This week we played another local course. Snoqualmie Falls golf course sits in the Snoqualmie valley just outside Fall City. It’s a golf course we’ve begun playing consistently this summer. Snoqualmie Falls has many similarities to the course of my youth. Tall Chief sat about ten minutes from Snoqualmie Falls and the topography of both golf courses are comparable. Tall Chief had a more difficult back-nine with more interesting holes. The back-nine of Tall Chief was built into a side hill, where all eighteen holes of Snoqualmie are relatively flat. The similarity of the two golf courses are in Tall Chief’s front nine, which is almost indistinguishable from Snoqualmie’s full eighteen. An interesting aspect of Snoqualmie is the course’s flatness. It makes walking a possibility instead of riding in a golf cart. Even though I haven’t attempted to walk while playing it, the possibility remains. Most golf courses we play around home would be difficult to walk. Many of them have a norm of riding in a golf cart because of their topography. The challenge of walking the golf course at Snoqualmie Falls remains something to attempt. However, on this day the golf cart turned into a good decision.
Another comparability between Snoqualmie Falls golf course and Tall Chief is the dryness during the late summer months. Like Tall Chief when it was still there, the fairways at Snoqualmie Falls are not watered. The result becomes golf balls rolling out much further than would be the case with watered ground. It creates a hardpan affect, which allows poor shots along the ground to turn into positive shots. With cerebral palsy influences my golf swing, and therefore shortening the distance my golf ball remains airborne, a hardpan fairway greatly increases the distance my shots travel. With a shot this week traveling 150 yards, with no business doing so. Thankfully my swing often produces a fairly straight shot, when playing on surfaces like this week, just getting the ball moving in the correct direction produces good shots. Normally the iron shots from a fairway struggle to move 150 yards. The game has always been more fun with dry, fast fairways.
On this day those dry fairways provided an advantage. With the course playing shorter, I experienced my best round of golf. The 80 was nine strokes better than my previous best of 89. Standing on the 18th tee there was a chance of making par and breaking 80. Never in my mind did the thought of having a better round then 89 occur to me. The thought of ever shooting better then 80 felt irrational. However, recording a bogie on the 18th gave me an even 80, with a 40 on the front and back nine. Sharing the day with my brother only made it sweeter. He has the ability to provide comfort and relaxation as we move around any course. It’s exciting to play golf in a way you never thought possible. Once finished thinking about the round of golf felt like a blur. Taking a couple days before having the ability to think back on the successful shots making the day possible.
Cerebral palsy has its greatest affect in my wrists and hands. Because the spasms and quivering shows up in my hands, the short game becomes most difficult in golf. Performing the delicate swings required for chipping and putting can be interesting. If spasm happened while impacting the ball many things can happen. Even the uncertainty around whether quivering in my hands will happen can plant doubt during short shots. All of these thoughts and muscular questions can rattle nerves during a game of golf. However, there are those days of relaxation when the hands and wrists stay quiet. The muscles perform in the manner directed from my brain. Usually those rounds of peace are played in warm weather along someone I’m comfortable with. This day was one of them, when the short game seemingly just worked.
As a golfer, there aren’t many days where things come together. The firm fairways made it possible to get away with some arrant golf shots. If the shot was hit straight it would roll for a while. Playing around the greens is always a different story. There aren’t many breaks to be given out. The greens at Snoqualmie Falls are some of the better greens I’ve played on a public course. It was surprising the first time playing there early this year. The greens where strikingly good and much better than the greens around Tall Chief ever were. When a good putt or chip is struck and roles true on its line, the game becomes much more comfortable. Even at Tall Chief putts and chips would ping-pong off humps and bumps in route to the hole. Shots made on and around the greens required some luck. At Snoqualmie, if a putt is struck solidly it will follow its intended line. Making play more predictable.
Cerebral palsy will always make golf more challenging. But with those challenges also comes satisfaction and accomplishment. Sometimes we accomplish things thought for ourselves to be out of reach. Shooting an 80 on a golf course under any circumstances was thought to be crazy. Playing golf has been about the challenge the game provides. The passion felt for the game has me continuing to take care of myself. Driving me to continue improving the symptoms of cerebral palsy, hopefully allowing the enjoyment of playing golf with my brother into old age. Following this accomplishment, my sights are set on gaining strength to walk 18 holes again instead of riding in the cart. Who knows if breaking 80 someday is possible, or even doing it again. Hopefully the passion for golf leads me to continue strengthening my body and watching my shots travel slightly further each year. The day was a blur of shock when we finished, but after time it has turned into a day I won’t soon forget.