It was a sunny but cool day in the Rockies. I was playing the pristine 18 hole layout at the Golden Golf Club in Golden, British Columbia. Golden is three hours west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is one of my favorite courses. Scenery and fresh air more than make up for any wayward golf shots. It is a wonderful place to experience golf. My golfing ability level is “recreational”, I play well enough to enjoy the game, but not well enough to challenge the pros. Usually I shoot scores in the mid-80s to low 90s. My game can best be described as “flashes of brilliance and moments of despair”. I have been playing since my late teens and am now over 50. Enjoyment of the game is now paramount in my golf goals. This particular day I was playing with two local men I met in the clubhouse. The weather was great for golf, not too cold or hot, with just a whisper of wind.
The tenth hole at Golden is a par 4 of 370 yards from the White tees and is uphill all the way from the tee box to the green. The slope of the fairway is more severe in the last 150 yards to the hole. It is relatively straight away with maybe a very slight dogleg right.
Hitting my driver off the tee, I sliced into a fairway bunker located 198 yards out on the right. The dreaded slice is one of my weaknesses, as it is for a lot of recreational golfers. Usually I manage to control it. Most of the time it manifests itself as a slight fade. This drive had to be classified as a moderate slice.
Approaching the hazard I saw that the ball was in the sand towards the front. The golf ball was sitting up on the white sand. As I scoped out the next shot I noticed the 150 yard marker was just ahead of the bunker. While I was waiting on my playing partners’ shots I walked to the marker and paced the yardage back to the ball. The distance was about 22 yards. This meant the total distance to the center of the green was 172 yards. The top part of the flagstick was visible, but not the green or the hole.
My club selection was a number 7 metal fairway wood out of the sand. Ideally this would have enough club loft to get out of the trap. Hopefully I would also be able to advance the ball. I stepped into the trap wriggled my feet around until my stance was solid in the loose sand. I decided to concentrate on the one golf tip that came to my mind – keep your eyes on the sand just behind the ball during the swing.
I felt comfortable in my stance, so I took a full swing. At once I realized I had made excellent contact with the ball. The feeling was very sweet as we golfers like to say. The ball streaked out of the sand on a mission. It had good height and was arching directly at the pin. Eyes glued to the flight of the ball, I realized I had hit the ball too well. Surely I thought it would end its flight beyond the target, likely in the rough.
Pessimistically, I approached the green and did not see the ball anywhere. Behind the green was an open area covered with long grass. This can be best described as thick, moderate rough. Balls tend to nestle down and become invisible in this type of golf course terrain. I started to look here right away but could not locate the ball.
Finally in disgust I gave up the search and sheepishly headed for the flagstick. I wanted help my partners by removing it so they could concentrate on their putts. As I pulled the pin, I looked down and there was my ball! My heart racing with excitement I reached down. Removing it from the hole, I examined it in detail. Sure enough it was my “Ultra 500”. I looked at them, they looked at me. Then my excitement could not be contained anymore. They rushed over to congratulate me as I let out a jubilant cry. I had scored a two on a par 4. This is known as an eagle (two strokes under par). To play this hole and score even a four (par) would be considered outstanding.
My golf day was made and I felt like I could do no wrong. Golf was an easy game or so I thought. The next hole was a short but difficult par 4. Confidence exuded from my psyche. With new found prowess the tension I usually felt when approaching the hole evaporated. I proceeded to take six strokes to complete this hole. A double-bogy! The golf gods had sent me a message and shocked me to reality.
In the final analysis, what did I care? I had scored an eagle. Very few recreational golfers ever achieve this feat, especially on a golf course of this level of difficulty. For one brief moment I was as good as Tiger Woods.