When You Cross Paths With a Black Cat

Yesterday morning, I got out to Legends on the Niagara – Ussher’s Creek Course to play a round of golf with my friend Randy. I always have a great time whenever I get the opportunity to play golf, especially when I get out onto the course with Randy.

The day started out mundane as usual. We always tee off at 7:54 so my alarm went off at 6 o’clock as it usually does. I rose out of the bed feeling good about the morning and what the day would bring, for I had a really nice, workman-like session at the range yesterday. I showered, got dressed, walked my dog, grabbed my golf bag, and proceeded to go downstairs to my truck and head out. An obligatory stop at Tim Horton’s later, I was on the highway heading towards Niagara Falls… On the good side of course.

A couple of coyotes that were part of a pack on the Par-5 2nd hole.

The sky was cloudy which is no big deal, because there were light rain showers in the forecast. I don’t mind playing in the rain, I mean we’re golfers and the more die-hard you are, the stupider the conditions will be that you accept and cope with just to chase a white, yellow, red, orange or green golf ball around.

Upon arriving at the “Bag Drop” I loaded my clubs up onto the cart and Randy showed up moments later and did the same. As he got himself back into his truck, I told him that I’d drive the cart over and pick him up in the parking lot. Then it happened. A black cat crossed directly in front of me.

For those of you that don’t, and many of you wouldn’t know, I’m a bit of a superstitious person. In fact, I’ve been this way since childhood. I never walked under ladders nor did I ever step on a crack for fear of breaking my mother’s back. Growing up, playing sports was no different either. Playing baseball, I always had a certain ritual involving systematic tugs of my jersey, I always ate an “Oh Henry” chocolate bar before stepping onto the ice to play hockey (I was a goalie), and there might have been a tendency to not wash socks while I was on a good run. Heck, even when it comes to golf I always try to get to the course an hr early to through a routine. You may not think that it’s superstitious but to me, it certainly feels like it is.

I’m CATatonic.

I didn’t realize it, but that black cat (which happens to be a regular) ended up cursing the round and it didn’t take long. Right at the first tee. Historically speaking, I’ve never played well without a range warm-up prior to the round. I felt great after yesterday’s session and I looked forward to stepping up onto the tee. then the unthinkable happened. My opening was a slice that ended up out of bounds down the right side. No breakfast ball applied I hit three from the tee and I shanked my driver into the woods down the right side. Feeling a little unnerved now, I tee up my hybrid, just to get the ball into play down this easy, short(ish) Par 4. I proceed to cold-top that tee shot. SO, I sputter my way down the fairway and hit an okay approach into the green. A solid strike thankfully, because I worked on killing the flip yesterday. The first hole culminated with an 11. Not my worst hole that I’ve ever posted a score on. That dubious distinction goes to a 12 that I took many years ago.

On the second hole, there was a pack of coyotes crossing the fairway. No big deal, I mean out there you have to expect them and they were gorgeous. No mange whatsoever. With black clouds rolling in as we approached the Par 3 3rd and then the thunder happened. Thunder? What in the actual blue Hell? That wasn’t in the forecast. As I made my swing a crack of thunder boomed and I got a little jumpy. I have no issue with thunder, but I happen to be very allergic to lightning. Furthermore, a ball rustled into the trees from the fairway next to us. The result was an ugly push block, out of bounds… Again! By this time, I’m about ready to just leave, but that’s not my speed. Never quit, right?! Getting that hole out of the way we made our way to the 4th tee and then someone turned off the lights. It got dark, fast! Onward we went.

Something unexpected is coming. The 4th tee. Can someone please turn on the lights?

As the round progressed and we made our way to the 6th tee and the light rains came. It’s just that an overzealous, too-optimistic meteorologist gave the wrong forecast. They weren’t light rains. It was relatively heavy, so out comes the rain gear. No big deal. We’re prepared golfers. By the time we reached the 8th fairway it now feels like we’re playing golf somewhere in the North Sea. No, not on a golf course along the North Sea, but IN the actual sea. Randy, already on the cart, and I’m still on the green finishing out the hole. I emit a “Wooooo” a la wrestling great Ric “Nature Boy” Flair and I’m laughing. “Welcome to the British Isles” I exude, full of laughter. So we took refuge at a bathroom shelter where a greenskeeper was doing the same. We thanked him for his hard work. The rain passed, and for a split second the sun came out. It was literally about 10 seconds.

The rain really picked up on the 11th hole, at least for a couple of minutes and after hitting a tee shot down the fairway which landed centre-right, I had 181 yards into the green. Into the wind, I selected my 4H and for the second time in the round I lost a ball from the point of contact. I had no clue where it went. My divot was pointed right at the pin, it was a very good strike and no ball was found. The exact same thing happened on the 8th hole as well with the 3H. Crossing this wooden bridge to get to the green, I slipped on the bridge and wrenched my knee a little. On the Par 5 12th I played two very good shots, just to thin my approach into green. That thin cost me two consequential strokes on a duffed pitch and chip respectively. The 13th hole, a Par 3 ,saw me hit the weirdest shot that I’ve ever struck. There was like a “hitch”, a hesitation, and just a general feeling of weirdness with the swing itself. The strike was centre of the face but acted like a near shank that landed 30 yards short and right of the green. Now, I really feel like I’m in an episode of “The Twilight Zone”.

The coup de gras though was on #14 which is a Par 5. A good tee shot was followed by a thinned metal from the fairway, which was followed up by a moderately good strike. From there I hit a wedge that should have ended up very nicely. Instead, I watched, helpless and bewildered as my golf ball struck something (I assume a sprinkler head) and ended up at the back of the green. Right in the collar. The lie was buried. And then the wind picked up. In saying that it ‘picked up” isn’t as accurate as to say a gale came in.

The beauty of fall golf has begun in Niagara.

Holy smokes, with that gale came the thunder, the lightning, and the heavy rains. Water was cascading down from the visor of my cap like nearby Niagara Falls. Now we just looked at each other, Randy and I, and declare that we were done. So next came the drive back to the parking lot in a way that felt like the “walk of shame”. It was game, set, and match.

The day was full of odd shots that have never happened before, lost balls on perfect strikes, bad bounces, thunderstorms that weren’t in the forecast, and I shot the worst score that I’ve had in years. All because of one little kitty cat. In the end, it was still a great morning with lots of laughs. That’s golf and what golf should be about.

Until The Next Tee!!

#seeuonthenexttee #fightandgrind