Aid and haven’t been on board since. I’ve become a Tiger fan as the years have gone by.
Highest moment in golf?
Led the North-South Junior thru 2 rounds the summer after my junior year of high school. Shot my first 2 rounds under 70 in competition on back to back days. Played in the final group at Pinehurst #2. Probably 15 college coaches standing on the first tee and followed us for a good bit of that round. Ended up missing a playoff by a stroke and lost to a current PGA player (whose had some very problematic tweets and is on their 3rd or 4th account)

Lowest Moment in golf?
Touched on this in the Yips thread. Completely lost my swing in college for 3 days during the conference tournament. Shot in the triple digits the final day. Spent the entire summer contemplating quitting the game.


#11

@Randy Was there a member at Cincinatti CC name Tony Maus or Mass? He would come down to the club I worked at in Florida a few times a year with his sons and buddies and they were really, really cool dudes. He would scream the Bengals chant at the top of his lungs every time he showed up.


#12

Man, the name doesn’t ring a bell but it’s been more than 10 years now so I’m positive I’ve forgotten most of the names.


#13

I played in the North-South Junior as well back in the day, and I remember before the first round a bunch of college coaches talking to me about playing on their team, good luck out there, we’ll be following you, etc. Have no idea why they were talking to me. That got me extremely nervous and I shot 82 on course #5 (to this day my least favorite course in the world), and never heard from another college coach again. To make it worse, I played with a kid that shot 68. I felt like I shot 100. Goodbye D1.


#14

Why do you love golf?
The challenge of playing against yourself, against your past, against nature, and against your competitors simultaneously. Squeezing in a few extra holes as the sun fades on a long summer day. The thought of shooting my age and still being able to compete with my boys, and their kids, in 50 years. Spending four hours with strangers who you’ve never met, but feel like you’ve known your hole life by the time you shake hands on the 18th.

What was your introduction to golf?
My dad cut down an old Anser when I was 3 and started taking me out to riding with him in the cart, letting me putt. He was a complete golf nut, and I absorbed his passion for the game by osmosis I guess. My birthday present at 9 was my first set of clubs and going out that afternoon to a 9 hole track. I topped my first drive then nutted a driver off the deck down the pipe with my next swing (I have no idea how that happened) and was hooked for good.

When did you fall in love with golf?
When I realized it was the best way to spend time with my dad.

Did you ever work at a golf course?
No, but not by choice. I applied to every course within 25 miles of my house every summer, but it was a tough gig to get.

Did you watch a lot of golf growing up? Who were your favorite and least favorite players growing up?
Growing up in Orlando, I grew up going to Bay Hill all week every year because it was during our spring break. Didn’t have much interest in watching it on tv, but Tiger and that generation of players changed all of that. My favorite players were DL3, Couples, and Justin Leonard. Tiger deserves his own category. I never liked Sergio or Norman.

Highest moment in golf?
Walking onto the grounds at Augusta for the first, and only, time. Walking out of the old merchandise tent by the clubhouse and seeing the entire course out in front of me was so surreal.

Lowest Moment in golf?
We had a really stacked high school team and didn’t make it in either of my first two years, despite being about a 10 handicap at the time. I was right on the cut line to make the team in my sophomore year and, on the second to the last hole, I hit a 5 footer right in the back of the hole. The bottom of the cup was off-center and it hit the little metal rim in the back of the cup (way below the lip), and bounced out. I missed the team by one and was completely crushed.


#15

Why do you love golf?
The reasons have changed a bunch as I’ve gotten older. I think I love golf now because of the challenge, and the never ending process of self-improvement. I love the people I’ve met, the competition (when I was playing competitively), going for a nice walk outside, and countless other aspects of the game, but now it’s really the game itself. It’s hard to replicate thrill you get when pulling off a shot exactly how you imagined it in other venues.

What was your introduction to golf?
My dad would occasionally take me to the local driving range and putt-putt complex when I was 4 or 5 years old. We’d play putt-putt then hit balls on the range (they had a bin of junior clubs they let kids use). My parents ended up getting me a set of junior clubs for Christmas soon after that. I think I got a bike for Christmas that year, so it was a really good haul. They took me out to the local par-3 course a few times the following spring, and I was hooked. Looking back, I’m kind of surprised I started so young, and played so much as a kid. My parents aren’t big golfers. They never belonged to a club. My dad has never played more than once or twice a month. My mom has ever played more than 5 times in a year. My paternal grandpa, who I never met, played a ton so maybe that’s where the bug came from.

