I have now had my "burning bush moment" in golf.
I best take heed.
For you heathens out there, the burning bush fable comes from Exodus, Old Testament.
Let me summarize:
The Egyptians are persecuting the Jews. A burning bush appears to Moses, with an image of Yahweh (God) inside, telling Moses to take his people out of Egypt to Canaan.
Moses, skeptical, basically says: "Yahweh? That's not really you. Come on!"
So Yahweh starts messing with Moses.
Yahweh then performs various demonstrative miracles in order to bolster Moses's credibility. Among other things, a staff was transmuted into a snake, Moses's hand was temporarily made to appear leprous, and water was transmuted into blood.
And then Czaban's driver was transmuted into a deformed, crooked, elm branch. His tears, transmuted into blood. His putting, leprous.
The Golf Gods' message: "get out!"
My foray into the 36-hole Virginia State Amateur Qualifier was short lived. I went 9 holes and gently bowed out, telling my playing partners that I was sorry but, "I do not belong out here today."
And I truly did not.
I did not make a single par. I hit a 6-iron OB on a 165 yard par-3 (it was 30 yards left). I hit my next drive on a short par-4 dead right, OB. I hit 2 other drives that were weak, weak, pop-ups, which ended up maybe 190 and on the edge of OB.
Yet I wasn't slowing down our group. I wasn't throwing tantrums. I wasn't too embarrassed to turn in my scorecard (it was looking like it would start with a "1").
I just didn't belong out there. I was the Salahis of amateur golf. An impostor.
And I applied for the event in good faith, with the requisite sub 5.3 handicap. A handicap, based on holdover rounds still in the "system" from last year's late summer/fall scores. (See my rant on the stupidity of the USGA index from Monday.)
A few of these rounds from last year, were played with just one other friend. Under perfect still blue September skies. On gentle, 6,300 yard home layouts with few hazards and no OB.
This, suffice to say, does not prepare one for tournament golf.
Someday, I will return to tournament golf. But I do not know when. It may be years. And I will need to start at a much lower level.
Hello, C-Flight at my local muni! (Not a joke, folks.)
I need to go back and "un-learn" the crummy, pressure vulnerable, flip-and-hope swing I have. A swing that I have, sadly, been grooving for years now.
This will not be pretty.
My golfing BFF Mike McGowan put it succinctly.
This won't cheer you up, but your golf swing is indeed weird. It's perfect at the top of the backswing, and perfect at the finish, but at impact it's funky. I'll bet you can make it look better at impact -- using your pro's (NAME REDACTED) drills -- but I don't know if it will immediately lead to better ball striking. Somehow, you have trained your body to hit good shots with hips square at impact. If you "fix" your hips, you have to figure out how you've been compensating -- and then fix that too. That secret compensation move might be harder to fix than the square hips.
I harken back to the wise counsel I received from PGA Teaching Pro (Name Redacted): "Mike, you're a 6 now, but you could be a scratch player with just a tweak or two. You crush that power fade almost every time, but you need to reshape your clubhead path to hit draws. All good players draw the ball."
That was 2004. I'm now a rising 17.0 Index with a two-way miss. Only dim-witted stubbornness has kept me from quitting this ridiculous game.
REACT: He's right. I have a "square-hip-flip" move that involves a lot of compensatory moves. They are like an array of complicated servos and pistons and springs in a Willy Wonka like machine.
Some of them, I am sure, are so imperceptible to my eye, or even a pro's eye, that it may take months (or years!) to discover.
So why tear apart this car engine and start over?
Well, what else do I have to do? I mean, really. This is my hobby.
I remember when I was a kid, and my uncle Tom Czaban in Schenectady, NY would drive a low-level stock car on dirt tracks on the weekend.
When my dad (his brother) would take us up to visit in the summer, I recall watching the hours and hours Uncle Tom and a cadre of adults would spend hovering around the spare garage that housed the red white and blue "Big Daddy #1" car.
So much of low level racing like this, depended upon getting the car sufficiently tuned up to run well, with adequate power. And once you did, you were one spin out, or wreck from having all that time wasted.
Yet, if you had the engine, and you were leading the race, there was nothing better.
And this is like my golf. My engine is crap. It simply won't run in any level of competitive "race" above a scramble.
I am not quitting golf. Just re-calibrating. Getting out of stupid tournaments for quite a while. When (or, rather if) I ever get into a proper position at impact, I can assure you I'll post it here.
In the meantime, I am done boring you with my golf game. As the policeman in front of the smoldering wreckage would say: "Go home people. Nothing to see here."