Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

Living Large

By Ron Kaspriske Illustrations by Tavis Coburn
November 23, 2010

You know what's fun? Making lots of pars. You know what else is fun? Having a birdie putt on a dozen holes. How about rolling in a long putt for eagle? Let me tell you, that's bliss on tap. Many of you probably have no idea what any of this feels like. I used to be like you. But now I'm a scoring machine -- and it didn't take 10 years of intense practice to become one. So what's my secret?

First, the back story: I have a 13.6 Handicap Index, and, on a good day, can shoot in the low-to-mid-80s. But on most days, there always seems to be a triple bogey waiting around the next dogleg. So I got to thinking, Why am I beating myself up every time I play? There had to be a yardage I could tee it from that would allow me to break par. When you think about it, the yardages we play from are as arbitrary as making a golf course 18 holes instead of, say, 14. So as an experiment while on vacation in Florida, I went to World Woods Golf Club

in Brooksville and played the par-71 Pine Barrens course from shorter and shorter distances to see if I could really score.


I started at the forward tees (5,301 yards) for the first round and shot an 81. The next day I moved up to flat spots about 20 yards in front of the forward tees, created my own teeing ground, and shot a 78 from 4,941 yards. I learned from those two rounds that, because I'm fairly long off the tee but my short game is suspect, my best chance to score would be if I played from a spot that allowed me to reach nearly every par 4 with my tee shot and every par 5 in two. That way, I could still two-putt for birdie or save par with a chip and a two-putt.

My strategy worked. I reconfigured my course to 4,792 yards and shot one-under-par 70. I won't bore you with all the details, but I did drive the first hole from 260 yards and two-putted for birdie, then drove the second hole from 240 yards and made a curling, 30-footer for eagle. I'm here to say, being three under after two is exhilarating. So was dropping birdies on 16 and 17 to all but clinch my sub-par round. What it came down to was putting. Most of my birdie putts come with a side order of terror. I can backhand a six-footer into the cup for triple bogey, but I wouldn't give myself a birdie putt outside of five inches. But that was the old Ron. Not Mr. Scoring Machine. With 12 birdie putts in a round, they become routine. I finished the round with 29 putts and only one three-putt.

Stats aside, this was the first time I felt a round of golf was truly fun from start to finish. I once shot 80 at San Francisco Golf Club to win a big match. You could argue that was fun. But in truth, I hadn't been that nervous since I sent a note to Lauren Psillos in the fourth grade telling her I liked her. This had an entirely different feeling.

You know what else made it fun? It was rebellious. I was hoping I could play alone to avoid the awkward moment of teeing up so far in front of my playing partners. No such luck. The first day I was paired with two middle-age men playing from the back tees. There also had to be about 10 other golfers loitering around the first tee. I felt like the kid in the big game who shoots free throws underhand. Still, I couldn't help but laugh to myself at the situation. After my playing partners hit, I took a deep breath, walked to the forward tee, set up and striped one down the middle and then started down the fairway. I never turned around to see anyone's reaction. Nor did I care. I was going to play golf my way -- and love every minute of it.