My Personal Par

By Michael FechterApril 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: Michael Fechter, orphan worker and humorist, has the best job in golf: he's paid to be the Ambassador of Fun for golf courses across America. His 'job' is to make the courses he represents across America more interesting, unique and fun. Enjoy his humorous series on getting back into the game as he struggles to get his game into the shape it was nearly 30 years ago when he won his only personal junior 'major,' the Al Esposito, on America's easiest muni with rounds of 71-71-75.
 
At the invitation of a fellow writer and friend, Bill Davis, a man both Ruthian in size and humor, I played my first full round of golf in at least three years recently at the Muni.
 
Despite this rather long layoff, i's not like I came into the round completely unprepared. Ive been watching quite a bit of golf on TV.
 
On this big day, my first round actually keeping score, I hit a few 50-yard pitches on the range and headed to the first tee with no practice chips or putts. Solid, solid prep work, Mr. Hogan.
 
As you might expect, I nearly pulled my drive on No. 1 O.B. and had to chip out. And then did the same thing on No. 3. But at least both balls were airborne.
 
And after that, I hit the ball about as well as one could expect for a guy playing mostly from a memory of nearly 30 years ago.
 
And now, for the reality of the round. I shot an 82. A horrific 82.
 
OK, OK, 82 isnt technically horrible. To most weekend golfers, its pretty good. But, in my golf psyche, Im 17, Im nearly a scratch golfer and the Muni is a baked-out hardpan of a golf course where even I could hit it 220.
 
Clearly, my golf psyche needs 50 CCs of reality. I am now 45. It would appear that I am, at best, a low double-digit handicapper. (The 82 could easily have been an 87.)
 
The Muni these days has distance-robbing grass fairways, water in the irrigation ponds and, get this, sand in its hazards. It may have the same address, but its not the same course where I shot 1-over for 54 holes. And, Im definitely not the same kid from all those years ago.
 
Its not like I can blame penalties for my 82. This was a genuine 82 with no lost balls, no gimmes and no birdies. Five greens hit, 8 of 14 fairways, 30 putts.
 
My golf psyche insists that 82 is horrible. Eighty-two is an embarrassment. Eighty-two is to quality golf what my post-college white boy stand-up comedy was to Dave Chappelle. Eighty-two is bland, pedestrian and not even worthy of note except that I had a rather good time.
 
In a five-hole stretch, my pal Bill had four pars, a bogey and a cheese-eating grin. I couldnt have been happier for him. Seriously, Bill being plus-1 for five holes is the statistical equivalent of my being 6 under for five holes while getting a hamstring massage from Heidi Klum. It's Power Ball unlikely.
 
Unfortunately, in the other 13 holes, Bill had a sextuple-bogey, one quint, one quad, three triples, three doubles and four bogeys. For those unfamiliar with advanced calculus, that's 36 over for a 108. As I told Bill after he hit yet another frozen rope 260 yards into the water on 13 (we were playing 15 at the time): 'You may as well enjoy them. With that swing, you're gonna hit a lot of great shots O.B.'
 
And we did enjoy them all. High-fives after all his pars and high-fives after each and every magnificent drive Bill bee-lined O.B. My hand is still sore from the plethora of high-fives.
 
Dead serious, in that five-hole span, some of Bills shots were so fantastic that I cannot imagine ever hitting them. Bill hit a 5-wood from 240 off a bare lie to an elevated green of a par-5 pin to 12 feet. So what if he lost two balls before that 5-wood and scored a triple-bogey for the hole? That shot was worthy of being hit by Tiger on a Sunday at Augusta.
 
But, enough about my friend. The real reason I was on the course was to get a baseline score so I could see just how much I needed to improve to get my game back to what it was when I won the Al Esposito Junior tournament those many years ago.
 
Mostly, I played short that day even though I was trying to hit it long, which while frustrating to me, was infuriating to Captain Moody, Bills acquaintance and our playing partner for the round.
 
