Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Dad's One-Time Caddie Service

            I was at Spanish Bay working on my short game and I started talking to a father-son pair that had come to practice after their round.   They are on a trip of a lifetime, playing Pebble Beach tomorrow and I commented how nice it is that they can go on the trip together and enjoy golfing at that very special place.
            My father, while not the only parent responsible for my golf game and commitment to the game, was the first to bring me out to the course and instill a love for the game.  He died in a plane crash 7 years ago today. 
            We managed to play many special places together, including Pinehurst and PGA West.  There are many special memories I’ll have forever from those trips and many others, but there is really only one major Rules memory I’ll always carry.
            At U.S. Amateur qualifying in Arizona in 2002, the rare condition allowing caddies to use carts was in effect because the golf course was a brutal desert course that would have been nearly impossible to require caddies to walk.  This was the one time I had him as my caddie and through no fault of his, it was not the best of days.
            I started on the back nine and turned in many over par.  By the time we came to the par-3 6th hole (my 15th), my only goal was to avoid embarrassing myself any further.  The 6th hole was a downhill par-3 with a carry over some nasty desert. My ball had journeyed through the desert on the previous hole and I decided to put another ball into play and my dad tossed me another ball from my bag.
            When we arrived at the green it took a minute but we found my ball, which had embedded in the rough just short of the green.  Being an USGA qualifying tournament, the “One Ball Rule” was in effect, as well as the embedded ball through the green condition.  I lifted my ball from its pitch-mark and realized that I had not played the same kind of ball that I had been using.
            At that point in time, the Pro-V1 had just come out but the Professional 100 was still a prominent and effective golf ball.  I had just switched and was using Pro-V1’s with black numbers from the start of the round.  I did not realize, that I still had black numbered Professional 100’s in my bag.  When my dad had tossed me another golf ball, I had failed to notice the difference and had breached the “One Ball Rule.”  I consulted a Rules Official, half hoping to be disqualified at that point, at least I wouldn’t have to post the monster number that was about to be next to my name.  He gave me the correct ruling, I incurred a two-stroke penalty and was required to play the correct ball, either by replacing the correct type of ball immediately or prior to making a stroke from the next teeing ground.  I chipped onto the green and holed out for what became a 5. 
            The best thing about that round that I remember is after the double bogey I needed to par the last three holes to break 90.  And I did.  Despite the poor play it was a nice day on the golf course with my dad. 
The Arizona Golf Association did have mercy on me, as there was an 18-hole cut, so I didn’t need to suffer through a second round… 

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