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Monday, October 7, 2013

Lucky Shots, Big Girls, & Little Girls

Here it is, Shanshan Feng's lucky 2nd shot on the par-5 18th hole at the Pine Valley Golf Club in Beijing, China that gave her an eagle and an upset victory over Stacy Lewis, and then set off that storm of sour grapes tweets this morning.

Shanshan wasn't the only lucky golfer yesterday.  Lefty did it too, sending his ball crashing into a tree and skipping across a pond, all from a grossly uneven lie.

Everybody who's ever picked up a golf club has had at least one lucky shot.  They're really not especially noteworthy, except that we all need evidence from time-to-time that the golf goddesses will and do intervene on our behalf.

My own favorite lucky shot came on the little par-4 14th hole at Star Fort.  It's a dogleg to the left.  There's a bunker strategically placed at the corner of the dogleg, and there's a stand of fairly tall pines between the tee boxes and the green, that is reachable for long hitters who can loft up over the trees.  I don't have that shot, so I play the hole as safely as possible.  I try to hit my drive to the right of the bunker, then send my 2nd shot toward the right side of the green.  My aiming point for my 2nd shot is a pair of oak trees behind the green.  That will keep me out of the left side bunker.  Some times I can make the green in regulation and some times I can't  It all depends on my drive.  But I generally manage to stay below the hole on the front of the green.

One day I hit my 2nd shot exactly right, one of those completely pure golf shots that leaves me utterly blissful for the next 30 minutes.  I was playing with Barb and Alma.  They both missed the green on their 2nd shot, which is unusual for them.  They're much more skilled than I.  I was certain my ball was on the green, but when we got there, nobody could see my ball.  We looked everywhere -- the back of the green, in the rough, both bunkers, outside the bunkers.  We'd all seen it heading for the green.  It didn't make any sense.  Then, I walked past the cup, looked down, and there was my ball, in the cup.  I'd eagled the 14th hole!

I can't remember what Barb and Alma shot on that hole that day.  But it wasn't an eagle.  I do remember clearly how they reacted my my lucky eagle.  They smiled, gave me fist bumps, looked at their own balls a little ruefully, and gave me the honor of teeing off first on the 15th hole.

The real point of even writing about lucky shots is to give some thought to how we react to them, that aspect of the Game of Golf which separates the Big Girls from the Little Girls.  Big Girls watch their opponent's lucky shot with a rueful smile, a fist bump, and a little head shake.

Little Girls pout, stomp their little feet, bang their clubs into the ground, and complain about the course conditions, the wind, the noise -- all things that are completely beyond the control of the golfer.