At South Muskoka, Tuesdays are mostly reserved for women members. Ladies' day consists of two flights: morning ladies and afternoon ladies. So, if you're not a woman and you want to golf on Tuesday, you need to tee off before, between or after the two flights of ladies. I caught a ride to the club around 12:15 and teed off around 12:30.
I had just hit my drive on the first hole, a 364-yard par four, when a gentleman whom I vaguely recognized asked if he could join up with me. "Sure, I don't mind at all," I said. I waited while he checked in at the pro shop.
"Hi, I'm Jesse Helmer," I said, extending my hand to shake his.
"Ron P.," he said, shaking my hand. "Thanks for letting me join up."
Ron was a left-hander, that rare species of golfer vaulted into the spotlight by Mickelson and Weir. His drive started along the right edge of the fairway and faded left. I noticed that he was swinging a TaylorMade 510 driver.
My tee shot had rolled to a stop about 135 yards from the centre of the green. The wind was slightly helping. I decided to aim at the centre of the green, since the pin was tucked in the right-front corner and backed by a green-side bunker. I took an easy swing with an eight iron, but pushed it a bit right of my aimline. The wind caught it and tossed it into the bunker. Two shots later, I was on the fringe, ready to putt; two putts later, I was walking to the second tee and writing a double-bogey six on my scorecard. I think Ron took a double-bogey, too.
It turns out that I recognized Ron from a curling bonspiel. He moved up to Muskoka from Toronto almost ten years ago. He spends his retirement golfing every day during the week.
Starting a round with a double-bogey is difficult. Often, I find it hard to score well when I score poorly early. It's a mental game challenge that often gets the better of me. Today's round was a good example. I bogeyed the second (a par four) and third (a par five) holes, but finally parred the fourth, the first par three. I parred the fifth with a great two putt, but double-bogeyed the sixth, a tough par four that seems to have my number this year. I bogeyed the seventh, an easy par four, and three-putted the eighth from ten feet for another bogey. At this point, I was fairly frustrated with my game. But things turned around a bit when I birdied the ninth hole.
Ron's game was about as good as mine. I think he shot 45 on the front nine while I shot 43.
I boarded the bogey train for the first part of the back nine, earning well deserved bogies on the tenth, eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth holes. But I birdied the fourteenth with a great eight iron approach (I hit the ball to about five feet and made the putt). Much to my dismay, I double-bogeyed the fifteenth (an easy par five) and sixteenth (a tough par four). I bore down, however, and parred the final two holes for 43 on the back nine.
I putted well, but mental game mistakes and a few poor swings cost me a lot of shots. Playing with Ron was fun.