When did you fall in love with golf?
I’ve fallen in and out of love with the game throughout my childhood. I loved laps at the local par-3 course ($7 round with a $1 replay rate) when I was 6-10 years old. I went from needing a driver on every hole, and now wouldn’t take more than four clubs. I think the most I played was 5 times in one day. I’ve probably played it over 100 times, and still have all the holes/yardages memorized. I loved being independent, feeling older than I was, and meeting people I’d have never met otherwise. As I got a bit older, I played all the time at a pretty great semi-private course. The pro there ran an awesome junior program that’s produced loads of college players, and the course offered a cheap junior membership in conjunction with it. There were summer days where I’d get dropped off at the course in the morning, play 18 or 36 holes, eat lunch, hit balls, play a couple loops of their 3-hole par 3 course, putt/chip, go to the junior class, eat dinner, then play a twilight nine. Those days were fantastic. Because of the junior program, there were always other players my age around the course to play with, and we’d often end up playing in the same groups at local junior tournaments. We’d sometimes play super low stakes money games, and feel much older than we were. I fell out of love a bit in high school playing the junior circuit and high tournaments. I was a bit immature, got angry often, and basically stopped playing golf after my sophomore year of high school when I felt totally burned out. I’d still play a bit with my family, but I went from frequently playing at least three times a day to maybe playing three times a year my last couple years in high school.
In college, playing with friends reignited my love for the sport. Notre Dame has two courses on campus that are super cheap for students. One is a 9 holer (it used to be 18 but half was built over as the school needed more dorms/academic buildings) that cost less than $10 with a $1 replay rate. It was usually wide open in the morning, and as long as we weren’t out too late the night before, a friend and me could play a quick nine before our 10:30 classes. The other course is an awesome Coore & Crenshaw design that’s hosting the US Senior Open next summer, and the greens fee was less than $25 for students. We didn’t play there as much, but it felt like a treat when we got over there. We’d also play a scramble tournament with six or so foursomes at the beginning and end of the school year while sneaking beers onto the South Bend munis. When I finished college, I didn’t know many people in the new city I moved to. Golf helped me make friends there. Since then, I think I’ve reached that @djpie “surf-like golfing state.” Although I still love playing with friends, most of my rounds now are solo, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually written down scores on a card (but I still can remember every shot from my last round). I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed the actual game more.

Did you ever work at a golf course?
I caddied for a couple summers when I was 13/14 years old. The club didn’t have much of an established caddie program/culture, so there were a few weekends where I’d be the only caddie there and still not get a loop. The Monday playing privileges were worth it though. The lack of regular loops, especially during the week, led to me working at a grocery store as regular summer job in high school instead of sticking with caddying. Looking back, I wish I stayed with it another year, and then tried to move to being a cart boy or something similar when I was old enough. Hopefully the caddie experience will come in handy when I caddie in a Symetra Tour event next weekend.

Did you watch a lot of golf growing up? Who were your favorite and least favorite players growing up?
I watched most of the majors, and would occasionally flip on Sunday of normal tour events. I started as a big Tiger fan, then moved to Phil (and consequently rooted against Tiger) around the time Phil won his first Masters, came back around to Tiger in the next couple years, and like them both a lot now. Being from KC, I’m also a huge Tom Watson fan even though he was on the Senior Tour most of my life. I got a ball from him at a Senior Tour event, and would sometimes see him eating at the local Mexican restaurant (pro golfers, they’re just like us!). I remember being completely in the dumps for the entirety of my grocery store shift the same day he lost that Open Championship.

Highest moment in golf?
I won a couple KC junior tournaments which are probably the highest “on-course” moments. I also qualified for a few big national junior tournaments, and had a national ranking (I have no memory of what the number was). My favorite golfing moment, however, is probably a trip to Australia last January. I played a bunch of the Sandbelt clubs (still waiting on the launch of Tourist Sauce so I can relive them) over the course of a week. Despite not playing very well while I was there, I had a blast. The GCA stuff here and from The Fried Egg helped me enjoy some of these courses a bit more.

