A couple of weekends ago, we attended my nephew’s wedding in Palm Springs, California. When you put those two components together, golf invariably enters the equation.
The South course at Indian Canyons Golf Resort in Palm Springs was the perfect fit for a destination-wedding golf outing. The course eases you in with eight gentle holes before introducing water hazards most of the way home from the ninth onward, allowing the travel weary to find a rhythm before bigger challenges.
The pending groom came home in the final group with a dozen of us standing around watching. What none of us knew at the time was that his last putt was for a 79 – his first sub-80 round after a few decades of playing golf. The best score of his life just two days before getting hitched at a dude ranch.
This brought a story full circle in our family. Almost 25 years ago, we had a small golf outing on the morning of my wedding. There were only seven of us that day at Meadowlands Golf Club south of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I played the front side with my brother, nephew and soon-to-be brother-in-law, and the back side with my father and the bride’s father and uncle.
There was no indication that this round would be anything special. I fell a couple over par early, took my shoes and socks off to save a par out of a shallow creek and headed to the 10th tee – my nemesis hole there – playing decently but nothing to write about a quarter century later.
What kind of trouble could I really get into with the father of the bride right there supporting my pleas to play on? To paraphrase the bishop in “Caddyshack,” the good wife would never disrupt the best game of my life.
Then came a few birdies, and I was sitting in the middle of the 15th fairway with a wedge in my hand at even par on the day and as much in command of my game as I’ve ever been. That’s when Rob Daniels, a college friend, colleague and our one-man gallery, walked up and said he was leaving to get ready for the wedding. My father strongly suggested I needed to leave as well or I might be late to the church in Reidsville.
Well, my dad would. He insisted we speed things up by having only me play the remaining 3½ holes. I cleaned up par on 15 and made another at 16, a par-5 I knew I needed to birdie to have any chance with the daunting 18th that I’d never reached in regulation looming. On the fairly easy par-3 17th, my dad also decided our trio in front needed to get out of my way as well and waved my brother off the green. That speed mode didn’t prove conducive to a quality swing, and my tee shot plunked in the front bunker and led to bogey.
Having never even parred the 440-yard par-4 18th, the chance for finally shooting par (much less breaking it) was lost. I quickly made my usual mess of it and wrote down double, finishing 3-over 75. I was 34 years old, and it was the lowest round of my life (a later 73 on a par-70 course will leave them likely tied in my final golf ledger).
We reached the church with nine minutes to spare … or as it’s called for the groom, “on time.” But there’s something to be said for my nephew’s wedding plan of getting the golf out of the way earlier in the week. He won’t get in trouble when he celebrates the anniversary of his greatest round every year on Facebook.
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