It's one of my favorite aspects of golf: envisioning the shot you want to hit and then magically pulling it off.
No. 2 at Porter Valley Country Club is no stroll across the fairway.
The hole literally wraps around a mountain: 220 yards in front of the tee box spans a wide, deep, pure-white bunker. A fence like something out of The Shawshank Redemption runs along the left side of the hole, meaning automatic OB. Beyond the bunker is simply a mistake because there is a massive tree with branches for days, leaving an impossible second shot.
To the right is the promised land.
This hole epitomizes the blind tee shot, or what I refer to as the old "swing and pray you find your ball" hole.
I’m a lefty. 6’3. 185 pounds. I revel in a purely struck golf shot; it’s the crisp sound of contact intertwined with the next sight of the ball soaring high in the air that keeps bringing me back (even after the 3-putts and sh***s).
This was one of those shots.
One of those shots where I felt like a pro.
You know, like when Tiger pummels a drive down the fairway at Doral and immediately begins walking with the ball in mid-air, totally confident in where it will land.
This hole is 413 yards. I pulled my trusty three-iron to dispatch this giant. I used to fear the three-iron, but over the last year, as I have learned to control my distance and accuracy, its become my go-to club off the tee.
I aligned my Pro-V1X with the left edge of the monstrous mountain emerging from the right side of the fairway. I made a conscious effort in my pre-shot routine to bring back the club a little inside and really turn my hands over on my follow through in hopes of drawing the ball.
Then, after two smooth, deliberate practice swings, I stood behind my ball and imagined what this shot would look like. I refused to overanalyze the shot because as I had learned from years of competitive junior golf that such intense dissection of a golf shot tends to ruin the result.
It was simple. I had to trust my hands, trust my hips, but most of all, just believe that I could execute the shot.
Sure enough, it was gorgeous.
The moment after swinging through the ball, I was swept away by a tangible, crisp certainty.
Before the ball had reached its peak in the air, I had put my club away and was sighing in relief without a shadow of doubt.
The next time I encountered my ball, I was elated to find it 146 yards away directly in the middle of the fairway.
And what made it that much sweeter was that I planned it.
My round may not have been under par; may not have had under 30 putts; may not have had 15 greens in regulation.
But, that one shot remains an eradicable memory, reminding me of just how lucky I am to play this game.