Play it as it lies

You don’t normally make a connection between golf and bike racing. You can actually drink beer and smoke cigars while playing golf. I’ve never seen that while cycling (well, I’ve heard about those crazy mountain bikers).

But last weekend the combination of bike racing and the U.S. Open tournament got me thinking …

Saturday evening I flipped on the TV and found the 3rd round of the U.S. Open still going on. Tiger Woods’ ball was in some deep rough – you couldn’t even see it. He proceeded to chip it out of the rough and right into the hole.

One of the main principles in golf is that you “play it as it lies”. Your ball may end up behind a tree, or buried in deep grass. Wherever the ball lies, that’s where you have to play it. So you must constantly adjust your game and make the best of whatever the situation. You may have made a perfect shot only to find it in someone’s old divot.

Move forward to the next day and to a different sport: the Rick Gorzynski Memorial Time Trial at Presque Isle State Park. I was using this as preparation for the state championships the following week, and was aiming to break 26:00 for the 12.5 mile course.

Halfway through the race, I knew I was having a good ride and was on track to break 26:00.

Then at mile 8, a course marshal let a truck pull out onto the course, blocking the entire road. As I came around a bend, I saw the truck. I yelled but he didn’t move. My only option was to go off the road to the left, though some gravel, then back on the road again. I heard the marshal meekly say “sorry” as I went by.

My rhythm was completely broken, and my good ride was now going bad. Oddly, I flashed on Tiger Woods holing out his shot from the rough. The best thing I could do was to deal with the situation and resist the temptation to turn around and ask the marshal, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???”

It took a mile to get up to speed again. From there I tried to go as hard as I could without completely blowing up. I missed breaking 26:00 by 3 seconds, but still managed 2nd overall.

Another principle in golf is that you report your scores accurately. When playing in a tournament, signing an incorrect scorecard gets you disqualified (even if the mistake was unintentional). But anyone who’s played surely knows that people often don’t count a stroke, or take a “Mulligan”.

So the biggest props of the day go to Glen Snyder of the UPMC team. I did a cool-down lap with him after the race, and he told me his time was 26:33. When the results went up, they showed him at 25:33 — an awesome time. He knew this was wrong, and he reported it to the officials. Sure enough, they had his starting time a minute later than it was. I think many riders would have just let that result stand, saying they “felt really good” that day.

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