Even before the first shot was struck, it was apparent that 2019 would be memorable and truly significant for me personally from a golf perspective. After spending close to 30 years at St. Catharines G&CC, I would be starting my first full year as a new member at the Walter Travis designed Lookout Point CC, one of the top 100 courses in the country.
If that wasn’t exciting enough, I would also be venturing back to the home of golf, Scotland, for a second time in three years with a group of seven friends.
As usual, this will be a three-part series, starting today with “My Game”, perhaps the most boring piece for my readers but something I like to write for the sake of posterity. I’ll follow that up with posts about “The Courses” I was fortunate enough to visit in 2019 and finally, “Looking Ahead” to the 2020 golf season and the uncertainty that surrounds us all due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
I started 2019 with a 4.8 index and I was set for it to rise quite a bit early – Lookout Point may have a lower course rating and slope than my former home club but it does not play that way. In fact, I’d say Lookout plays at least a shot tougher than St. Catharines even if the rating slope says it should be the other way around.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks otherwise.
Anyway, true to form, my handicap quickly skyrocketed. By June 30th, my index had risen to a season-high 7.0 and my game was in shambles. Thankfully, things would improve somewhat as the season progressed and the trip to Scotland certainly helped in the rejuvenation. I’d play my best golf in September and October and I’d even card a memorable even par round of 72 in my last round of the year at Lookout, easily my lowest score in 2019. I’d end the year with a 5.3 index, good for a six handicap.
For the second consecutive year, I posted 68 scores this year but when you include two rounds in Scotland at courses without slopes/course ratings and numerous scramble or alternate shot rounds, I played somewhere in the vicinity of 75 times in 2019.
My first tournament of the year saw me head to Eagles Nest GC near Toronto with my friend Ryan, as we attempted to qualify for the 2019 Ontario Better Ball Championship. I wrote about the experience here, as we would combine to shoot 76 (+4) and finish 22nd out of the 40 teams in the event, obviously not good enough to make it through.
The most successful event for me this year was the opening day tournament at Lookout, where I teamed with Pat R. and Doug M. in the shamble format. We all played exceptionally well and would end up winning the tournament by three shots!
My most embarrassing event was unquestionably “The Brooke”, a one-day invitational that has been conducted by Lookout for decades and draws many of the top amateurs throughout Ontario.
Anything that could go wrong, went wrong that day. I made two quadruple bogeys and two triple bogeys on the front nine alone on my way to an unfathomable 53 (!!) strokes.
The gentleman taking scores after nine holes couldn’t even add it up properly after two attempts, thinking I shot a 57.
What do you even say in that situation? Haha!
Anyway, with thoughts of not breaking 100 in my head, I nutted up and finished with a 41 on the back for a 94, easily my worst score in at least 20 years and likely longer. I had very supportive playing partners that day but I’ll tell you it took me awhile to shake that round off.
With it being my first year at a new club, I played in almost all of the major club events, including the wonderful and incredibly-supported Men’s League on Thursday nights and the club’s Member-Guest tournament, where I once again partnered with my wife’s uncle Henry.
I missed out on the club championships due to the fact I was heading to Scotland later that week, electing to spend my few remaining days at home with my family instead.
I ended the year back at St. Catharines in order to defend the Turkey Two Ball Championship with partner Adam S. We’d start off like a house on fire in the final group of the day, making birdies on the 2nd and 3rd holes to lead right out of the gates. But ultimately, both Adam and I weren’t really on our game on this day and we’d finish tied for 7th out of the 20 teams in the event, notching a one over 73.
Our run has ended. And my run in that tournament is likely over too – I came up with the concept of the Turkey Two Ball as a means of having a cool, shoot-out type of event to close the season for members at the club. So, as a non-member now, I will likely step aside and trust that they will find someone suitable to take my spot.
While my game improved as the year went on, I still have a lot of work to do in order to get my game back to the levels I’ve been at in the past.
At this point, I’ll just take a few wins here and there in my money games against Bucky and Brett – they absolutely throttled me all year and I must have paid for at least ten Rose City Pizza parties for Bucky alone!
Needless to say, I have some things to work on for 2020!
2019 Year in Review Part Two – The Courses
2019 Year in Review Part Three – Looking Ahead