Lowest moment in golf?
Probably ejecting from my competitive “career.” I was pretty burned out by the end of my sophomore year, basically stopped playing, and decided to run track in the spring instead of playing golf (I already ran XC in the fall). I don’t think there was a single moment that led to it, but I realized I wasn’t having fun playing competitive golf anymore. Outside of occasional rounds with family/friends, I completely stopped playing. I was a bit of a hot head back then, and wish I had the mental state back then that I have now.


#16

Haha #5 was the course we played in the 1st round as well and is the one I first broke 70 on in competition. Got different feelings for that track than you do (though it really isn’t a great layout).


#17

Why do you love golf:
I love golf because it makes me feel like a kid again. I still get the same level of excitedness the night before a well planned foursome or big money game that I got as a kid before playing baseball, basketball, and football games. I love tinkering with things in my swing and the satisfaction in results.

Introduction to golf:
My dad played every Sunday morning, and I always had clubs growing up. I never really played because it messed my baseball swing up something awful. Tiger’s Masters mauling in 97 is one of my earliest sports memories.

When did I fall in love with golf:
Freshman year of college. I played other sports in high school, and college was the first time I started to pursue golf to satisfy my competitive appetite. Baseball was my dominant sport, and the mental parallels are very strong. I enjoyed the constant imperfections.

I also fell in love with golf because it strengthened the bond with my dad. It’s a great way to spend time together, and it’s always a conversation piece.

Work at a golf course:
I worked at the university course of the SEC school I attended. Was a top end public course, and the carts had GPS. So I’d find the last groups out when I closed down and play 4-5 holes every night. Was decent spending cash and the free golf was worth it.

Watching golf/favorite players:
I always watched Sunday afternoons with my dad. Outside of Tiger I always really liked Kenny Perry. My dad is from KY and he was his favorite player.

Highest moment in golf:
Winning our flight in the Member-Guest. We were down 6 points (match play format. 1 hole won = 1 point.) We played the leaders for our last 9 hole match and blitzed them 7-2.

Lowest moment:
About 2 years into playing seriously in college, I flubbed a wedge shot and threw my wedge 100 yards into the water Rory style. Just embarrassing display of a temper tantrum.


#18

Thank you for the return of the TrapDraw and the questions @Randy @Tron. Also Tron, sorry, again, for the Twitter thing yesterday.


Well, I got a little carried away answering these… I just kept writing and writing. Sorry for the novel.

Why do you love golf?

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death." Browning

Honestly, I think I love golf a little too much; however, how can I not?

It’s a game, and it’s a sport.
It’s a pastime, and it’s a job.
It’s man-made, and it’s natural.
It’s art, and it’s math.
It’s architecture, and it’s science.
It’s a hike through the hills, and it’s a stroll along the beach.
It’s a joyful social gathering, and it’s a personal self-deprecating battle.

As Mr. Palmer said, “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”

This is why I, and so many people, love this game. It is this yin and yang that I mentally find fascinating, and spiritually am drawn to. Once it clicks, you’re hooked, and you forever find yourself swimming in the yin and yang cyclone. There are times that golf feels like an itch I can’t scratch. It’s an addiction.

Do I need an intervention? Maybe I do. It certainly won’t go away on its own. Through every low, I find myself back in its embrace; it feels like a hug of endearment, so warm and comforting, yet also a hug with the devil, my soul being sold off as it tries to choke me out. As you all know, enjoying golf in high school was not cool. It still isn’t in college. Yes, I got made fun of for it. Some of the nicer students would try to understand it, though. They’d ask me, “How do you love it? Isn’t it really boring?” Through all the negatives, my love never wavered. I knew what they didn’t. I gave up trying to explain the hundred ways someone could love golf after the first few times. Only twice have I ever successfully enlightened my friends. One friend was because I convinced her mom to take her to the range once. The other friend was by showing her clips of “slam-dunk” shots. Two vastly different ways to introduce people to the same game, idea, or drug.

There is no wrong answer to this question. You could randomly poll 10 golfers and get 10 different answers. When I see all the answers, I find myself agreeing with those answers, too. Essentially, what I’m trying to say is I can’t pick one specific or even a few reasons for loving golf. I love golf for all the reasons I could ever list off the top of my head and that’s why it’s “the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”

What was your introduction to golf?

My dad cut down a double-sided putter when I was 3, and I would putt around a lot. If we were ever on vacation or had the opportunity to some other time, I would ride in the cart with my dad while he played a round. I would run to the sprinkler heads to give him yardages, and then when he reached the green, I would putt the same putt he would.

