This past weekend was the Low Handicap Match Play tournament at the Calgary Golf and Country Club. The low 16 handicaps at the club get an invite to the event and I was pretty lucky to get in with a 4.9 index as a few players with lower handicaps were unable to play.
I was very excited when I got the call. Being the highest handicap in the field I went in without any expectations at all and looked at it purely as a great opportunity to push myself and play and learn from the best players at the club. Having said that, I was obviously still motivated to try and win.
The first round kicked off Friday afternoon and the winner of the first round went to the championship bracket, and the loser went to the consolation bracket, so we were all guaranteed two rounds.
Being the highest handicap, I had the pleasure of playing the lowest handicap in the event, Harold. He doesn’t actually enter his scores anymore but in discussions with other members at the club we estimated that he’s about a +2. Although he’s starting to get a bit older now and probably doesn’t hit it as far as he’d like, it’s pretty much unanimous that he still hits it the best out of anyone out there with his silky smooth swing.
He ended up winning the match after 14 holes, and I really didn’t play that bad. I lipped out a couple of short range birdie putts that would have changed the dynamics of the match a bit had I made them, but I was still in tough. We played in after 14 and he ended up shooting 69 without making many putts — pretty impressive. When I was only +1 through 5 holes and 3 down I knew I’d have to play out of my mind to win. To play with a guy like that is always going to be nothing but a positive experience. He even gave me some words of encouragement as we played in after the match and helped me tweak my driver a bit. He assured me that I hit it well and had a good swing, and if I keep working I will definitely get there. That meant a lot to me.
My second round opponent on the consolation side turned out to be Beth’s Dad, Gary. I was pretty excited about that and I think some other people were also intrigued by the match.
It turned out to be a fantastic match with both of us playing well. Including a couple of conceded putts from 3-4 feet I made 5 birdies on the day. I also gave away a couple of holes with doubles, but overall I played a pretty solid round of golf. Gary took the steadier route and played a textbook match play round, making one birdie and a slough of pars, which forced me to earn my wins on holes. Throughout the entire match nobody ever led by more than one.
We were all square going to 18 and for a moment it looked like neither one of us wanted to win. After good drives I lost my approach shot well left and he hit a solid shot to the green, about 25 feet away. I hit a decent chip from an awkward spot to just over 10 feet so he had a run at birdie for the win. He blows it at least 10 feet by.
I’m away and have a par putt to really put the pressure and turn the tables. I hit a great putt that does a 360 around the cup and just barely stays out.
Now he has his putt for par to win. He again blows it nearly 10 feet by. Now he has a tricky bogey putt just to force a playoff and avoid a 4 putt! Naturally, he pours it in, which I expected.
We both hit good tee shots on the playoff hole and after I came up short on my approach and hit a cute chip that came back to my feet, it was all but over with Gary about 15 feet for birdie. A great match which was a lot of fun. It was almost a shame that either one of us had to lose by that stage.
Despite going 0 for 2 in the tournament, it really gave my golf game a jolt of confidence and solidified the fact that with continued hard work to tighten up certain areas of my game and eliminate some of my silly mistakes, that I’ll be able to achieve my goals and play with anybody.
If you don’t learn from your mistakes and your losses, you’ll never learn much of anything.