Meditation: Deserve

Deserve is a word that we hear many times, during the course of a day. The word deserve means to have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have. Most of the times the word is used when somebody receives an award, and comments are made, whether he deserved the award, or not. When it comes time for the Oscars, there are movies that people feel deserve or did not deserve a nomination. The word is not always used in positive situations. Sometimes when bad things happen to people, someone might comment they deserved it. We all have had this experience when watching a movie, the villain, or vile person, gets his just due, in the end of the movie. We are all satisfied with that ending, because he deserved it. When a person commits a crime, they deserve to go to jail. This is not the way we are supposed to feel when something bad, or serious happens to another person, but it is still pretty harmless. In fact, it is often fun to debate who deserves what. On the smaller stage of life, we see people have opinions on whether or not someone deserved a promotion, or the new job they are pursuing. People will comment on another person’s new relationship, if it seems to be going well, as something they deserve. As long as a person applies deserve to another person or thing, then this process can be, for the most part, not a major problem, in one’s own psyche. It’s when deserve starts to be a way they describe their own life, that problems can arise.

It’s when you start thinking, that you deserve a better job, a new promotion, a better relationship, or just a better way of life in general, that can have a negative impact on your life. This thinking can spiral into a worse situation if you start perceiving that you deserve any of the bad things, that may be happening. We all feel there are times when we can do better, in dealing with other people, and ourselves, but this does not mean, that we are a bad person and deserve the results, when things go wrong. When you look up synonyms for the word deserve, you will find entitled. When people say they are entitled, this can bring quite a negative response. Maybe the word deserve should have more of a negative connotation. Is there anything that is good or bad, that we actually deserve. Just because you work hard, and do all the right things, is not going to guarantee success, or a monetary reward. Luck is always going to be a factor in life. Do we all deserve to be lucky? I think the answer lies at the end of movie The Unforgiven. The sheriff is about to get his head blown off by Clint Eastwood and says that he does not deserve to die like this. Eastwood’s characters reply is “Deserves got nothing to do with it”. That statement can be applied to every action and result in life, deserve has nothing to do with it. We need to get into that mode when dealing with deserve. It is just an opinion and it needs to be vanquished, from our own lives, if we want to have contentment. The reason for doing anything is for our own self satisfaction and peace. To do this, we need to remove deserve from the middle of our minds.

Golf: Stories, The 70’s

As far as golf was the concerned, the 70’s started out with a bang. In June of 1970, in a tournament called the Bernhardts, held at Oglebay Park, in a pea soup fog, I recorded my second hole in one. It was the 2ond hole, an 180 yard par 3, and all I knew from our caddies was that the pin was in the middle of the green. There was a tournament official at the green, who would just yell out, when it was ok to hit. I thought I had hit a pretty good shot, but one of the other players in the group, thought I had gone a little left. After we had all hit, we barely got off the tee box, when my caddie came bursting out of the fog, yelling it’s in the hole, it’s in the hole. My first hole in one, I did not get to take out of the hole because the people up on the green did, who had let me hit, and, of course, my second hole in one, I never even saw. In 1971, I played probably my best round of golf in a tournament. It was my first week of veterinary school, and I had not touch a club all week. This was a tournament, that was supposed to be a 36 hole, two day event, the first weekend in June, at Wheeling Park. It rained the entire weekend, and they rescheduled it for 18 holes, on the last Saturday in June. I drove home late Friday afternoon, and got home around 6:30, and immediately drove up to Mazeroski Golf Course, to get a quick nine in. For whatever reason, I just had this really good rhythm, and I played the first 6 holes 1 under par, and since the 6th hole is close to the clubhouse, I walked in, and went home. Wheeling Park is a short 9 hole course, with 7 par 4’s, and 2 par 3’s for a par of 34. Naturally, for the tournament you play each 9 twice. The next, day I had that same great rhythm, and shot a 2 under 66, to finish in a tie for second, one shot out of the lead. That was my last great hurrah for the seventies as life took over.

