Various deep thinkers over the centuries have said essentially the same thing: Those who don’t understand the past are doomed to repeat it.
I wish I could say that the same concept applies to bozo golf. I’ll never understand it, and I seem doomed to repeat it no matter what I do.
What is bozo golf? It is the term I invented for my stupefying habit of having one or two bad holes in just about every round. I’m playing great, everything feels good and then – bam! – I lapse into bozo golf, where one bad shot begets another until I’ve made a double bogey or worse and feel like a clown.
A recent round is a perfect example. See if this sounds familiar to things that have happened to you.
I wasn’t hitting my approach shots particularly well, but the putter was bailing me out and I was right around even par.
When a good drive on a par-5 leaked just a bit and bounced into the water, leading to a double bogey, I still wasn’t concerned. Every shot on the hole had been pretty good, but I caught my wedge flush, left myself with a long downhill putt for par, and turned a tough two-putt into a three-putt.
Oh well. Stuff happens out there.
I went to the ninth hole 2 over par. Not bad. It’s a short par-4, so let’s just make par or birdie and move on. It would be a good front nine.
All I had left to the green was a sand wedge. Sure, it was just off the fairway and in some unusually fluffy rough, and, yes, there was water around the green, but it still should be no problem.
Except that I caught it horribly fat and moved it only halfway to the green.
I didn’t see that coming, but I was sure I could recover. I’m real confident in my chipping ability these days. I’ll just get it close and sneak away with a par, I thought.
Except that I was a little farther away that I would have liked. I should have taken a less lofted club and run it up there more, but I thought the sand wedge would be OK from that distance.
Except that it landed just short of the green and, instead of bouncing forward, took a right turn into a little gully. I still wasn’t on in three.
I hit a much better chip this time and got it within about five feet. I hit a pretty good putt, but it broke a little more than I expected.
Double bogey. I had turned a solid 38 into a disappointing 40.
Not good, I thought, but I’ll get it back on No. 10, another short par-4. I’m driving the ball well, so I’ll just knock one up there by the green, hit a good wedge this time and make birdie.
Except that I picked this moment to hit my only duck hook of the day. It came out of nowhere. Just totally came over the top and was lucky it didn’t go out of bounds.
Surprisingly, I had a shot to the green. It was a tough stance, but it still was only an 8-iron. All I had to do was just swing smooth and get it up by the green somewhere.
Except that I hit it a little left, and it found a patch of grainy dirt on a mound. I didn’t know what it was going to do off that lie, so I tried to hit a bump-and-run, figuring that it would be tough to catch it clean. Surely, an 8-iron would work.
Wrong again. As hard as I tried to hit the ball first and come down through it, I caught it fat and it barely went anywhere. The next chip again was better, the putt again didn’t do what I thought it would, and I had a second consecutive double on a short hole.
I compounded my bozo golf issues by missing a two-footer for par on No. 11. Now I would need to par out for 79.
And I almost did it. I went to the 17th tee needing to play the last two holes in 1-under to break 80, but then I bogeyed 17 to pretty much wreck any hopes of that.
I needed to eagle the par-5 18th for 79 and had to settle for par when my seemingly perfect putt lipped out even though it was barely moving as it reached the hole. Everyone in the group thought it was going in.
It was a classic bozo golf round. My 81 definitely should have been a 76 or better. I hit the ball like a 76. It felt like a 76. But the scorecard said 81. All because of a three-hole stretch of bozo golf.
Does this ever happen to you? What do you do to stop it? I have gotten much better over the years at having a short-term memory and getting back on the par train after lapsing into bozo golf. But it still comes back to bite me from time to time.
Still, despite the frustration it creates, I accept bozo golf as one more reason why I love our great game. If I never had a bad hole, the birdies and the routine pars and the heroic par saves wouldn’t feel nearly as good.
Yes, I probably am doomed to repeat bozo golf from time to time, but it’s never a reason to stop playing. In its own funny, bozo way, it keeps me coming back.