The day after the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship concludes, a small group annually plays TPC Myrtle Beach under tournament conditions, including Sunday pin positions, 4+ inch rough, and greens fast enough to scare Dale Earnhardt Jr.
I was one of the lucky few chosen to challenge the beast with the idea of seeing how an average golfer would fare – playing from the 7,000-yard tips – on the Tom Fazio design under tournament conditions.
What follows is a running a diary of the day:
7:35 a.m. – I’m choking down breakfast – nothing says I’m going to shock the world like eating a leftover, homemade calzone – while perusing the TPC scorecard. Why am I doing this to myself? I’m already identifying trouble spots, introducing doubt. Dr. Bob Rotella could write a book about the extent of my mental frailties.
8:55 a.m. – I’m a bogey golfer but even meeting that humble standard has been difficult of late. I took an emergency lesson three days prior in hopes of getting my mind and swing straightened out. After a decent session on the range, I feel ready. I know it’s going to be tough and my score is going to be exorbitant, but I’ve bet on lunch on the fact I can shoot 113 or better.
9:04 a.m. – I unsheathe the driver and hit a nice draw that finds the fairway. It’s not long but it’s in the short grass. My plan is to not get greedy, take my medicine when necessary, and make as many bogies as possible. I’m off to a good start.
9:09 a.m. – Holy sh**! They weren’t kidding about how nasty the rough is. I lifted up on a five iron and skulled it into the rough but the ball had some heat on it. It bounced once and disappeared from view, swallowed by grass high enough to stall the most powerful of John Deere’s mowers.
9:13 a.m. – Despite seeing exactly where my ball went, it still wasn’t easy to find but I quickly hacked out and put my fourth shot on the green.
9:21 a.m. – Made a nice putt for 6; not bad but I was hoping for better on one of the day’s shortest par 4s.
9:40 a.m. – That didn’t take long. After pulling my tee shot in the water on No. 2 and chipping back and forth across the green – the rough is SO deep and the greens SO fast I can’t stop the ball – I make a 15-footer to save … 10!!! We are two holes in and I feel like a participant in one of those slap fighting leagues. I’m woozy.
10:01 a.m. – After rebounding with a great double on No. 3 (yes, there is such a thing, especially when you are forced to take a penalty stroke on a 447-yard par 4), I’ve hit the fourth fairway. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all.
10:46 a.m. – What transpired in minutes after I pulled the 5-wood from my bag in the middle of the fourth fairway are too gruesome to recount on a family website and my therapist has recommended I never publicly discuss the details. All you need to know is I made triple on No. 4, an 8 on the PAR 3 fifth, and a 9 on the par 5 sixth. Any dreams of posting a score that wouldn’t embarrass a beginner have long since ended.
11:03 a.m. – A bogey on the par 3 seventh hole brings welcome relief from the onslaught.
11:30 a.m. – Another bogey on the eighth and a double on the par 4 ninth, a brutally difficult challenge, provide a glimmer of hope. I text my wife and tell her I might be pulling things together, despite making the turn at 62.
Noon: I bogeyed 10 – that’s 3 in four holes! – and missed a four-footer for bogey on No. 11. I’d played the last five holes in 7-over, but any illusions of a strong back nine ended with a drive rocketed into the trees on the 12th hole. The next 1 hour, 30 minutes were an exercise in self-flagellation. From holes 12 through 17, the numbers on my scorecard – 7, 6, 8, 10, 6, 5 – would have reduced the hardest of men to mush (if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m not among a group anyone would refer to as hard). My goal of shooting 113 and winning lunch were doomed. I lapsed into survival mode somewhere along the line.
1:45 p.m. – I made a 4-footer for bogey on TPC’s par 5 18th hole to close out the round. As far as the people on the porch could tell, I appeared to be a competent golfer but the scorecard revealed a completely different reality.
I shot a humbling 121 that left me contemplating pickleball as my hobby of choice, but I’ll be back. The only certainty is I’ll never play another golf course from 7,000 yards, especially one with rough high enough that a middle schooler could get lost playing in it.
TPC Myrtle Beach photos captured during the event and shared on our Instagram account @myrtlebeachgolftrips