Great shots aren’t solely the preserve of first-class players, but it’s rare to see a truly great shot from players who aren’t either the best pros or best amateurs in the world.
But in the space of two holes last weekend, I saw two shots I’d class as two of the very best I’ve ever seen and they came in a competition from which you’d least expect to see anything to turn the head of a cynical old pro.
It’s division two women’s pennant at Victoria Golf Club. My club, Metropolitan, is playing The Heritage and I’m caddying for my friend Michelle Hui, who is playing a 22-year-old commerce student, Olivia Lewis.
Our first three matches have offered nothing in the way of great golf except three wins during which Michelle only needed to play “80 golf” to win. In the opening round she and her opponent were both in the front left bunker at Metro’s third hole. Michelle went first, bladed the bunker shot into an unplayable lie in the ti-tree, never hit another shot and still won the hole.
You get the idea.
Anyway, after a miserable front nine (teeing off the 10th) we were 5-down at the turn. The second half of the match was better and by the eighth tee we were only 1-down. Both Victoria’s eighth and ninth are par fives and we reasoned Olivia wasn’t going to take a six at either, so making a birdie at the eighth was an essential part of having any chance.
After her drive, Michelle had 200m into the wind from a good lie in the rough and the choice was to lay back safely short of the trouble with a 5-iron or go with the 4-wood. The longer shot was the only real choice, but she hit a low, sniping hook which hit a tree and flicked far left into the left greenside bunker at the fourth hole.
Still 75m from the pin, she was behind a big, old cypress tree and next to it was some sort of eucalypt. There was a tiny V-shaped gap between the two and the only hope was to catch it perfectly off the sand, carry it high enough to clear the trees, straight enough to pick the gap and hope.
Somehow, she caught it perfectly, even drawing it a touch on the wind, and it finished 25 feet from the hole.
Seve Ballesteros, the Spanish genius, couldn’t have hit a better shot and if you’d seen him hit it, it’d have been a memory for a lifetime. That, of course, was the promise of Ballesteros. Every time you watched him there would be “that shot”, even in the dark days after he lost his beautiful game.
Two putts for a five was good enough for a half and the match went to the long and testing par-5 ninth.
Michelle drove left into the bunker, chopped it out with an 8-iron and left a 4-wood 10m short of the green, but a full 50 paces from the hole cut way back in the new and bigger green.
Olivia’s third, a middle iron, found the front of the front right bunker, maybe 40m from the hole. Michelle pitched 20 feet long and only a shambolic finish was going to cost Olivia the match now. But we’ve seen our fair share of chaotic golf this season, so there was still some reason for hope.
Instead, Olivia’s ball came out perfectly from the sand. It had the right sound, the perfect flight and it was, from the very beginning, clearly judged perfectly.
It landed 20 feet short of the hole and ran like a putt the rest of the way until it fell in.
Two “Seve shots” in two holes was truly magical golf and a reminder you never know when you might see something on the golf course that really turns your head.