Project Fairway: Can I make the cut for the County Am?

Spending the day on the golf course ranks right up there on many dads’ lists of the ideal activities for Father’s Day.

This past Sunday, for the first time in 20 years as a father, I joined the masses of dads on the course. With me that day were my three children — Matt (age 20), Evan (19) and Caroline (17) — as well as my 77-year-old father, Bob.

The motivation behind getting three generations of Overstreets out on Legion Memorial Golf Course for nine holes was threefold.

First off, I have always envisioned spending unfettered time on the links with my kids. This past Father’s Day provided us with that opportunity for the first time in a long while. My only regret is that we hadn’t done this on previous Father’s Days.

Truth be told, though, in the past, going out on the golf course with my three kids often turned into an exasperating experience for all of us. And so we stopped going.

They’re older now, but they still show signs of being less-than-focused when it comes to golf. They still tried to jump over the sand trap rather than go around. They vainly attempted to burn turf and leave skid marks as they drove the golf cart. And, the boys still made loud bodily noises in order to disrupt their sister when she attempted to drain a 10-foot putt.

So some things never change.

The other factor for getting out on the course was to walk and talk with my father. For some physiological reason, it’s easier to talk about important things going on in our lives when we’re walking. And it seems to be even more therapeutic for us males when we are tracking the flight of an errant shot and hacking out of the deep rough. Apparently golf provides some benefit to our cortisol level, taking us back to our caveman days when we searched out and killed prey, thus relieving stress.

With a club, nonetheless.

The third motivating factor for getting out and swinging the clubs for the first time in years was to officially kick off what is being called “Project Fairway.” Simply put, this is a self-imposed challenge to see whether I — a very average, 50-plus-year-old guy — can improve my golf game enough to qualify for the biggest golfing event in Snohomish County — The Snohomish County Amateur Championship, an event held every Memorial Day weekend at three different courses.

In order to qualify for the County Am in 2015, I will need at least a 20.8 handicap, which means that I have to be able to consistently shoot under 93 on a par-72 course.

On the surface this may seem to be a reasonable goal. But, let me give you a dose of my reality: It wasn’t until the last hole — a short par 3 — that I finally stared at the possibility of my first par. On that hole, with just 5 feet separating me from a minor, yet significant, milestone, I asked the kids to stop their bantering long enough for me to give this my full concentration. I addressed the ball with a slight bow, hummed “Om” under my breath and really focused.

To no avail.

I still ended up pulling the ball to the left and settling for a bogey.

Yes, the short game needs some serious triage work.

I didn’t record this round of golf for my handicap index since, for most of the evening, we played teams of two in a best-ball format. And it’s probably a good thing I didn’t complete a full round because if we had, my score would have been well above 100.

My efforts to qualify for the County Am will take me all over Snohomish County this summer. I plan on playing many of the local courses and getting expert tips from various club pros so that eventually my form and swing look and feel natural. If I practice four nights a week during the summer and play a full round every week during July and August, then maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to record scores that push my handicap into the low 20s.

And if that happens, perhaps September will provide me with enough early evenings where I can scoot out for a quick round and start seeing enough pars and bogeys appearing on my scorecard to make me a viable candidate to compete in the 2015 County Am.

The bonus is that my 19-year-old son, who is home from college this summer, says he wants to join me on the course whenever he can.

What more could a dad ask for?

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