Verified Member
Jan 15, 2015
I had started golfing when I was a junior in high school but I wasn't any good. It was the first time I've ever had a set of clubs to use. I had bought a set off of a classmate (well my dad bought them for me, of course) who was shorter than me, and his clubs were cut down an inch. The were Rams, and they served under me for several years. Remember the first round I ever played I shot a 66 for nine holes on the front side of my high school course. Par was 34. Second round I ever played a shot 66 on the back side of the same course where par was 36. by the end of my junior year my best score was a 44, but I don't remember if it was at my high school course or different course. Unlike many courses that host high school teams, we were not allowed to play for free there. (I feel this is a mistake, because you are only in high school for a short time, but you have the rest of your life to be charged green fees.). It was for this reason that I didn't improve much my senior year, only shooting a low of 43, at a different course.

Finally, in college I had the opportunity to learn the game, while working at what used to be the local golf course. (It's now a hunting reserve.) I worked in the pro shop at the register and was the cart boy as well. I made a lot of acquaintances with regular customers, and starters (rangers). There were 9 starters: a different retired guy for each weekday, and two on each weekend day. Each starter got unlimited free golf. In return, each worker would bring their friends to the course as often as possible since it was free (for him, anyway).

There were two well attended skins games that I learned about on the weekends. One was in the morning, bright and early at 8am. The other started at 1pm. I remember my first swing in a skins game with the afternoon group, I whiffed with a driver on the first tee. I tried so hard but I was so nervous playing in a "serious" game, with old men who maybe were athletes maybe 40 years ago. I was an athlete, a year or two from being able to toma-hawk dunk a basketball standing tall at 5'9". It really bothered me how these old farts were leagues better than me. So much better than I didn't even know the full extent of it for a year or two.

My dad mowed the field next to our house, which ended up being large enough for me to hit a 7 iron, which was about 150 yards. We got a cheap flagstick to stick in the ground, but there was no cup. The way it was laid out, the tee faced east toward the target. I had classes at 8am, so I started getting up in the morning on weekdays to hit some balls while the sun came up. The trees would be perfectly still, as if I was in a painting. I became more appreciative of the beauty of nature and of the game of golf, because it placed you in wonderful settings that only millions of dollars could buy.

Two of the older guys in the morning group took me under their wing and started telling me a few things. I played hundreds of rounds with them in a span of a few years.

The better of my two mentors was nicknamed Fox, because of his short stature, slightly curled mustache whiskers, and thin face. He was maybe 120 pounds, and only could drive a ball about 220 yards, and his irons were virgin to the rough. He hit every fairway I played with him, and he raked any putt that was within 5 feet, unless it was for a birdie, or in a tournament. He regularly shot around par and was ho hum about shooting a few under. He had an unwavering demeanor.

My other mentor was nicknamed BB. He had a Mexican first and middle names (that I have never heard of before or since) which both started with the letter B. He was a very outgoing individual who greeted and smiled at and liked and knew everyone. Once I played with him when he shot a 32 on the back, which was tighter but shorter than the front side. Every week he would win a skin, and after collecting his money in the clubhouse he would loudly announce "For those who ain't got nothing...same time next week!"

The morning group played a $10 poverty skins game, with greenies on each par 3, of which there were 3. There were three par 5s as well, so par was 36 on each side. I donated $13 for a solid year or so, but kept improving, and usually played with the same group: Fox, BB, Hubba, Kong, and Coach were some of the nicknames in the group. There was about 40 different guys total, where around 16-20 would show up each week.

The afternoon group was different. It was comprised of a few starters, but mostly friends of the owner, and the maintenance crew, since they worked in the morning and didn't finish cutting greens until we already teed off. There were several former employees that were all a tightly knit bunch of friends who played college golf or friends of theirs. They played a smaller skins game, which was a $5 poverty skin, then a $5 per side two-man modified Stableford team game, which was semi-random draw, because they separated the better half of the group to serve as captains, just to keep it close. They also played a $5 rabbit. I played with this group out of love of the game, because they were a harder crowd, and a much tougher game. My first time playing in the group I was paired in the same cart with a total jerk who I will refer to as Rules, and he made sure I wouldn't want to play in the group for months. He succeeded.

I played every Saturday and Sunday in the morning group. After a while, if we finished before the afternoon group teed off, I would run back to the first tee and play another 18. I would play everyday after my last class, and some days before my first class. I probably averaged 36 holes per day. The assistant pro and I became such good friends during those 3 years I worked there during college, that when I got engaged right after college, I asked him to be my best man, after my best friend from high school informed me that he couldn't get back in town due to an Air Force commitment.

- - -

Once I was hanging out with some of the guys in the afternoon group while I was working during a rainy day. This was the day I would learn the card game called "Horsecock" (Or "Horse" if you're playing with a lady in the group), which eventually became and remains one of my favorite card games.

The rules of Horse:
They explained that it was a trump game where a card gets flipped up and it's suit is trump, similar to Euchre. There is a Folding round, where everyone can look at the 5 card hand dealt to them and can choose to stay in the hand or fold, this of course is done in the usual clockwise rotation. There is one exception, which is not everyone can fold. If everyone folds, the last person cannot, as a hand must be played. After the Folding round there is a Discard/Drawing round. You have to follow suit, and, if you can, you have to play a card that beats what has been played. Everyone starts with 20 points, and you deduct a point each time you take a trick. If you play and don't take at least one trick, you "get set", like in 500 bid, and you add 5 points to your total.

