Pick a date, any date, over the last 49 years. If I played golf that day, I can tell you what I shot, how many birdies, pars and bogeys I made, how many greens I hit in regulation and how many times I one-putted or three-putted.
I don’t have a photographic memory. What I have are two dog-eared, spiral-bound notebooks, in which I have dutifully recorded the details of every round of golf I’ve ever played*.
Any golfer can tell you his or her career-best score, and probably can recite some details from that round. I can do that for every round of golf I’ve played since 1971, the year I started playing the game with high school buddies.
I can tell you that in 2019, I made 27 birdies, 219 pars, 321 bogeys, 111 double-bogeys, 28 triple-bogeys, three quadruple-bogeys and one quintuple-bogey.
I can tell you that since 2005, I have chipped in 34 times.
I can tell you that I have made 711 birdies in exactly 2,622 nine-hole rounds in my life (through May 23).
I can tell you that I have played 442 different courses in 26 states and eight countries.
What started out as a simple way to chart my progress as a beginning golfer became a compulsion and morphed into an obsession.
*As a disclaimer, I have to admit I have misplaced a handful of scorecards over the years and have gone nearly mad during frenzied, futile attempts to find them. It pains me to admit my record is missing a few scores – probably no more than six or eight, not enough to skew my career numbers but enough to bother me every time I think about it.
And I have to wonder. Am I borderline crazy, or just very detail oriented? Do I need to see a shrink, or would a good accountant suffice? And for the love of Hogan, can someone help me set up a spreadsheet? The thought of inputting all these numbers into a computer makes me break out in hives.
I know, I know. Literally no one else in the entire world, including and especially my wife, cares what I shot at TPC Deere Run on June 4, 2012 (a career-best 72, with five birdies and eight one-putt greens). No one cares what I shot at Pebble Beach on June 21, 2010, the Monday after the U.S. Open (a 106, with a 59 – ouch – on the front nine. Hey, that rough was deep).
But I can think of no possession, other than my dog, that I value more than my golf notebooks. If my house was burning down, I would grab them ahead of my framed and autographed photos of Vince Lombardi and the Apollo 11 astronauts, ahead of even my golf clubs. Titanium and graphite can be replaced. Details from my scores in 1999 – including rounds at Shoreacres in Chicago, The Dunes in Myrtle Beach and Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland – would be lost forever.
Not that you’re interested, but here’s how it works: During my rounds, I keep track of all pertinent information (birdies, pars, bogeys, others, one-putt greens, GIR, etc.) on the scorecard and then transfer that information into the notebook as soon as possible. Rain is my mortal enemy. Soggy scorecards can be difficult to decipher or, worse, fall apart.
I enter the information in nine-hole segments and immediately update my scoring average (43.341 last year, a career-low 41.350 in 1991).
Scrambles and shambles do not count, because I’m not playing my own ball on every shot.
Thus, I know that I have broken 80 on 60 occasions since 1980 and over that span have failed 13 times to break 100. I know that my career-worst score was 111, on Sept. 5, 2000, on the Fountains Course at Garland Lodge & Golf Resort in Lewiston, Mich. Fountains? The place was one big water hazard.
I know that in my first five rounds of 2020, all in Florida in January, I compiled a poker straight of 85-86-87-88-89, though not in that order. I know that the fewest nine-hole rounds I played in a calendar year was 13 in 1979 (excuse: my daughter Nicole was born that May), and the most was 132 in the carefree summer of ‘73 (career-high 48 birdies, almost all of them at Grant Park).
Bryson DeChambeau has got nothing on me. I am the king of strokes-gained, nerdiness.
In all seriousness, I may have a mild case of arithmomania, an expression of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sufferers may, for instance, feel compelled to count the steps while ascending or descending a flight of stairs (I plead guilty).
Surely, though, there are other golfers who share my addiction to the minutiae of wholly meaningless rounds of golf.
If you’re out there, I’d like to hear from you. As Elton John would say, it’s lonely out in space.