Last Saturday I had the opportunity to get a round in at the PB Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville, MD. It’s a gem of a course – plush fairways, smooth rolling greens, variety of tee boxes, ample PB Dye marketing, and a great clubhouse to grab a dog at the turn and a beer after the round. That’s the focus of this post: the turn.
The turn is the transition from the front nine to the back nine; hole 9 to 10. It’s one of the most overlooked parts of a round. It’s the halfway point – a milestone or benchmark, if you will – that is given a lot of words but not much time for consideration. “Made the turn at 2-over. Finished with an eighty-eight.” “The Masters doesn’t really start until the turn on Sunday.” “Think we got time to stop by the car at the turn?”
I view the turn in a slightly different light. It’s an opportunity to relax a bit between nines, to grab a dog, maybe a beer, apply some sunscreen, wash the hands, and get ready for the next nine. It’s also a time to meet new people, take a break with your group, and take an already social game to the next level…
A big complaint in golf, right now, is that it takes too long — play is slow. This is true. Every player walking off yardages down to the inch, taking five practice swings before every shot, reading putts from every angle, marking their ball when they have a six-incher, and going back-and-forth about who’s away, guarantees at least a 5 hour round. Once in a while, though, it’s worth setting aside a few minutes to enjoy the company of the group you’re with.
A few months ago, a friend of mine had the brilliant idea of starting a Facebook group of golfers – friends, co-workers, strangers – for the purpose of setting up tee-times over the spring and summer. We put together two foursomes to go out to Langston on a freezing Saturday morning. We were basically the only people on the course. On the front nine, each of us plotted our way around, barely speaking except to say, “It’s cold.”
At the turn, however, we spent a solid twenty minutes updating each other on our work, families, jokes, memories, and everything in between. Yeah, we could have just grabbed a dog and made our way out but, instead, we took some time to know each other better. Cold, though we were, we made our way back into the elements and enjoyed the rest of our round. I’m not suggesting that every group, every round, needs to take twenty minutes with their playing partners in the grill. I’m just suggesting that, if you’re going to be out there, get to know the folks you’re going to spend another two hours with. I promise the back-nine will be much more pleasant. You’ll probably play better, too.
I was chipping in my bed room on Friday night before my round at PB Dye. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a great way to get the feel for chipping after a long winter season. I noticed that I was gripping the club like I would grip a putter — too much club in the palm of my left hand. I was losing accuracy and distance in a big way. I fixed my grip.
When I got out to PB Dye, I was hitting everything longer and straighter. What’s the problem with that? I wasn’t used to it. I shot a pretty decent 41 on the front. My friend and I took a 15 minute break in the clubhouse at the turn, talking with the bartender, and discussing how impressive the greens were even though they’d recently been aerated and sanded. In my mind, however, I was thinking, “club down and aim at the pin…club down and aim at the pin.”
On the back nine, I shot a one-over 37. Shockingly great play given my previous several rounds.
That would not have happened if I just went straight on to the 10th hole as soon as I was done with 9.
The point: take some time at the turn.