It was a shotgun start, so we started on nine. Nine, ten and eleven is Picton's Amen Corner. Many groups pay anyone in their group who can get through it in even par. It's definitely the hardest stretch on the course, and is probably easier if you have eight holes under your belt before you face it.
I started on nine with a pushed tee shot that rattled around in the trees and made an opening bogey. Spiros made par. We both ended up one over through Amen Corner and at least had the luxury of knowing we'd faced the real meat of the course without having done too much damage.
In the end, I was even par for the day and Spiros had the chance to break 80 for the first time in years. But for a duffed chip on the second last hole, Spiros might have been in the seventies. The inevitable "ifs" were discussed. If only he hadn't three putted from twenty feet on two, if only he hadn't hit three crummy chips, if... Of course, the reality is ifs are a waste of time. As the saying goes, "If your aunt had had nuts she'd have been your uncle."
Ifs work both ways. If I hadn't chipped in for birdie on three and holed a thirty footer for birdie on eight, I wouldn't have shot even par. In fact, I had to hole a six footer for par on the last hole. Raymond Floyd called the six foot putt the most important shot in golf. You need to make a lot of them to score well. Those are the good ifs. I think it's better to remember the good bounces rather than the ones that got away. We both played well for us. It could have been better and it could have been worse. But the important thing was that a couple of old, worn-out soccer players were out there still walking the course and enjoying the game.
I've found that the secret to scoring is not necessarily doing anything spectacular: you just have to keep it in play and avoid the big numbers. In fact, as we headed out today I told Spiros I just wanted to make nothing worse than bogey, since I have been making too many big numbers lately. I succeeded and made a decent score as a result. Spiros only made one double bogey, which is an improvement for him. Bogeys won't really hurt you; it's those dreaded others that really ruin a good round.