My Best Shot Ever

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7 August 2016 (Pasadena, CA) It might catch the casual golfer odd that a blog post on someone’s best golf shot ever is a difficult task. Especially, when that golfer has played the game for over 40 years. Of the over tens of thousands of shots struck, how does one decide on the best ever? Well, here is a silly attempt to do so. I should begin by saying that I have never had a hole in one. NEVER. What the hell is that? Surely the golf gods would grant me this one prized possession for dedicating so much time, effort, attention and money to the game. I’ve come close. Thought I had one at Industry Hills a few years back only to discover my ball a few tantalizing inches away. Then there was the laser-like 5 iron to the elevated 9th green at Diamond Bar where the chaps who let us play on jumped in the air an hollered as my ball landed on the green. But again, a few tantalizing inches away and the acknowledgement of “you hit the pin!” And what about the divot six inches in front of the pin on number 3 at Crail and the ball directly 6 inches behind the pin? What act of Houdini kept the ball out of that hole? And really, would an ace qualify as my best shot ever anyway? What about the first drive at St. Andrews where literally hundreds watched me stripe my drive to the precipice of Swilken Burn? Talk about pressure. The 4 iron I hit to about 3 feet on 18 at Alhambra as my soon to be wife watched from the clubhouse? Or there was the eagle (my first and only) at Indian Hills where I holed out from 120 with a pitching wedge? That’s got to make the top-10, no? Well here is what I will call my best shot ever precisely because it happened in a tournament event. Every year the Southern California Golf Association holds regional qualifiers for the 2 day Net Amateur Championship held at my home course, Industry Hills. Approximately 400 players play at 8 qualifying sites for 50 spots. 2010 was my 3rd attempt to qualify for the Net Amateur Championship. I decided to play a course I had never played before, Oak Creek in Orange Co., CA. I chose Oak Creek because I had no luck in 2008 and 2009 at more familiar venues (Harding, Griffith Park and Rio Hondo). I also felt having buddies playing at the same venue and on occasion in the same flight was a distraction. It took some of my competitive edge away. No, this day I wanted fresh blood, unfamiliar opponents. The day started off well with birdies on 1 and 2 (when the hell does that ever happen?) on holes that I stroked on! Bam, just like that I am net 4 under and my playing partners begin with the sandbagger murmurs. I settled into the round knowing at the turn I was in the hunt. Interestingly, one of my playing partners was out of it early and became a real distraction on the course so his caddie spoke to him on my behalf. Real weird mojo when you are battling for one of those precious 5 final’s spot. The back 9 was solid but not spectacular. I was 9 over after 17 and my index was 12 (I handicapped at 14) so I was sitting a cool net -5 going to 18. I struck a nice drive down the middle wondering if my number was good enough and sitting 155 out to a very elevated green with the pin tucked behind a front green-side bunker. I was the second to the last group out so a crowd had gathered around the green watching the last groups come in. I did not know where I stood and they only knew that a guy named Sanchez was -5 hitting his second onto 18. No caddie, no course knowledge I decided to hit a 6 iron to the fat part of the green not risking going into the right-side bunker where the pin tantalizing waved at me. Hands shaking, I contacted a pure 6 iron right on line. The caddie of my distracted competitor said “looks good, everything feeds right.” I watched the ball soar and land on the green like the proverbial “butterfly with sore feet.” Because of the green’s elevation, my only shot indicator was the crowd behind the green and their reaction was great. Hands raised, oohs and aahs, and a nice applause let me know something good had happened. Under pressure, in a qualifying tournament, in front of a crowd, hit exactly on line, played intelligently, and a good result. I walked up to the green and saw I had a three foot birdie putt to close out the round. When I reached the green someone asked, “who’s Sanchez?” I smiled. With a tip of the hat and a “tap-in” birdie I glanced over at the board to see that my -6 was 5 better than anyone else that day. I qualified. I rehearse that shot every day in my head. Not the most spectacular, not an ace, not a hole-out but a well executed shot rendered under tournament conditions.

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