If you've never been to Monterey California please try and go some day. There is no shortage of
beauty all around. Walk along the boardwalk overlooking the bay and you will catch Sea Otter’s relaxing in the kelp. Find your way coast side and you’ll hear and eventually see Seals and Sea
Lions negotiating for the perfect sunning spot on a rock. Every wave that comes into shore reveals the crystal clear water until it inevitably hits a boulder producing another picture perfect moment.
And of course there is golf. Every golf course I have ever seen in and around Monterey seems to be in perfect condition just waiting to be played. Each course trying to outdo each other for the best view of the Pacific Ocean or the Monterey Bay. The most famous oceanside course of them all in Monterey, in the US, and maybe even the world is Pebble Beach Golf Links. To some this the end all be all bucket list course. I have only seen parts of the course and from what I have seen it’s not lacking in beauty.
**Side note: My bucket list course is Augusta National. Don’t get me wrong, if the stars aligned and I had a chance to play Pebble I would be first in line, and seeing that you can’t just roll up to Augusta and pay to play, I have a better chance of getting on to Pebble, but one can dream!
On this day I was headed away from the shores of the ocean and bay, and I was headed away from Pebble, but not too far from Pebble, not so much in distance, but in family. I was headed to the course that is the predecessor to Pebbles. This course was the Pebble of its day, Today I was headed to the oldest public golf course West of the Mississippi; Del Monte Golf Course.
It was 10:45 and I was walking with my new push cart and my gallery of one, Laura, to check in at the pro shop. It was a sunny windless day, which is kind of lucky for this area, and it looked like the weather was going to hold for the day. When checking in I was asked if I needed a cart and I proudly announced that I was walking...I expected some sort of reaction to this moment, there wasn’t much of one, I learned why a later in the day.
My tee time was at 11:20 and the big clock at the first tee was keeping me informed of the impending first tee shot of the quest. I was a little nervous, and usually I would go to the driving range to work off the nerves. There is no driving range at Del Monte so I decided to putt a little...by the way this does not help with nerves, I decided to find an area away from folks to get the blood moving with a few full swings, that helped, plus I had in the back of my mind yesterdays warm up round at Pacific Grove...I was feeling better.
Like yesterday, I was matched up with a threesome, but unlike yesterday I found my way in the middle of a three team tournament. When I walked up to the first tee there were like ten folks huddled around the white tees, the starter corralled the threesome and I was introduced. It was a bit chaotic, but once we figured out who was who and what the order of the groups teeing off were we were ready to play. The group I was in was teeing off first and within the group I was teeing off last,,,of course. Player one teed off, 225 down the middle, second to go, 230 down the middle, third, 235, you guest it, down the middle. Now everyone turned to me, it was my turn to tee off.
As I was walking up to the tee I had the usual first tee chitters, and it didn’t help that there were 10 folks huddled around waiting, watching, lobbing “no pressure” jabs at me, which I accepted all in good fun. Added to this was the quest I was on. I began to think; "No one knows I’m on a quest, no one know’s how many months I’ve been waiting to get under way, no one knows the fan pressure I feel...", OK that was made up in my head...Anyway, As I walked to the tee with that knowledge that no one knows about my own personal quest, well it totally calmed me down. I went into a zone of sorts. I was all alone as I picked my spot to tee off from, I settled the ball on the tee in total silence, brushed my hand on the tee box grass to introduce myself to the course, I stood and found my line. Then I turned and addressed the ball, telling myself, “slow and easy, 75% and commit through the ball”. Tap, Tap my toes, one hip waggle and I pulled the trigger. 230, down the middle.
The first tee was all about me taking in the moment.
I walked right down the middle of the fairway taking in the contours of the course, feeling the warmth of the sun, and hearing the sounds of golfers near by hitting up to an adjacent hole. I was 100 yards into my journey and could not have been happier. It was great to get back to walking a course, I felt an immediate connection with the course and my game. As I was approaching my ball I had already felt any wind there might have been, any slope that could impact the swing. By being connected, or feeling the game you are taking in so much more of the game then you realize so by the time you get to the ball you are ready to hit. Del Monte starts you off with an uphill par 5 that is straight as an arrow. By the time I reached the green I was loose, relaxed, and ready to expand my vision beyond me.
After I putted out and moved to the next hole it was time to get to know my playing partners. Over the next few holes we learned a little bit about each other. Two of the guys were from Denver and the other player was from Oakland, not far from me. It turns out that the player from Oakland is also the organizer of the tournament I was crashing. This group of ten is only a small portion of players yet to play. This tournament is actually one of several tournament played all week long. By weeks end there will a total of 28 guys coming and going through the week. Every year the tournament organizer rents a home near Pebble Beach and it’s basically an open house for the entire week. And get this, they have been doing this for seven years. Todays games was some sort of modified Stableford points system.
The day continued on and the walk was very pleasant. I did notice something, and it wasn’t until the 12 hole or so, but there seemed to be more walkers then riders. Maybe that contributed to a new level of quiet I’m not used to hearing, or maybe it was just that I was walking and I had not done that for some time? Anyway, It was good for me to see. We all moved to the 18th hole and this was another beauty; narrow tree lined
fairway that, if you could get through the trees it opened up to a wider slight dogleg left approach to the hole. I saved my best drive for the last hole and made it though to the open side, and I could have picked up right there and went home completely satisfied with my day...I played on and finished equally satisfied. The rest of the group finished well. They were a little distracted due to the fact that several pounds of meat needed to be delivered to the house by 5pm. They were preparing to feed 20 or so guys at the annual tournament kick off BBQ.
What a day, what a beginning to this quest of mine. I had perfect weather, a great group of guys to spend the day with, and I can’t forget the gallery of one (Laura) for coming along for a walk with me!