Yes, it is true, I have indeed broken 80. Read on to find out how it happened and how I dealt with it…Have I been drunk since it happened? Sadly, or perhaps thankfully, no. Life carries on as usual even for superstar bloggers who have broken 80. And is this the end of the blog? I suspect not (I feel your relief even through the internet…anyone egotistical enough to declare that they will break 80 as publicly as I have will not give up the limelight of being an international superstar blogger). No, the blog will continue – though the focus may have to change somewhat. I can’t imagine that anyone will want to read a blog about “breaking 80 again” even if I was an writer of the caliber of Thomas Keneally (Author of Schindler’s Ark which became the movie Schindler’s List; more on this and how important this is to golf later).
Perhaps I will even become less self-obsessed (Yay, I hear you cry!). Perhaps I will focus more on the golf and less on the score. Maybe I will even start to write about things other than golf (is there anything else though?). In any case now that I am finally “a man” (so to speak) and understand completely how to break 80 I am thinking of writing a book detailing my sure fire, money back guaranteed, way to shoot in the 70s. I won’t be talking about swing planes, or equipment, or practice routines. These may be useful, that is not for me to say here. What I will give you is the actual confluence of events that is necessary for breaking 80 for the first time. Much like the sequence of happenings that result in the infamous Black Swan events of Economics the complex interrelation of tiny instances that must come together in order for someone like me to break 80 is a web of interrelationships more unfathomable than the connection between European Royal families. This really is the secret that nobody else will tell you..and you don’t even have to send me $5 in a stamped self-addressed envelope.
But before I tell you how to do it let me show you first what sub 80 looks like. And it is not as pretty as you think. 2 doubles, more bogeys than I thought would be possible on a sub 80 round, and a couple of round saving birdies…
And now here is the secret that THEY didn’t want you to know. Here are the guaranteed and necessary ingredients that have to come together in order to break 80 for the first time:
1) Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It is true. I have been searching for the perfect personal golf rhythm. Have tried Prince, Sting, Thompson Twins, Classical Music, the soundtrack from the Mission, you name it I have tried it. It turns out that, for me, it is Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Ba doom boom boom boom boom. It could have been worse…and this song does have Vincent Price narrating the best line in Pop since, well, his last narration on Alice Cooper’s Welcome to my Nightmare. Who wouldn’t want to play great golf to “And whosoever shall be found, Without the soul for…getting down”?
2) A new club that you never use, not even once. Bought a new club. A 5 Hybrid. I can’t miss with it. Laser locked and guaranteed to take to the sky no matter how bad the lie. It is the perfect 200 yard club. CANNOT MISS. I bought it to take the place of my 3 iron which I hated and the distance was one I was ALWAYS needing. And in this round I never was 200 yards from anything…
3) Play on a day that you cannot tell anyone about for any reason. I played on a Wednesday morning. It was early enough to START before work and it was in some way work related but it was still (eventually) DURING work hours. And, in my heart, I knew that I probably shouldn’t have been there. I felt like the Priest in that old joke who blew off his own parish, crying sick, on a SUNDAY to play golf and God punishes him with the best round of golf of his life…why? Because he can never tell anyone about it…that was the punishment.
4) Thomas Keneally. I met Thomas Keneally on the same day. He has written over 30 books including the great Aussie novel “The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith” which was on my reading list every year at school. And he wrote Schindler’s Ark…and that became Schindler’s List.
I studied literature AND Film at University. How important is this guy to me. If I had had to choose between meeting him or playing golf…I would have chosen meeting him. But luckily I could do both..and on the same day! And I knew ALL DAY that…
I was going to be having lunch with Thomas Keneally. And he didn’t disappoint. A great author, a great Australian, and a fantastic – and sufficiently irreverent – speaker. And all day I was playing golf I was thinking about how I was going to be meeting Thomas Keneally after golf. Not just that but I was thinking how soon I had to get back to town to make it down town in time for the lunch with Mr Keneally.
Guess it took the edge off a little.
5) Wear boring clothes. All year I have worn various combinations of truly funky clothes. Outfits designed to exude the kind of confidence that elicits the classic response “he has the confidence to dress as he likes”.
Diamonds, plaids, and stripes. Pinks, reds, and Blues. Miss-matched sleeves, bright coloured gloves,and greek fisherman’s caps. And on this day I wore black pants, a black top with long black sleeves, a black hat and shades. I looked like Gary Player with Skin Cancer. Or Lee Van Cleef from early Clint Eastwood movies if he had played golf. If I had put together the perfect outfit for breaking 80 this would not have been it. So of course it was on this day that it happened.
6) Play with my Friend Edward. On this day I played with a very good friend of mine, Nic, who, like a lot of my regular set of friends and golf buddies has been completely invested in my breaking 80. And I am glad that one of my regular close friends and golf buddies was there to witness the happening. Lord knows I have come close with many of them before. (I even had one friend, Rakesh, pull out a camera on the final hole in preparation to record the event after I landed on the green in two on a par five; needing only a two putt from 15 feet it seemed a sure thing until I stabbed a sloppy putt to ten feet and then missed the birdie putt by one inch to record ANOTHER 80).
But for some reason whenever I play with Edward – my Taiwanese “brother” – I always play well above myself. I even referenced him in my April 3rd post “Steve; the story of a 40-something golaholic” with the line “And I have noticed that I have one friend that I always shoot very low 80s with and have broken 40 over nine holes every time I have played with him…”
He is a great mate and even though I have only played with him three times each time I have played out of my socks. When I was a 20 handicapper I shot my first 39 over nine holes playing with him. When I was an 18 handicapper I shot my second ever sub 40 nine – again with him. He is my secret weapon and I kept him in reserve until this day! I am sure he would play with you too; for a fee!
So what is my next goal? Shoot 75? Shoot even par over one nine? Shoot a par round? I had thought that my next goal after breaking 80 would be to get to a single figure handicap but I have played consistently and for so long (it feels) around 80 that I am already, as of this week, a 9 handicapper. Wow. I honestly never thought it would be possible. I imagined breaking 80 would have been done in a vacuum of sorts; leaving me with my teen handicap safely in place. I hadn’t imagined that the effort of breaking 80 in and of itself would have left me under 10.
So what to do next? Hmm, let me at least enjoy the achievement of this goal for a little while before I let you know. But I can tell you, all my friends and anyone who knows me is very relieved that I have finally broken 80. Mainly relieved that I might finally stop talking about it…I will not be silenced, but at least now I might have a different topic…
…and, yes, I kept the ball. I had three shots left on the final hole and just missed a 3-foot putt for 77…but I didn’t care. That ball has earned a place in my personal history…