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Monday, April 21, 2008

Memorable Shots at Harbour Town

Watching Boo Weekly win the Verizon Heritage at Harbour Town on Hilton Head brought back images of a memorable shot I hit there. That's one of the great things about the game--your best shots stay in your memory the way a good 18-year-old single malt lingers on the back of your throat.

I was playing with Beau and Dick, boon companions with whom I've teed it up since balata was the peak of golf technology, which is a long, long time. This trip wasn't quite that long ago, but it wasn't yesterday, either. I think Bush The First may have been in office, but I'm not exactly sure. It's funny, I can remember the shot I hit that day, but not who was President of the United States.

A storm threatened before the round began, but it wasn't raining, so we were going to play and hope for the best. It was very foggy on the practice range. I remember because Beau was warming up with brand new irons when the head of his five iron snapped off the graphite shaft and disappeared into the fog. Amid many jibes about his prodigious strength and how he should try to hit the ball instead of the ground two inches below it, he trotted out onto the range, found the club head, and took it to the pro shop for repair. That wasn't going to happen before our tee time, so Beau played with a loaner--complaining about it the entire round, of course.

The wind off Calibogue Sound was vicious, which played havoc with my erratic game that day. The teeny-tiny Harbour Town greens--the smallest on the PGA tour--were particularly unhittable for me and my score showed it. I don't recall the exact number on any given hole, but when I reached the 18th tee, I needed no worse than a bogey to break 100. I was not having a positive golf score experience.

Having given up all hope, I stepped up to the final tee shot totally relaxed. In other words, I didn't give a damn anymore. The wind roared directly into my face from somewhere behind the candy-striped lighthouse behind the green 478 yards away. Not caring, I swung loose--very loose--and hit the ball on the dime-size sweet spot on my Spaulding Executive driver. (That kind of dates the story, doesn't it?)

The ball took off low and boring into the wind, ending up in the center of the fairway next to a sprinkler head that said I had bombed it 279 yards into the wind. I find it mystifying that I can remember the exact yardage of my drive, but not who was the leader of the free world that day.

Yes, I broke 100, even though I sailed my second shot over the green in a paroxysm of adrenaline compounded by severe over-clubbing. A 99 is nothing to brag about, but I'll never forget that drive.

The other thing I remember is the Christmas present I sent to Dick and Beau that year: a ceramic beer stein picturing the 18th hole at Harbour Town. On it, I used a read Sharpie to draw a star where my drive landed.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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