The spring of 2014 has not been kind to Mike Kavanaugh’s golf game. Mike, a commercial airline pilot who sports a low single digit handicap, has plenty of time to play his favorite game. He has been a member of the Braemar Men’s Club for years and competes in almost all intra-club events against other men’s clubs throughout the Twin Cities area. Mike is known as a grinder who never lets the game get the best of him.
As the spring of 2014 has progressed from a series of rain filled days to a more traditional Minnesota golf season, Mike has tried in vain to find his game. On a recent Friday, Mike was playing with his favorite golf partner, Paul Domholt, along with a twosome that they had been paired with by the starter. After another bogie on #13, Mike said to Paul, “I need to play one under from here on in just to break 80. I just don’t know where my game has gone!”
After a big drive on the par-5 fourteenth, Mike, wanting to make a birdie, decided to attempt a 5-wood over the large trees that guard the front of the green. A birdie, 4, then three straight pars would give big Mike some satisfaction after screwing up his round so far.
Mike took a few practice swings thinking tempo and keep it loose. He approached his ball and made the same swing he had just practiced. As the ball left his club it was immediately right of his intended line heading for the long grass on top of the hill about 30 yards to the right of the green. Faced with a green running away from him, Mike chooses his 60° wedge and took a big swing. Mike remembers, “When I hit it high and soft, I knew it was going to be a good shot. It landed softly on the edge of the green and just trickled slowly down the slope directly into the cup. Eagle, first one of the season.”
Paul and the other two playing partners high-fived big Mike and they proceeded to the fifteenth tee chattering about the eagle.
Eagle has the honor and Mike’s head was full of positive thoughts. “Maybe I am back!” he thought. Mike’s tee shot, on the long doglegged left par-4, started left and kept going left. Left of the sand bunker. Even left of the spruce trees that create a sure bogie on this hole. Mike was so far left he had a break in the pine trees and a reasonably clear shot at the green. “I had to walk back away from my ball to finally see the top of the pin and get a line to the hole. On my line I knew the left bunker was directly in my line. I looked at my SkyCaddie and it said 163 yards to the center of the green.”
After a few practice swings, thinking tempo and long and loose, Mike ripped that 7-iron directly on the line to the flag. Paul snorted, “That one could be pretty good!”
“Wow, nice shot,” cried one of the others.
As the group crested the hill and got a look at the green, no balls were visible. Mike thought his ball must have rolled across the green from the hairy lie in the rough. As Mike was looking in the rough, past the green, Paul peeked into the cup. “Hey Mike, you just holed another one!” Paul said with a big grin.
“Who would believe that – back to back eagles – and both holes my shots were off the world. I guess that is golf.”
The good news is that Mike did keep it together for the last three holes finishing with three pars. His round of 76, his lowest of the season gives him and all golfers a reason to view golf with an optimistic attitude as we proceed into the heart of the golf season.