10 Under Par – The Time I Shot 62
It was Saturday, July 21st, 2012. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect setting to play a round of golf. I was on vacation in Park City, Utah. My dad had invited me to his home club to hit the links and participate in the “Men’s Game” that was taking place.
It was that 7:00 a.m. tee time on that special morning at Park Meadows Country Club where I would start my most memorable round of golf to date.
This blog is intended to describe that magical day to you. Consider this a trip down memory lane to the four-and-a-half hour period when it seemed I could do no wrong. Every shot and every putt seemed to come especially easy to me that day. If I only knew how to repeat those swings I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. I would be knee-deep in the warm Hawaiian ocean waters sipping an ice-cold Blue Moon.
Creating this blog is my best way to remember that day. I figured organizing my 18-hole round into an orderly fashion would make this blog read and flow smoothly. I want you to be able to feel like you were in my shoes, playing the round with me.
Any golf fans should get a kick out of hearing about my incredible experience, one where everything seemed to go my way.
The Leadup into the Round
Being that I drove to the course with my father, this early morning began just like the countless others we have had together when playing our favorite sport.
“Venti, no-foam latte, extra vanilla please!” These are the words my dad would say to the Starbucks clerk each and every morning. Now that he had fulfilled his sugar intake for the morning, we were off to the course.
My warm-up that day is a standard one for me nowadays. When I was a Division I golfer at San Diego State University, my pre-round warm-up routine was a little more structured, a little more deliberate.
By 2012, two years removed from being a collegiate athlete, I was lucky if I was able to stretch, let alone hit some golf balls before a round. Luckily, on this day, we had a solid 25 minutes to get loosened up for the day.
The crisp weather, warming up by the minute as the sun appeared to grow larger made the warm-up session that much better. I wasn’t at home, in the 110-degree Las Vegas heat going to work. I was in gorgeous Park City, Utah, about to play a round of golf with my dad and two other members. I was pretty stoked, to say the least.
Even better, there was a club-tournament going on that day where each player would play their own ball, keeping their own score. At the end of the round, all players’ scorecards were placed in a hat and mixed around. The Head Professional from the club would then draw four scorecards at a time, signifying each Team 1, Team 2, Team 3, and so forth.
Starting the Round
Because there were so many men competing in the tournament that morning, a “shotgun start” was implemented. A “shotgun start” in golf just means that the players all tee off simultaneously on different holes. Picture a man shooting a shotgun in the air, representing the start of a race. A shotgun start in golf has that same feel since everyone competing begins their round at the same time.
Rather than just starting on hole #1 and employing tee times that ensue one another, players begin their rounds on various holes throughout the course. Shotgun starts are great for tournaments because it means that each group will finish their round within a few minutes of one another.
I happened to be starting on the 18th hole that day. It just so happens that the 18th at Park Meadows Country Club is the most difficult hole on their entire track. But remember, we are on vacation, playing golf. Things could certainly have been worse.
The First Six Holes
Being that my first hole of the day was a long par four, the goal was just to hit the fairway. #18 at Park Meadows CC is no bargain, even for the better players. To my delight, I hit two great shots and made an easy opening par.
After another par, a 9-iron approach to eight-feet set up my first birdie of the day on my 3rd hole, the par-four 2nd. Two more pars and I was content being under par through my first five holes. Fortunately, my sixth hole of the day was the par five 5th hole. A long driver and a 3-wood got me onto the putting surface in two shots.
The stress-free two-putt birdie put me at -2 thru six holes. This start left more than satisfied, as I was still just happy to be out there playing golf on a perfect summer morning.
The Middle Six Holes
This is where I started to catch fire. If you read the title and did the math, you know I must play the final 12 holes in 8 under par- so here’s how it happened.
My seventh hole of the day was a short par four. A 4-iron off the tee and a well-placed pitching wedge left me six feet underneath the hole. I drained it, right in the heart. We were now three under par, all without holing a putt over eight-feet.
A near miss for birdie on the par three 7th hole landed me on the tee box of the par-five 8th hole, my ninth of the day. What was already a solid round was about to get a bit more exciting.
The 8th hole at Park Meadows CC is a long hole. However, the altitude of 7,500 feet above sea level in the Utah Mountains means the ball flies “a country mile” as you might say. After blistering a driver up the middle of the fairway, I was able to launch a 4-iron from some 240 yards out that trickled onto the front of the green.
Just like that and I was -5 thru 9 holes. Who would have known I was just heating up. Two pars and another birdie over the next three holes got me to six under thru 12. With two pars fives remaining in the last six holes, I knew I had a chance to post a special number.
The Final Six Holes
By this point of the round, I was feeling somewhat unconscious. Every time I swung the club and looked up, the ball seemed to be flying right at my target. Somehow, someway, I was able to maintain the momentum for the final stretch.
My 13th hole of the day was actually the only green in regulation I missed that day. After having a look at birdie the first 12 holes, this greenside bunker shot was the first pressure situation I had faced. I guess the 25-year old version of myself that day didn’t get the memo. I splashed the pitch from the sand trap and the ball bobbled across the surface and stopped 18 inches shy of the hole. I tapped in for my par and had some swag in my walk as I approached the next tee box.
My great par save carried over as I stuffed another wedge shot inside 6 feet. -7 thru 14 holes and I still had the two par dives left.
The par I made on the par 3, 14th hole would end up being the last par I made. What was already a fairy-tale round was about to get even more special.
A driver and a hybrid left me right in front of the par 5, 15th green, my 16th hole of the day. A nifty chip set up my 6th birdie of the day to go along with the eagle I had made. For the first time in my golfing career, I had reached eight under par during an 18-hole round of golf. To my surprise, I wasn’t finished.
The next hole was playing straight down-breeze and a booming tee shot left me just 95 yards to the pin tucked in the front left corner of the green. My lob wedge landed a foot from the hole, only to spin back to the front fringe. I kid you not, but I rolled in the 15-footer to get to -9 with one hole remaining.
I boomed one last tee ball out into the middle of the fairway. I remember standing over my second shot like it was yesterday.
I wasn’t thinking about how many under par I was, but instead, I looked up into the sky and took in the moment. I was fully aware of what I was accomplishing that day. I stared into the sun as long as I could, almost as if I was trying to savor the moment. Looking back, that’s exactly what I was doing.
A perfectly flush 7-iron from 202 yards at the 7,200-foot elevation course left me on the back of the green, just 35 feet from an eagle and a round of 61. I cozied my lag put up near the hole. I tapped in for a birdie. It was a round of 10 under par, 62.
I haven’t come close to matching that remarkable summer day on the golf course in July 2012. I have played well and have had my fair share of highlights. But nothing I have achieved in the game of golf compares to that enchanted day in Utah. I have had other rounds without making a bogey, and I have even made eight birdies in a round before. But eight birdies, an eagle, and no bogies? That was a one-time thing for yours truly.
It wasn’t as if I was holing luck shots or sinking 40-foot bombs. I just happened to hit the ball particularly solid that day, and things went my way. I hit the ball great off the tee and fortunately was left with many comfortable yardages for my approach shots. It was a lot of birdie putts from 6-12 feet that accounted for my amazing round.
If there was ever such a thing as a “boring 62”, my round was the epitome of that.
Now that I am older, I have a greater sense of appreciation for all things in life. Now that I don’t get to play competitive golf on a regular basis, I can look back and remember that day. No matter what happens from here on out, no matter how many poor rounds I play, that round can never be taken away from me.