Ross: Ugly on a scorecard, good for a memory

Apr. 27, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

Golf is one of the few sports which allow a player to experience the same test, albeit without the competition, crowd, cameras or stakes, a pro does.

Sure, there are tours which let fans stand in the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium, leap into the ivy at Wrigley or stand on the frozen tundra of Lambeau.

Golfers can — even if once in a lifetime — play a full, honest-to-mulligan round at St. Andrew’s, Carnoustie, Bethpage Black, Kapalua, Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and, with the right connections, Augusta National. While not for millions, or for your name engraved on a priceless trophy, the round counts. The one birdie will be a true story, with a little added yardage, wind or undulation perhaps, for rounds and dinners to come.

While I enjoy the game, time doesn’t let me be an avid golfer these days. I’d like to work up to it. My bucket list includes a little bit of golf. Scotland would be unbelievable to check off with golf as part of the trip.

Once as a vacation with my dad on a Sunday in January, and once under the laughable guise of “work” as part of a gaggle of media people this past Monday, I’ve been fortunate to play Pinehurst No. 2 twice in the last three months.

Watching the 1999 and 2005 opens on television is as close as I got to the resort before taking a day trip to wander around last year.

Taking my clubs and feeling an impostor, along the lines of a college football fan who’s seen two games in person, both being Rose Bowls, the round in January will remain more memorable than Monday’s.

Pinehurst and Donald Ross returned a memory to me — Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa.

Yes, the course itself, sure. Kahkwa is a difficult, handsome Ross course as well. It’s not Pinehurst No. 2. What is? Take a 71-degree, low-humidity August afternoon and an easy breeze off Lake Erie and, at least for enjoyment’s sake if not for golf’s sake, I’ll take that over 101 degrees at Pinehurst in summer, which, for all parties involved, hopefully holds off until June 23.

More than the Ross greens, which Pinehurst is Kahkwa cubed, or the sharp penalties for missing those greens, or the correct piece of a green, whether by a yard or 30 yards, the memory was the rounds with my dad, grandfather and brother. What I shot in Erie is irrelevant at this point. It was meaningless 10 minutes after the round ended.

On No. 2, I was happy to keep it in double digits both rounds. I was at my normal Sanford Golf Course round on the 15th or 16th. I don’t know if the difference is about right, or only right for my “game,” whatever my game is.

Ross and my short game, even more so at his masterpiece, do not jive. Three-putts from 50 feet ruin any GIRs I luck into. If I find sand, “broken ground,” pine straw, wild grass or a chip shot with only a five-foot-high false front between my ball and the pin — give me a six, no, really, for the love of picking a putter, an 8-iron or a lob wedge, please, please give me a six.

As a journalist and a golfer, I can’t wait for the opens. I also can’t wait for another round with my granddad, dad and brother; at any course would be good, Pinehurst would be great, Kahkwa would be best.