I got married, graduated from veterinary school in 75, and had my only child in 1977, in fact she was born on 7-7-77, a date I will be able to remember, even when I am senile. While in vet school, I played the Scarlett and the Gray courses, mostly the Gray because it was not as crowded, since it was not as renowned as the Scarlett. Both courses were great to play, when I was in school and it was a nice break from the grind. When you played the Scarlett, you often thought of all the shots that Jack Nicklaus hit some 15 to 18 years before, when he was at OSU. I moved to Pittsburgh in 1975, and I have been here ever since. As the 70’s came to a close, golf was definitely taking a backseat to my veterinary career, and family life. However, I was still playing about once per week, and in 1976, I would have my first of many experiences at South Park, the county course, in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. The first time I went to the course, I did not even play. I arrived at about 8:45 on a misty cold April morning, and when I walked up to the clubhouse by the first tee, I looked down and saw at least 30 to 40 people milling around. I immediately turned around, and went home. I told my wife, they must be having a tournament there, to have so many people, on such a lousy morning. I went back a week later at the same time, and the situation was exactly the same. The weather was a little better, but it was a mob scene at the first tee. I then decided to see what was going on. I went to the starter booth, and he told me it was like this every day. He told me, since I was a single, he should be able to get me out, in about a half an hour. Back in those days, the senior pass, for 60 and over, was only $40 dollars, and you could play Monday through Friday anytime, and everybody walked, to avoid the cart fee. The starter was right and I hooked up with these three guys who I still see today every once in awhile. I only remember the first 3 holes of that round, and here is the reason why. I bogied the first two holes, which are really easy par 4’s, particularly number one. The third hole is a par 5, and I really hit a good drive, which gave me a possible chance of reaching the green in two. I took a mighty swing with my 3 wood, and topped the ball right off to the left. It is one of those shots, that if you did not know better, you would have thought the ball went right between your legs. Now, I was about 180 yards from the green on the left side of the fairway. I took out my 3 iron (remember those) and hit it very well, and it scooted up the hill and right on to the green. It was a very nice shot. In fact, it was more than a very nice shot, because the ball went right into the hole for an eagle. How about that sport fans. I don’t remember anything else about the round, but that 3rd shot, on the 3rd hole, the very first time I played it, I will always remember. It was shortly after that round, about 4 weeks later, that I met up with the guys that I would play with, once a week at South Park, for the next 18 years. I enjoyed many a round with these guys, but those stories belong in the 80’s. I started my own practice in November of 1978 and that became the focus of my attention for next 26 years. Golf would have its ups and downs as we headed into the 80’s.

Golf: D. J. Dominates

Dustin Johnson wins the November Masters, with a dominating performance and breaks the tournament record by two shots, with a final score, of 20 under 268. I thought the scoring record would be intact, but the soft conditions, and the overall lack of wind, were bigger factors, than the strangeness of no crowds, and the long shadows. Johnson’s performance was complete. He drove the ball extremely well, and putted better than anybody in the field. He may have not had the best putting statistics, but what he did better than anybody else, was leave himself no stress second putts. His speed was impeccable. Johnson plays very quickly for all his shots, until he gets to the green, and then he takes more time to read a putt, than any player on tour. His routine is exactly the same on every putt, and with his new putting mechanics, this is the best he has putted in his career. The other big difference with D. J.’s game, is he does not seem to hit the really wild drive, that cost him in some previous majors. In a way, this Masters, was Johnson’s own kind of redemption, for a lot of heartbreak, in past majors. It was nice to see him win, with a complete performance, that left little doubt down the stretch, right now, he is the best player in the world. My four picks who I thought would do well did ok, with Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm finishing in the top 10. Rahm is going to have to figure out, how not to hit the horrible shot. The grounder on 8 in the third round that led to the double bogey cost him any real chance of putting some heat on D. J. For Koepka, he played well, but did not have that major championship putting, that he has had in the past. I thought Phil would do well, and for 2 rounds he was looking good until he went completely brain dead in the third round, and shot 79. Is it possible to be senile at 50? Collin Murikawa never could get untracked and barely made the cut. Tiger did better than I expected and played really well. His putter really let him down. In the second round on Saturday, he hit a horrible putt on 17, that cost him a birdie on one of the harder holes on the course. If he could have made some putts, he may have contended until the end, back issues not with standing. Then there was good old Bryson, and just like I predicted the ghosts of Augusta took care of him. After his lost ball he was never a factor. I think it was Bobby Jones himself, that intervened there. Now for some unrelated random thoughts on this November Masters, that was like no other, even before it started.