My father raised me well. I wasn’t an annoying kid to the others in the group. I learned all the manners of golf at a young age: not walking in people lines, no talking while people are hitting, not standing behind or on the other side of the hole from someone who’s putting, how to tend the flagstick (which people get wrong more often than I’d ever thought possible), and how to rake a bunker correctly (WAY too many people get this wrong and it pisses me off. It might be my biggest golf pet peeve. You push the rake and the sand. You don’t pull. To do it correctly takes an extra 20 seconds).

Because it was a double-sided putter, I always lined up and putted from the left-hand side. No idea why. It was just what I was more comfortable with. I am right-handed; I do everything right-handed, except putt. The only other goofy thing about me is I’m left footed, which I know from playing many years of rec. soccer. I didn’t get more into the game and playing until I was about 8. Because I’m right-handed, my dad bought me an entire right-handed set. I felt uncomfortable putting on the right side so my father quickly bought me a left-handed putter. To this day, I still hit right and putt left. It’s fun to bet on how many holes it takes for a new playing partner to ask, "Weren’t you just hitting right-handed? And you are now putting left? It usually takes between 2-4 holes.

When did you fall in love with golf?

This is the hardest question for me to answer. It took me a long time to fall in love with the game wholly. In fact, I am not sure if the point I am most in love with the game has even come yet.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m not that great at golf. Putting is my only strength, most likely a result of doing it all my life. Swinging a club is a different story. You would think starting at an age of 8 I would have figured it out more than I did. I had a slice before my teen years, as most new/newish players do, but it was a controlled slice: a solid 225 yard drive that was aimed down the left tree line and would slice to the right-side of the fairway. The problem with my game at the time was the slice would make my irons come out low, so it was impossible for me to keep a ball on the green. Then you add my inexperienced short game around the greens and it was a lot of bogeys and doubles.

Come puberty, I gained the power, but I hadn’t worked the slice out yet. This had disastrous consequences. The controlled slice was no more. I could bomb it out there, but I lost complete control of how much it would slice. Aiming at the left trees, it might not cut enough and up left, or it could slice into the right trees. I remember one summer in 9th or 10th grade, I could swing 90-95% and hit a drive about 280-290 yards with the slice, but never find the fairway. As I’m sure you all would recommend, I backed down. Hitting it 80% or trying to hit three woods. The problem is hitting the ball 240 yards off the tee when you have so much more in the tank didn’t do much for the confidence. Also, hitting a 4 hybrid into a green compared to others my age hitting a 9 iron into put me at an extreme disadvantage. Some of my problems worked themselves out with time and practice, but I always felt two steps behind others my age. I’ll leave some stories about trying to make high school tryouts in the “lowest moments section.” As a result of competitively always being two steps behind, my true love for golf developed in a different sphere: golf course architecture. My love for GCA started when I was 9, a year into playing the full game. A new course was opening up in a resort location about 90-100 mins from home, and my parents bought property inside the resort to take advantage of the weather and golf. Who was the architect of this new course? It was the man who developed a lot of people’s love for the game: Mr. Arnold Palmer. I remember him playing 9 holes for its grand opening, meeting him, getting his signature, etc. That summer, I played the course a few times. After every round, I found my 9 year-old brain noticing that this place was different. The views are spectacular, but the holes play like junk. Yes, my love for GCA was ignited by Arnie, and it’s all because I hated his course. Thank you, Mr. Palmer. I was too young to understand why I disliked the course, but it was something that always on my mind. Over the next few years, it brewed inside me, but I never knew about the theories of GCA. This changed in 2009. I remember diving into why Bethpage Black was so respected before the US Open. I learned all the basics that year, then the major season in 2010 was when I fell in love. ANGC, Pebble, the Old Course, and Whistling Straits were all fascinating case studies. I also volunteered at the US Amateur in 2010. I’ve been a GCA nerd ever since. I have had the pleasure to play Pasatiempo, Pebble, the courses at Bandon, the Old Course, Carnoustie, North Berwick, Elie, and more as a result.

My love for GCA grew so strong that a few years ago, I decided to shoot for the stars. I went to college studying construction management to hopefully find myself in the golf course construction business. I quickly found out that working in or with the construction business is hell. I erased the dream from my mind. My love for GCA took a bit of a hit, but I’m still a GCA nerd. When I said “I am not sure if the point I am most in love with the game has even come yet,” I mean that my attention has turned toward the administration side of golf. I’m not going to give every detail, but I think my future is bright, and my love is growing again.

