Spyglass: My most memorable round of golf. What’s yours?

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Can you think of ONE day, or one round, or one golf memory that stands out among all the others?

I will be writing soon of my trip to Scotland in 2005 and the memories of that since the Open Championship is at Muirfield in 2013. But for me, for one day, I was in golf glory. Scotland was a week of glory and involved three close friends, so please note I’m not taking anything away from that experience.

In 2003, my wife attended a conference in San Francisco for a week. I went out a few days later and we took a few extra vacation days and worked our way down from San Francisco to Monterey. I was fortunate to score a 10am tee time as a single at Spyglass on November 1. As we drove down the coast, I was amazed at the beauty of the west coast, with the Pacific on my right and soaring mountains to my left. The anticipation of seeing Pebble Beach up close and playing Spyglass grew each mile we drove.

The morning fog broke as we turned towards the Pebble Beach Golf Resort and bright sun was reflected by the waves in the Monterey Bay. We arrived at Spyglass and my wife said, “Have a great time, see you in the afternoon” as she drove off to explore Carmel. I got directions from the bag drop attendant for the range and went exploring.

The range at Spyglass is fairly small, tucked up along the top part of the property. I was hitting wedges and looked to my left. Several mule deer were quietly grazing in the trees not 30′ from me. Not much wind. Temperatures close to 70 degrees. Chatting with my caddy Jim. I was expecting “nasty” and instead got glorious.

10am was approaching and I went over to the starter to meet the other 3 players in my group. Turns out all of us booked as “singles” to make up our foursome. All of us were from the Philadelphia, PA area. All three were attorneys. And no one knew anyone! So, off we went.

No blow by blow here, just what made it special.
*the quietness of Spyglass. It was hushed, like a whisper. Seductive, beautiful.
*the sound of seals barking in the distance
*the sounds of waves breaking. I love the ocean. I love playing golf along the ocean better.
*Spyglass is gorgeous. From the coastline up to the woods, the way the holes are framed.
*my caddy Jim. He’s a surfer and a looper. He loves both and said he does one or the other in the morning, then the afternoon. And he was the best caddy I’ve ever had.

Caddies are great. There is an intimacy in the relationship. Trust, communication, support and sometimes criticism. I learned very early to trust Jim, and quite glad I did.

I shook him off on #2 when I thought his read of a ten footer for par was crazy and went with my own thoughts. I missed badly, made bogey and Jim just smiled as we walked off the green and said, “These greens are subtle and can get tricky. Just trust my eyes, ok? I’ll get you around in good shape”. With that, we really got it going. Birdies at #4 and #6, a string of pars then another birdie at #13.

Jim picked me up after a terrible double bogey on the par 3 15th. As we walked to the 16th tee he just said, ” We’ve got a great round going. Shake that off and focus on your target. You’re swinging it well”. We made two good up & downs the next two holes and came to #18 at even par.

The sun was straight n our eyes as we looked up the slope of the fairway. He handed me driver and just told me to rip it up the right side with a draw, gave me a target of a tree in the distance and said, “Stoked to be seeing you play well.”

I did what he told me to do (like all good players will, right?) and we found my ball in the middle of the fairway, but in a sand-filled divot. Kind of like Payne Stuart at the U.S. Open…..

We had 158 yards uphill to a front hole location. He didn’t even say anything, just handed me a 7 iron and said, “You know what to do”. I hit a crisp little draw into a slight breeze. It sounded great and Jim felt it would be in good position on the green. Both of us lost the ball on the way down due to the sun.

Arriving at the green, Jim had a big smile on his face. My ball had settled two feet from the cup, hole high. He handed me my putter, looked at it once and said, “Back of the cup, firm”. And that’s what I did.

Jim got me around in -1 (71) from the Blue tee boxes at Spyglass. We had wonderful conversation all day. He kept me loose, yet focused. He was cracking me up with stories and history about the area. Telling me surfing stories, all the while clubbing me well and reading putts like the expert he was. Adding it up, I only hit 10 greens in regulation. I only hit 9/14 fairways, but was in play all day.

I had only 26 putts. That was all Jim. Yes, I had to make the strokes, but he had perfect lines and just knew my pace.

I don’t remember the names of the gentlemen I played with, nor do I recall one shot they hit. I know that we all got along well and they were nice to play with. But for that 4 1/2 hours, I was so dialed in, as was Jim, that it seemed like I had Spyglass to myself.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Rick

    One of my most memorable times golfing was on a small par three golf course in Nova Scotia. It was not a very good quality course, but was great for our foursome. I was playing golf with my wife, mother, and 10 year old daughter. We were on the tee of a 120 yard hole and my mother hit a hole-in-one! We were all excited. My daughter was next to hit and it was the shot of her life. The ball went straight for the hole, hit the pin and stopped 3 inches from a hole-in-one! It was awesome watching their reaction and to this day is one of my most favorite times on the golf course.

    Cheers
    Jim

    1. That’s so cool! Especially being with mom and daughter….cool how it passes down the family tree, huh?

      Thanks for sharing. Maybe we can get some more stories from others. I love listening to golf experiences.

  2. aaronrbruce says:

    While I have been to Scotland and Ireland to play, my most memorable golf experience was at a course not far from my house a couple years back. It is a private course that my friend had playing privileges at through his course. With a rating of 71.0 and a slope of 123 it wasn’t a super hard or super easy course, it had its challenges and had its scoring opportunities. Playing with my childhood best friend who I rarely see, I got around in 71, my first round ever under par, it was a great afternoon on the golf course. My friend shot 76, and considering we are both around 5 handicaps, that’s not a bad day as a twosome.

    1. Aaron, that’s a great story, and what I think is so good about the game, and experiences, we all share. It’s the connections, memories and joy we get from the different facets of the game, no? Nice round, too! Did you figure out what you guys shot on a gross Better Ball?

  3. Aaron, Great story! I hope to go to the UK and Scotland and play with my best friend in the fall. I hope I have the same success! We me shooting the 71 of course – I would never life it down!

    Cheers
    Jim

    1. Grateful, may I suggest Wilkinson Golf and Mr. Barry Hynd if you haven’t made your plans yet? Great guy in Barry and a great company. He was great in 2005 when I went.

      1. Rick

        Thanks for the tip.

        Cheers
        Jim

      2. If you choose Scotland, see if you can arrange 36 holes in one day at Muirfield. I highly recommend that. And the communal lunch buffet is fabulous, as is the clubhouse….the course….truly the best golf course I’ve ever played.

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