This past weekend was the annual Club Championship tournament at our home club. For anyone involved in a golf club, the Club Championship is usually the flagship event which players look forward to the most. They put on a great event at our club, and it’s about much more than just the golf. There are some fun gatherings after the rounds where people get together to enjoy drinks and delicious food, and is a wonderful opportunity to catch up with people you don’t always see on a regular basis.
My game heading into the event felt decent, despite dealing with tight/weak muscles and some Sciatica pain down my left leg for the past month. The severity has been off and on, and when I’ve felt good, I’ve played well. I planned on getting more treatment the Thursday before the three-day event and figured my time was better spent resting than practicing. When torrential rains and frigid temperatures (some areas of the city saw snow flying) moved in on Friday, it caused the first round to be cancelled and the event shortened to two rounds, which scored me an extra rest day.
I woke up on a frigid Saturday morning (about 5 degrees Celsius when I arrived at the course) excited to get started. Mentally, I felt a lot more calm and confident than I had starting out in last year’s championship, and I drew a great group to play with as well. I started my warm-up at the short game area, and hit a bunch of pitch and chip shots from tight lies with various wedges, and although I was shivering, I liked what I saw.
I headed to the range and went through the usual routine — starting with wedges and progressed through the bag. I hit my short irons decent but when I made my way into my long clubs, things weren’t quite so friendly. My leg felt tight and I seemed to lack power and couldn’t get the ball up in the air like I’m accustomed to. Growing up as a competitive hockey player and having endured and played through a lot of injuries such as concussions, bruised ribs, sprains, and a broken nose, my first instinct is always to play through it. I hoped that it was the cold temperatures and that things would loosen up as we went.
I hit a low, unintentional stinger off the 1st tee with my driver into the right bunker. I proceeded to hit the uphill bunker shot fat, then laid up on a side hill lie with the ball way below my feet. After hitting that one into a green-side bunker, I was a foot from hitting a perfect bunker shot, but left myself an equally tricky chip, which I hit perfectly. I proceeded to lip out the 3-footer to start the championship with a smooth 8 on the opening par-5.
Things never improved on the front 9, I struggled to get the club face solidly on the ball or generate the power I’m accustomed to, and it started to leak into all facets of my game as my leg felt progressively worse. To boot, every putt seemed to lip out. Even when I would stand over a putt or a chip, my left leg felt weak and unstable, at times even trembling at address, which was fairly distracting. I posted a 51 on the front. Yes, a 51, that’s not a typo.
I took an Ibuprofen after the 4th hole, and took another one on the 10th tee. I managed to push my flipped, crumpled rig over the finish line with a 39 on the back and signed the scorecard for a 90. The score was obviously not my best, but looking back I’m proud of myself for finishing and trying my best until the bitter end. It would have been a lot easier to cite my ailment and withdraw to avoid my score being posted for the whole club to see, but that’s not how I roll. It’s the Club Championship, and regardless of how I felt or what I was going to shoot, I wanted to play and be involved. It’s not like we have a full schedule of these events to look forward to, it’s the one and only for the whole season.
Things progressively got worse on Sunday. As I got into one of my first full swings during warm-up, I had a shooting pain go through my lower back, almost as if I had been electrocuted, and nearly fell to my knees. I went to the bench where Beth was sitting and watching me (she had a later tee time), and had her work on my lower back a bit. Although it hurt to address the ball, I made some light swings and it loosened up a tad. I gave serious consideration to withdrawing and caddying for Beth instead (from a cart), but I’m stubborn, so I popped another pill, grabbed a cart, and went off to play. I got my crumpled, flaming rig over the finish line again, and signed for an 87.
Although it was frustrating that the quality of my golf didn’t turn out how I envisioned, there was still a lot of fun had over the weekend. Beth played some solid golf and stayed in contention, and ended up winning the low-net award in the championship flight. It was fun to go out and watch her play some good golf after I was done my round. It’s only a matter of time before she wins a pile of these.
It’s disappointing that this post is more about injuries than it is about golf, but I’ve learned to never take any ache, pain, or injury lightly because you never know what it might turn into if not properly dealt with, or given the rest it needs.
What now? Get healthy. I won’t swing another club until my back and leg feel 100%. My body hasn’t felt consistently healthy for a solid month, so it’s time to sort it out once and for all. I’ll be getting some different forms of treatment this week that I haven’t tried yet, along with rest and a lot of stretching, so I hope that I will be able to tee it up soon. If I have to wait, so be it, but I’m optimistic I can get back on the golf course and finish the remainder of the season strong.