Did you ever work at a golf course?

Yes. My first job was caddying at Seattle Golf Club for one summer. I loved it, but it’s one of the only caddy programs near me. They didn’t pay great, and the worst part is there was a no tip policy. I did have one interesting experience caddying for the friend of one former Microsoft-ee, whom I shall not name (it’s not Bill Gates), with the billionaire in the group. I didn’t even realize it was him until I told my parents his first name that night.

I have also worked as a greenskeeper/turf care for about 6 summers at a Tom Doak course. The biggest perk was being able to play for free, including cart after a long day working in the summer sun, after 3pm Monday-Thursday.

Did you watch a lot of golf growing up? Who were your favorite and least favorite players growing up?

Arguably too much for my own good! The Golf Channel was on 24/7. My favorite player? It’s the same answer as most… Tiger! To go outside the box, I always rooted for Freddie Couples and as he faded, Ryan Moore and Kyle “KFS” Stanley. I have to support the local guys who had to fight against the weather and the odds from playing in this area. A WAY out of the box favorite was Luke Donald when he made it to #1 with Tiger out. His short game was incredible.

I never had a least favorite. This isn’t a cop-out. I have always admired a pro’s playing abilities, so I could never have a least favorite. DJ came close a couple years, then Bubba a couple years, even Bernhard Langer, but it’s because I didn’t understand them.

As of right now, Phil might be my favorite.

Highest moment in golf?

Picking one is too difficult. I have three moments where I had out of body experiences. One is defining “moment” as a single second. The other two are defining “moment” as a longer time period with an experience. The first was playing the Road Hole and the Home Hole at the Old Course. Some people say standing on the first tee in front of the R&A building is as good, but to be honest, I was more nervous than riding a high. On the Road Hole, I pulled my drive left. With the hole cut front left and the Road Bunker’s collection slope just to the left, I intentionally played short and right just on the front fringe. I proceeded to two-putt from 30 or 40ft over the false front. After realizing I made par on the Road Hole, I was buzzing. That buzz grew to a high as I was playing the Home Hole. Hitting the wedge into the middle of the green with a couple dozen spectators behind the green clapping was surreal.

The next was a couple days later playing Elie. The 10th hole is a short 4 where you hit up to the the fairway, but starting at about 220 yards, it slopes way down to the green sitting on the ocean about 70 yards on the other side. The wind was strong, about 2 clubs and gusting to 3 clubs, and was into and from the right. I teed the ball low to drive it through the wind. It never got higher than 25 ft off the ground. Unfortunately, it landed into the face of the hill, popped up, and stopped 2 paces short of the top of the hill. My dad hit his over the hill, but it stopped just in the left rough halfway down the hill.

75 yards away. Sitting way above the green with an into right to left wind. Tight turf. No way a wedge would work. I wasn’t comfortable getting anything up in the air. My club of choice? Putter. Yes, I putted from 75 yards away. When my dad saw what I was doing, he pulled out the phone to record. We still have the video years later. I gave it a mighty whack, and it got some air off the top of the hill. It rolled and rolled down the tight turf until, about 20 seconds later, it stopped on the front middle of the green. As my dad hit, I stood at the top of the hill and stared at the ball, the flagstick bending 20 feet to the right, the whitecaps behind, and the storm brewing offshore. Like the Home Hole experience, it was surreal. I think I even said, “This is too good. This is too real,” to myself.

My last highest moment in golf is the hole-in-one I made a few summers later in Michigan. I was playing awful. I think I turned in +11. I made a double on 10 after hitting a wedge over the back of the green on a par 5 and was dead. Nothing was going right. 11 is a 170 yard par 3. Hit a smooth 7 iron, and I absolutely pured it. It flew directly in line with the stick, landed a yard short, hit the center of the stick, and fell in. My playing partner went running around screaming and I stood there in shock. The one second after it went in felt like 10. I eventually raised my hands, dropped the club, and shook my head in disbelief. That one second of shock was the ultimate high.

Lowest Moment in golf?

