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On & Off the Course

June 26, 2006

On and Off the Course: What a difference a stroke makes

After almost every round of golf, whether we considered it good or bad, there’s a “what if?” scenario. “What if – I had made that putt on 15, instead of having it lip out!” or “What if I hadn’t left that first shot in the bunker?” Or maybe it’s on the positive side: You shot the round of your life with a 72, but “what if that ball hadn’t hit that tree branch and stayed in bounds? Or “what if my ball had gone into the pond, instead of skipping across it? Who knows how high I might have scored on that hole!”

“What if” is akin to “if only,” both being a desire to erase a past wrong, and get a do-over or a mulligan. They are the bane of a golfers existence, a perpetual nightmare that keeps coming back to haunt us. I’m sure Phil Mickelson went through a nightmarish night, thinking about his 18th hole at the U.S. Open, that if he had only bogeyed, he would have made a play off, and then possibly won, instead of tying for second. Jim Furyk also had a big “if only” weighing on his mind. “If Only” he had made that 3-foot putt on 18, he would have made it into a playoff.

Luckily for the Terre Haute South Boys golf team, it had some positive things happen that kept it in a tie for second in the state finals. The last coaches poll of the year had Floyd Central ranked No. 1, and South No. 2. It was surprising when South came in after the first day of play, shooting a 292 with their best 4 out of 5 scores and Floyd Central was 16 shots back with a 308, in a tie for seventh place. Teams who had shot 309 did not make the cut to play on the second day, (and if an individual shot even-par, it wasn’t good enough!) If somebody had missed a putt somewhere, Floyd Central would have been done. Instead, they made the most of having another day to play, shooting 286 on the second day to come from behind and win the state championship! The course was set up longer and tougher on the second day too, so they really played amazingly well.

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