Normally, this Sunday a professional golfer would achieve the ultimate milestone in golf – winning the Masters. Some might argue winning the Claret Jug is a bigger deal since that is the oldest Championship in golf, and you know, it’s easier to drink out of a jug than a jacket, but the prestige and reward that comes with winning the Masters puts it at the top of the list. I mean, every year, Mike Weir gets to have attend the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night with legends of the game like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Tom Watson and Danny Willet.
PS – During the Champions Dinner, do you think they just stick Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia at a folding table in the foyer of the clubhouse while the adults have dinner in the main dining room?
Since we can’t watch someone reach the pinnacle of professional golf, and no one reading this is ever going to be winning a Green Jacket, let’s discuss some slightly more achievable golf milestones. Fortunately, we spoke to our good friends at Golf Monthly UK and they put together a tidy list of 25 milestones for the every day golfer. Let’s see how we stack up:
- Break 100 – Check. Our best guess is this happened on a full 18 holes sometime after college. Certainly, we staked claimed to this earlier than that, but let’s be honest, rounds at TPC Southwick with 14 Natural Lights likely included a shall we say, morally ambiguous approach to the rule book.
- Join a club – Maybe the definition of milestone is different in the UK, but this seems like a better milestone for someone’s career earnings than their actual golf ability. Fortunately, we were smart enough to have a job that provided us access to a course, without those pesky initiation fees and monthly dues. Check.
- Get a handicap – Again, not a milestone of golf achievement, more a reflection on your level of obsession with the game. So, obviously, this is a yes for us.
- Finish round with the same ball you started with – This should be #1 on this list for the average golfer. Nothing better than not having to dig into the bag for another ball. You know you’ve become a real golf snob when you start changing out golf balls during a round because you don’t like the look of one, or you hit a bad shot and you’ve determined that it was definitely the ball’s fault. Check. (And check.)
- Make a par – Check. Honestly don’t remember the first time we made a par, but undoubtedly, it was by accident and everyone playing with us was appropriately shocked. One time, while playing in the Littlefield Derby, Scratch and WH were making a furious back nine comeback against Dr. Wang and Ty (who played to about a 45 index) only to become undone by an unlikely par from Ty. Just demoralizing.
- Break 90 – Realistically happened within the last decade, but we don’t remember the specific round. Again, the first time we said we did this, and the first time we actually did this while following the rules of golf would be two separate occasions. One of the first times I really remember doing this was playing the Harbor Course at Isle of Palms near Charleston, SC. Was a matinee round with our brother and shot an 85, with a triple bogey. Check.
- Get your handicap cut – club competition in the winnings – First time we played in a club competition, it was a two man member member tournament. Worst score you could record on a hole was a double bogey. Partner started off with two balls out of bounds. We got this, pads. Topped our tee ball about 45 yards. Needless to say, we didn’t finish in the money.
- Make a birdie – First birdie we remember happened on the par 5 6th hole at Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill. Hit our third shot within two feet and managed not to miss the putt. Check.
- Represent club in tournament – Uhh, no.
- Hit a par 5 green in two – Have done this on two different holes at Black Creek club – #6 and #14. Never made the eagle putt and have three putted for par more often than made birdie. Which is in no way depressing at all.
- Win a club competition – Our story from item #7 stands. No chance.
- Drive a par 4 green – While we have never achieved this, it does remind us of a great story. Once while playing Renaissance Golf Course in Charlotte, our group arrived on the tee at the short par 4 8th hole that was listed at around 305 yards. The group ahead of us was on the green, and given our foursomes lack of golf ability, we teed off. CBS had honors, and drilled his tee shot straight down the middle. We’re admiring this beautiful shot, and watch as it lands directly on the back of the head of someone on the green and ricochets about 20 yards to the right of the green. After a prolonged time lying on the ground, we’re pleased to report the young man recovered nicely, crushed a Miller Lite and went on his way. We also came to learn that the tee box was only about 250 yards from the green. Guess that’s what happens when the course your playing used to be a landfill.
- Play a round with no double bogeys or worse – Honestly, not sure. There is one round where I think this might have happened, but cannot remember. Plus, we were playing solo, so we probably cheated.
- Hit all the fairways in one round – No. Nor do we take the time to keep track of these things. Are there people who do this that aren’t paid to play golf??
- Break 80 – Twice. Once was the aforementioned solo round, the second was with a fellow golfer so it counts. Both recently rolled of the counting scores for our Handicap, and it subsequently shot up a few strokes. Let’s just say we don’t threaten to break 80 often.
- Play 9 holes in even par – The closest we ever game to this was at Eagle Glen National, located in beautiful Farwell, MI. Eagle Glen is home to the Littlefield Derby, which is similar to the Ryder Cup, but will slightly less media hoopla. Once in an emergency 9 practice round, we played the front in 1-over 37. Slight caveat – we were forced to skip the par 3 4th hole as there were a couple kids smoking and sitting on the green. After we finished 9 and had a 1 over scorecard going, we circled back and made par at the 4th.
- Handicap in single digits – Nope. Lowest we’ve been is around 11, never below 11 though. And with the two rounds in the 70s no longer counting, well, we’re a long way from single digits.
- Break 75 – During a heated Jeremy Reiter Cup at Hillandale National in Durham, NC, our opponent had claimed prior to the tournament that he’d “probably shoot 100.” He shot 75. Sandbagging SOB.
- Make an eagle – Our first eagle came on #17 at the Blue Course at the University of Michigan (one of our favorite courses, except when they park cars all over this Alister McKenzie gem). A shorter par 4, we had about 75 yards into the green for our second shot. There is small ridge in the front of the green that the flag was tucked behind, so we couldn’t see the bottom of the cup. So, it wasn’t until we reached the green that we saw the ball in the hole for an eagle 2.
- Break 70 – No chance.
- Bogey free round – No chance.
- Win club championship – Ok, this is getting annoying.
- Hit all 18 greens in regulation – Seriously, do you people have the PGA ShotLink or carry a trackman around with you when you play?
- Albatross – Uhh, no. But Louis Oosthuizen’s albatross on #2 at Augusta at the 2012 Masters is on the short list of greatest Masters shots that no one remembers. The top of my list is KJ Choi holing out on 11 with a five iron during the 2004 Final Round. There have only been 6 times in the history of the Masters that someone scored a 2 on 11. If we played #11, we’re considering it a par 6 and hoping to bogey.
- Hole in One – Sadly no. And we’ve never witnessed one either. However, my aunt has a hole in one on her resume, using a driver on a 100 yard hole and allegedly, the ball never went more than 5 feet off the ground. We only mention this because it used to drive my dad crazy, until last year when he finally made his first. On a 90 yard hole. But, we’re pretty sure he went with less than driver.
As we went through this list, we can’t help but think of some of the other achievements that perhaps are more common for your every day golfer. Some examples might hypothetically include:
Showing up 4 minutes before your tee time and still making par on the first hole
Showing up 4 minutes before your first tee time and whiffing your first tee shot
Vomiting as you walk up to first tee box
Running out of golf balls during your round
Getting to the green to see that someone has filled the hole with Milk Bones dog treats
Ordering a cheese dog at the turn and getting a bun filled with cheez whiz but no meat. (If you wanted the meat, you should have ordered the combo dog).
And in course you’re wondering, have we acheived these great golfing accomplishments. Check. Check. A couple checks. Check. Check. And check.