I mentioned in the “fall in love with golf” section that I have always been two steps behind on a competitive level. These low moments hurt the most because it was the closest I was to reaching that level. It was golf tryouts before my junior year of high school. I was working the turf care job I mentioned in the “work at a golf course section” so I was able to get a lot of practice in after work on the weekdays. My confidence level was at an all-time high. A couple weeks before tryouts, I was playing a round with my mom and dad. I remember the day so vividly. It was a Saturday, and on the 12th hole, the skin on my back and chest felt like it was burning. I didn’t understand because it was under the shirt. It was a hot August day, so my parents thought maybe it was a heat rash, which is weird because I’ve never had the problem before. On the 13th hole, the pain became unbearable. It felt like my shirt was on fire and melting my skin. It was this horrible mix of a feeling of burning, boiling, and itching that it was almost like my brain was screaming to just tear my skin off.

My mom drove me in and back home. When I took my shirt off, there was this almost perfect rectangle of blisters the stretched from spine, under my armpit, and stopped at my sternum. I took a cold shower with my mom thinking maybe it was an allergic reaction to detergent or something, but the way it was in a specified area didn’t make sense. My mom called some doctor or clinic while I was in the shower, and by the time I was out, she told me what I had. I was in my mid-teens and I was having my shingles outbreak already. The first few days of the outbreak, you are contagious to people who haven’t had chicken pox, so I had to go into a sort of quarantine at home. The only time I left was a doctor’s visit on Monday that confirmed the phone call.

I sat inside for a week knowing tryouts was the next week. The worst part about Shingles is the contagious phase leaves after a few days, but the pain and discomfort of the blisters lasts 2-4 weeks. I tried swinging a club the week before tryouts, but every time I took the club back, there was enough discomfort to screw up my swing. I remember handing the coach a doctor’s note explaining that I just had Shingles and that I wasn’t contagious anymore. Tryouts started, and the rust of not playing any golf for the two weeks before and the slight discomfort trying to swing showed. I wasn’t even close to qualifying for the team. It really put a shot in my confidence levels. It was, honestly, an embarrassing experience how bad I played those three rounds. It almost drove me from the game I was so disgusted.

I didn’t pick up clubs again until the following summer with this sliver of hope that I might make the team for my senior year. I did not hit it well. I was lost for a lot of the summer. A month before tryouts, I talked the club pro to give me pointers. Over the next couple weeks, it was rounding back into shape. Unfortunately, it was too late. When I showed up at tryouts, I was stuck between two swings. I didn’t play as bad after the Shingles incident, but I was missing it left and right. I was hitting and hoping in a way. I played decently enough that on the final day, I believe that if I parred the last two holes, I think I may have had a chance.

On 17, I aimed down the left to play a cut and ended up pulling it into a pine tree on a hill. It dropped straight down and landed a foot or two from the trunk in the pine straw on the side of the hill. Normally, I would take my left-handed putter and take a whack (having clubs on both sides of the ball has its advantages!) but there was a thick branch that made this option impossible. I attempted to take a stance right handed with my ass and back against the trunk, but my right foot slipped on a root and moved some pine straw behind the ball. I watched in horror as the ball rolled along the top of the pine straw down the hill. It rolled 8-10 yards back toward the tee. You couldn’t miss this white ball slowly rolling down this hill. My playing partners watched the ball go. I took the penalty for causing the ball to move, punched it back into the fairway because the tree was still in front of me, and I made a double or triple. This was the lowest of the low. Each step I took walking to the 18th tee and down 18 felt like I could vomit at any moment.

In the few years since, I think it’s indirectly affected my game. I have never played as well as in high school and the summer after it. I think it’s a lot mental. Now, playing golf is about meeting new people, having new experiences, watching professionals and amateurs play it for the competitive side, appreciate the architecture side far more than a person should and much much more.


#19

Yeah, we’re gonna need a bit more detail on “the Twitter thing”.


#20

Not a big deal. I responded to Tron about the “Just Keep Swimming” thing to add general commentary to the situation. He answered back thinking I was directing it at him. I responded that it was a misunderstanding on both sides.

I start drinking because the UW softball team ejects itself from the College World Series. A couple hours later, some dude responded to our brief conversation with “… Tron. Don’t pick on the slow kids.” In my drunken state, I thought he was calling me a slow kid. I wasn’t having it. I got in a twitter argument with him, but I forgot to unmention Tron until like half way through. I still feel bad for blowing up his mentions with a stupid, pointless Twitter fight.