Dream Golf Weekend: A Bandon Adventure

11/02/2011 2 comments


A little over a month ago, I sat shirtless on a doctor’s examining room table wondering if the rest of my 2011 golf season was over, with perhaps 2012 on the brink as well. My body was crumbling faster than Tiger’s knees and personal life combined. Early in September, during a casual round with my buddy Wego at Prairie Landing, I felt something pop in my right shoulder as I pulled the club back on the par 3 12th. I took it easy for a few weeks, figured I’d be fine and eventually agreed to go to Ballyneal for a long weekend with my friend Matt and 10 others at the end of September. I thought even if I couldn’t rotate my shoulder anywhere close to parallel, I’d still be able to slap it around at Ballyneal on those firm and fast conditions. How bad could it be?

The answer: really bad. I struggled to break 100 in seven rounds over four days. Matt had organized a bunch of entertaining individual and team events each round, and my presence in a foursome was the kiss of death. I finished dead last in the running points game, and second to last in the money. I even set a dubious course record by hitting a grand total of 0-of-14 fairways (on fairways averaging 70 yards wide).

Right before that trip, two great things happened to me. First, I found out that the Walking Golfing Society had named me their 2011 Walking (Wounded) Golfer of the Year. Also, I got invited to a two-day, fourball event at Old Macdonald, the newest course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. After I found out that Rob Rigg, the founder of the Walking Golfer Society (and president of True Linkswear shoes) had also been invited to the event at Bandon (and was to be my partner), we made plans to do our award ceremony/trophy hand-off at Bandon as well. It promised to be a dream golf weekend. Except for my mangled shoulder and what I thought could be a torn rotator cuff.

So the day after I got back from Ballyneal, for once I listened to wife’s advice, sucked it up and went to the orthopedian to get my shoulder checked out (I bet I’ve been to the doctor no more than three times in the last 15 years). He pushed, pulled, yanked and dragged my arms in various positions, some of which felt perfectly fine, others of which made my eyes water. His diagnosis was some inflammation of the rotator cuff ligament, with the potential of a slight tear. I stressed that I was a serious golfer and had one last big trip planned for the year. He gave me a cortisone shot and hoped that would be all I needed.

Days after the shot, I felt like a new man. I could do full arm circles without pain, practiced that deeply-flawed but too-late-to-teach-a-middle-aged-dog-new-tricks golf swing in the mirror and dreamed of winning the Bandon team event in a blaze of glory. Then I took my kids to the driving range one late Sunday afternoon and woke up the next morning painfully back at Square One. I spent most of the month of October in golf limbo, dragging along a bum shoulder that didn’t exactly hurt but just felt off, like it was attached to somebody else’s body. Still, even if it meant swinging the club with one arm followed by an extended trip on the disabled list, there was no way I was missing out on a trip to Bandon Dunes.

The first and only time I had been to Bandon was back in 2006. A lot had changed for me in those five years. I went from two kids to three. Seemingly overnight, I leaped from young buck to prematurely gray. At work, I had clawed my way from senior grunt to junior middle management. I went from public golfer to a private one (and maybe back to public again). And I migrated from a two-handicap with a 50/50 love-hate relationship with the game to near double-digits but loving nearly every minute of it (other than the 0-for-14 fairway bit...that did kinda suck.)

It would be hard to top 2006's motley crew of Jimbo, my father-in-law Ken and my buddy “80-grand motha*****” Charles, but this trip had promise with Rob, my good friend and bunkmate Ben (Air Force Captain by day/turfgrass student and golf course design wannabe by night), and Matt Payne and Dave Hensley (GM and Superintendent of Ballyneal, respectively) among the friendly faces in the event. Ben picked me up at the North Bend airport, and after an 11-hour door-to-door journey, we were on our way to the greatest golf resort on the planet.

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