Many scoring records did fall but I am willing to bet that Corey Conners may have set a different kind of record. Who is Corey Conners? You do not want to ask that question to CBS. Corey finished in the top 10 at the Masters. He may have been on TV less than any player in history who finished in the top 10 in a major. I really do not remember seeing him at all. For a man who never misses, Abraham Ancer missed a lot of short putts. The one on 11 in the third round was unbelievable, which in my view ended his chances. There was this contrast, watching the best players in the world. On one side of the coin, you saw some of the most unbelievable short game shots, ranging from chips, pitches, and bunker play, only to see a lot of missed putts. It makes what D. J. did on the greens, even more impressive. Thanks to Justin Thomas, another player who did not putt well, we now know, how frustrating mud is on the ball. Then there’s Cameron Smith, who finished tied for second, with the help of some of the greatest recovery shots in the history of the Masters. The only player in history, to shoot all four rounds in the sixties. But come on Cameron, the facial hair has got to go. Your so call mustache, looks like you left hair remover on you upper lip. Just face the fact, that even though your 27, you look like you just graduated from high school. The facial hair and curls coming out the back of your hat do not help. When I graduated from veterinary school, I went through the same thing. On one of my first job interviews, I went in, introduced myself, and they thought I was there for the kennel boy job. I had to tell them I was interviewing for the doctor’s position. I was 25 at the time. This Masters may not go down as one of the great one’s of all time, but it was great to see Dustin Johnson win going away. After many setbacks it was nice to see his childhood dream come true.

Golf: The Masters

The Masters is here at last. Having the Masters in November will be unique, and having no fans, to speak of, will be really weird to say the least. There are lots questions going into this Masters, not the least of which is, will bulked up Bryson DeChambeau turn Augusta National into nothing more than a pitch and putt course, and shoot 23 under to smash the tournament record by 5 shots? I wonder what Bryson does to bulk up his head, just saying. Can Tiger pull another miracle? Augusta National has been shown to inspire the old veteran. Nicklaus won when he was 46, in 1986. Ben Hogan shot a back nine 30 in the 3rd round of the 1967 Masters, at age 54, and was in contention, until a Sunday score of 77, placed him in a tie for tenth with Sam Snead, who was also 54. I think both Bryson and Tiger will have trouble with this version of Augusta. The Masters has been a tournament of redemption for some. Tommy Aaron, who made the scoring error that cost Roberto Di Vicenzo the 1968 Masters, won in 1973. Charles Coody who finished with 3 bogies to lose the 1969 Masters, came back and won it in 1971. Gay Brewer missed a 5 foot putt on the final hole, to send the 1966 Masters into a 3 man playoff, that Jack Nicklaus won. The next year Brewer won the Masters. Some players have had nothing but heartbreak at Augusta. Greg Norman just could not win it. He bogeyed the last hole in 1986 to allow Nicklaus to win his 6th green jacket. He fell victim to the miraculous pitch in of Larry Mize in the Masters playoff in 1987 on number 11. In 1996, he blew a 6 shot lead in the final round to lose to Nick Faldo by 5 shots. We mentioned the signing of the wrong score by De Vicenzo. De Vicenzo would not come close again. Ed Sneed bogied the last 3 holes in 1979 and then went on to lose the playoff to Fuzzy Zoeller. Heartbreak is rampant at Augusta, even for people with Green Jackets. Arnold Palmer double bogied the last hole to give the tournament to Gary Player in 1961. Most recent was the Jorden Spieth debacle in the 2018 Masters, where he thought the water was the green on the par 3 12th and made a 7 to lose by only 2 shots.

A November Masters will put another chapter in the long history of Augusta National. One of the big differences is that it will be short on daylight. The final round, which still will be televised by CBS despite pro football is scheduled to conclude at 3pm. Saturday’s coverage is set to conclude at noon. It will be like watching the British Open. So what is going to happen. Will scoring records fall left and right? Will Bryson put it in the lake on 11, with his drive? Will somebody win their first major? Could one of the really old guard pull off the big victory? Before I discuss what I think will happen here is what I think won’t happen. No scoring records will be broken. I think that the whole feel of the place will be so weird, that it will have a negative effect on the scoring. Tiger will not win. I wish he would but I do not see it. Bryson will not win because the ghosts of Augusta will not let it happen. Yes, I believe in ghosts, spirits, whatever the hell you want to call it. I think Phil will contend. I would even say he has a good shot at winning. The 280 score will prevail. The greens are going to be murder. You might see a record for 4 putts. My top three picks beside Phil. Jon Rahm, the par 3 skipping the water hole in one could have been an omen. Colin Morikawa, his swing just looks so good. Brooks Koepka, because its a major and for whatever reason he plays them well. I will blog again at the halfway point on Friday night. Its time to get ready and enjoy the Masters.