We were playing $1 per point, so when someone gets to zero, everyone pays him a dollar for each point they still have on the scoresheet. I was seated before Rules, as far as clockwise rotation is concerned. He drew the deal, dealt out 5 cards to everyone, then flipped the first card in the Kitty which turned up as an Ace of hearts, the highest trump card possible. Then he shouted "Wait a minute, I only have 4 cards!" He took the Ace of Hearts off the Kitty, put it in his hand, then flipped up the King of hearts, and the table erupted in laughter.


...And I had to stay in! (A hand had to be played and me and Rules were the last two players.) I picked up my cards and I had a 3 hearts but I still ended up getting set.

- - -

By the end of my first year I think my best round was a 74. By next summer, it seemed like I was shaving another stroke each month. The assistant pro told me to be patient. He said golf was such a mental game that you hardly ever shoot more than a single stroke better than your previous best score.

By August of that second year I shot a 71 with a two stroke penalty for hitting the wrong ball. My cart rider hit my ball and then I hit his, turned out we were both playing the same ball. What luck!

Then there was Labor Day. We had 31 people show up in the morning group. My friend Brew even came and he wanted to walk instead of ride. I was used to riding since it was free for me and I played faster, but I walked with him anyway. Brew played college golf and was used to carrying his bag all the time. Oh, and he was cheap. (He still owes me for a few $2 Nassaus from that year, lol.).

I decided on the first tee that I wasn't going to swing hard the whole round. I tended to swing full all the time. The plan was to take an extra club and swing smooth. I figured I'd try to work on my timing. Find a rhythm. Be the ball.

#1 Par 4
Bogeyed it. Nice start. Brew made par so I'm already one down.

#2 Par 3
(160 yards to a slightly uphill to a semi blind green.)
I took an extra club, and made a smooth swing and striped the flagstick, but couldn't tell how close it ended up from the tee. Turned out it was two feet! Birdie! I was in the last group, so I knew I had won the greebie as well as having a good chance at a skin. $31 might as well already be in my pocket.

#3 Par 4
(380 yard hole with a slight dogleg right, and if you can hit it 270+ you need to make sure you don't drive one into the lake that separates the fairway from the green.)

I laid up to 110 yards, and on my approach I one bounced one into the flagstick. Luckily* I had less than a three footer. Back to back birds!

(*Strangely it seems that often when I've hit the flagstick, the ball tends to spin away from the hole and I end up getting punished for it. One time that year or the following year at a different course, that I was playing for the first time, I hit back to back flagsticks on #3 (hit it on the fly from 150 yards out) and #4 (one bounced into it from about 90) and missed both greens! )

#4 Par 4
I took another smooth swing off the tee, and laid up to around 100 yards. I loved my Cleveland 588 gunmetal wedges, especially the 51, which I selected and striped another one!
Brew was standing next to my bag, and said "Are you going to do this all day??"
I said "I might" returning a smile.

#5 Par 5
I reached the green in two and two putted for another bird. Four in a row! All "kick-ins", too! (Brew made a birdie as well, so no skin, but Par 5s rarely hold up for a skin anyway. I figured I had a Not much bothers you when you're 3 under...)

#6 Par 4
I had another good tee shot to around 110 away, and I am not exaggerating at all when I say I absolutely striped another one! It landed behind the flagstick and spun back about three feet right of the hole.
"Unreal." Brew was smiling ear to ear, as he had played a lot of competitive golf on the college golf team, but he never saw darts being thrown like this. Keep in mind, I hadn't had anything challenging with my putter since #1! I looked at the three footer and thought it was going to break maybe a ball left if I hit it at the normal pace. I decided to ram it in instead. The ball hit the back of the cup about a quarter inch left of dead center and bounced three inches in the air and landed an inch away on the front right of the cup. I blasted it way too hard!

#7 Par 4
Lipped out from about 15 feet, but made par.

#8 Par 4
Hit driver to 70, but slightly chunked a lob wedge and ended up on the fringe about 25 away. I chose to chip it and left myself a 7 footer and made bogey. To this day I still regret not putting it, and can confidently state that was the last time I've chipped from the fringe.

#9 Par 4
Hit the green, but three hacked it. Bogey! What a blown opportunity for a low round, eh?

Out in 35 @ 1 under with four birdies.

On the back I made 2 good putts for birdie, lipped out for eagle on the longest par 5, but made birdie, and on #17 I made a crazy long big breaking bomb of a putt from the vet front of the green to a back pin placement. On #18 I missed a 15 footer by a hair to the right.

I walked in the clubhouse proud as punch, holding the scorecard with a 68 (35 on front, 33 on back), with 8 birdies by my name.

5 of my birdies tied other skins, but 3 of them held up for a skin. There were only 4 skins that day, so $310 divided by 4 was $77.50 each, so the other guy got $78 and I got $232 plus the $31 greenie.

While we were finishing up in the clubhouse, the owner walks in, and one of the guys, "Wheezin'," says "Doc, you set this course up too easy, Youngblood over here just had 8 birdies!" A nickname was born.

Unfortunately, after that day a lot of the other guys began to pay more attention to me and decided that I was getting too good for them. A couple of them told me I shouldn't play with them anymore. BB, who was never one to bite his tongue, wasn't having it, and explained how I donated for over a year, so I paid my dues. If they didn't like it they could take a hike. We never had a group that size again, and the numbers kept getting smaller and smaller. I think I broke the morning skins game!

The afternoon group got wind, and I immediately had to start validating my birdie skins with a par on the next hole for it to count as a skin. Cheapskates! I remember one rainy miserable day I shot a 73 and everyone else shot in the 80s except Ducky, who shot a 97. The paired me with Ducky in the team game and drew teams from the rest of the guys! What baloney! After that I stopped playing with them...for a while.
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