It seems that Captain Moodys attitude toward the game was poisoned by one very good round of 76 at the very same Muni several years ago. OK, it was a great round for him, but this is the Muni were talking about, not Oakmont ' a point totally lost on Captain Moody.
 
Bill summed up the problem while he and I were collecting poison ivy specimens while searching for Bills three balls that he launched deep into the woods on 8.
 
If he would only accept that he shoots in the mid-80s, Bill said of our third wheel, hed enjoy the game. But, there were no high-fives during Captain Moodys 87 that day. There were, however, thrown clubs, a near-endless string of invectives and baseless accusations of cheating that would embarrass even a divorce court lawyer. Fortunately, Ive been happily divorced for many, many years, so I knew how to handle Captain Moodys accusatory words.
 
Let me set the scene...
 
As we strolled into the clubhouse taking great pleasure in Bills back nine of 50, and my brave backside of 39 after a fat 43 on the front, Captain Moody stopped dead in his tracks, while looking at the scorecard and said to me, 'Thirty-nine? Didn't you hit it OB left on No. 13?'
 
'No, I said, I was in by 15 yards in casual water just off the fairway.' He seemed skeptical, but Bill backed me up. (In truth, I took a bad drop into a bad lie in more casual water and hit it anyway...and poorly.)
 
So, not only did I have to accept that I was, at best 10 strokes off my form from the summer of The Al, I got grilled over it like I was claiming to have beaten Al Geiberger when he shot 59 at Memphis 30 years ago.
 
And, oh yeah, not that I am defensive about 82, which sucks, but the reason Captain Moody didn't know if my ball was in or out was because on that same hole, he pumped his drive O.B. on the right and wasn't within 75 yards of my ball. Don't get me wrong, I gather Captain Moody is a great guy off the course -- just like Saddam Hussein would have been a pleasure if you bumped into him at a bakery...and you weren't a Kurd.
 
So, 82 is what I and Dr. Joe Parent, a golf/sports psychologist, will call my 'personal par' from here on in. Average golfers shouldn't judge themselves by a par of 72. Figure out what you normally shoot and that's your personal par.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed my round with Bill, whose 108 was easily 45 shots his personal par. And at no point did I think about money, taxes, child custody, Orphans or editing the miles of raw film that sit on my desk.
 
In my year long quest to rediscover the kid who shot 71-71-75 at The Al, Im just out of the blocks. But, thanks to the negative example of Captain Moody, from here out, if I shoot 80, I won't be miserable because I once shot 71. Eighty is 2 under my personal par and I want to stay 180 degrees happier than Captain Moody.
 
Tom Werner contributed to this column.
 
Email your thoughts to Michael Fecheter
 
Related Links:
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  • Greenway Golf
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    Rose's Saturday 64 matches Carnoustie Open record

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 1:03 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose needed to sink a 14-foot putt on the final hole Friday just to make the cut on the number at The Open.

    Freewheeling when he came to the course Saturday, Rose tied the lowest score ever recorded in an Open at Carnoustie.

    Entering the weekend nine shots off the lead, the world No. 3 carded a bogey-free, 7-under 64 to at least make things interesting. It won’t be known for several hours how many shots Rose will be behind, but his back-nine 30 gives him an opportunity, if the wind blows 25 mph Sunday as forecast, to challenge the leaders.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    After all, Paul Lawrie was 10 shots back entering the final round here in 1999.

    “I think the birdie on 18 last night freed me up, and I’m just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning,” said Rose, who is at 4-under 209. “So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. I had nothing to lose from that point of view.”

    Rose’s 64 matched Steve Stricker and Richard Green’s record score at Carnoustie (2007).

    It also was Rose’s career-low round in a major.

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 12:45 pm

    Tiger Woods, in search of his 15th career major championship title, started the weekend six off the lead at Carnoustie. We're tracking him in Round 3 of The Open.


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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 12:20 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

    4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch.


    Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

    8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

    1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.


    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

    Getty Images

    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 8:30 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)