amateur golfDecember 15, 2014

My heartbreaking year on the golf course in 5 painful pictures

I'm not sure what's weirder: the fact that I couldn't seem to get a break on the golf course all year when it really mattered or that so many of these close calls were captured on camera. But fortunately unfortunately, they were. Let's take a look.

It started in March during a friendly putting contest with co-workers at the office (Yes, Golf Digest has a practice putting green in its Wilton, Conn., office. We refer to it as "Royal Wilton." Obviously.). Things got serious, though, when the pot grew to a whole $8. I was in the lead and could practically taste the foot-long sub I was going to buy with my winnings that evening. Then this happened:

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About a month passed and I had a chance for redemption on the same green. This time, I had made the finals of the Spring Opener, one of two annual "majors" contested at Royal Wilton. After my colleague -- and office putting arch-nemesis -- Steve Hennessey made a 15-foot putt (of course) to tie me on the final hole of regulation, I had a 15-footer of my own to win a sudden-death playoff. . .

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Nope. Didn't drop. And Steve went on to claim that coveted plaid jacket hanging on the wall.

Then came the event on my calendar I'm most excited for every year: my annual golf trip. We went to Williamsburg, Va., this time and unlike other years, I rose to the challenge and played the best golf of my life over a four-day period in June. And? I still lost. To a 25-handicapper. This cocky 25-handicapper:

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Thanks, USGA, for creating a system that "levels the playing field." I've never seen so many par-net eagles in my life. But at least I can hang my hat -- if not that green jacket -- on the fact I played well under the pressure of an important event. And at least I didn't lose in stunning fashion on the 18th hole. Nope, I saved that for last.

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Everyone at Golf Digest looks forward to the annual Seitz Cup. Think the Ryder Cup, but without ugly matching sweaters and captains who take themselves too seriously. This event is a BIG deal at work and I had the honor, along with Keely Levins, of trying to take down the undefeated tandem of Mike Johnson and Ashley Mayo -- the Golf Digest version of Seve and Ollie -- in the day's final match.

Through 16 holes, Keely and I played the role of plucky underdogs and took a 1-up lead. But a Johnson birdie combined with a close miss by us on 17 tied things. Still, we were in great shape for at least a tie with a much shorter birdie attempt on the final hole. Then Ashley did this from 30 feet:

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What a putt. What a dagger. That's OK, I thought. I still had my attempt to answer and my 20-footer was in the heart for about 19 feet and 10 inches. . .

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Nope. Didn't drop. Again. With another crushing loss, I was left feeling like this generation's Greg Norman.

In contrast, this photo of me grabbing a seventh(?) chocolate chip cookie -- and a much healthier Max Adler eating his first -- was the only photo taken of me at Golf Digest's last official event of 2014, the Turkey Putt:

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I was not a part of the action, having not qualified for the finals, but in a way, just watching and stuffing myself was more fun. It was certainly less stressful since it's pretty much impossible to lip out a cookie.

Clearly, 2014 just wasn't my year on the course. But better luck next season . . . right? Come on, 2015! You can't get here fast enough.

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