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.