Finale by Sara Veara

I step up to my ball. I can feel the sweat dripping down my back and face. I take one deep breath and start my swing. I am telling myself to just stay calm and swing easy as I feel my hands start to tremble. I got to the top of my backswing and my jitters faded away and were replaced with the sound of driver meeting ball  THWAP! My club makes contact with the ball. I watch it soar through the air down the center of the fairway. 

I make my way up the fairway to where my ball rests behind a tree. I assess the situation carefully and create my plan of attack. I decide to lay low and punch out from under the tree. I am only about twenty yards from the green. I line up my shot and make contact with the ball. It hits into a bank short of the green and bounces up onto the green about fifteen feet from the hole. I go up to look at my putt and decide how the green is going to roll, how hard it is going to break, and how hard or soft I should hit it. Finally, I get my line and my speed, and I strike the ball. It gets closer and closer to the hole, and it looks like I have it read perfectly and that it is going in. At the last second, the putt breaks severely to the left and falls below the hole. I walk up and tap my ball into the hole. The first hole is done, only seventeen more to go. 

            The next few holes go well. I was hitting greens, making putts, and scoring. I finish out on the third hole. My nerves start to brew inside of me, and my brain is suddenly swarmed with all the possible things that could go wrong on this upcoming hole. Hole number four, a 500 yard par five, with the highway all up the right side, and a large ravine to the left. I tee off second to last. After talking it over in my head, I decide to play it safe and hit a hybrid. I tee the ball up, line up my shot, step up to the ball, and the bad thoughts take over. I proceed to chunk my tee shot. I barely made it over the ditch that crossed in front of the tee box. I didn’t even make it to the fairway. I shake my head in disbelief and approach my ball; I have little to no faith left in myself. I thought it was over. I grab my seven iron out of my bag and line up my shot. I take a big deep breath and exhale slowly. I make contact with the ball, and it soars 150 yards up the center. My faith is restored. I finish the hole with a bogey and walk off the green with a smile on my face. 

            I make conversation with the other three girls in my group as we walk to the fifth tee. This hole is a 145 yard par three. After careful consideration, I made the decision to hit a full eight. I strike the ball almost perfectly, and watch it fly up towards the hole. It hits on the green, and rolls right next to the hole. I wander up to the green and analyze my putt. I decide that it is going to break slightly right to left. I set my ball down on the green, and point the writing on the ball in the direction of my intended line. I stand up and back away to take one more look at it. I missed my putt. I walk up, disappointed, and tap it in. I move onto the next hole feeling good about my game. However, fear may hold me back from fully committing to some of my shots. 

           I play the next few holes, and I play the holes perfectly. I am now on a par streak. I am calm and collected, for now. I finished the front nine with  a score of 38, two over par. As my fellow competitors and I made our way to the tenth tee, I started thinking of my plan of attack for the back nine.   It was at this point that I realized how well I was playing. I may have let it go to my head a little too much as I chunk my next tee shot. I walk up and look at my next shot and try to decide what club to hit and how to hit it. I make my decision, but I flub the shot leaving me with a 30 foot putt to save par. I step up to the putt, strike the ball, and watch it roll over the green. I watch it break, turn, and roll  as it nears the hole I think to myself, “this could be really good”. I stand there in disbelief as I watch my ball go in the hole and come back out. I am now one over going into the back nine, and my confidence diminishes. 

In front of me, I am now faced with the most terrifying holes on this golf course. A par four that you have to hit and carry 100 yards at the minimum over a daunting ravine onto a postage stamp green. I snap my tee shot over to the left. Now the jitters come back, and I can barely hold onto the club. Despite my lack of confidence in myself, I managed to get my ball over and onto the green. I proceed to three putt and I take a six on the hole. Disappointed and down on myself, I move onto the next hole that torments my mental side of the game.  A par three with a two-tiered green and severe slope downwards, I am trying to calm myself as I approach my ball. I hit my ball and placed myself in perfect position. I miss my birdie putt, but I come back and sink the next one. With that putt, my confidence was restored once again as I moved onto the next few holes.  

The next hole moves smoothly. On the 14th hole, I do not strike the ball as I intended to off the tee. I approach my ball, line up my shot, and plan to hit a long low punch out from under the branches. I pop it up into the tree and I am thinking in my head “oh shit”. My ball flies through the branches, bounces from one side of the stream to the other, and rolls onto the green about 20 feet away. I did not breathe for about a minute after that shot. I walk up and take my par and move on. The next few holes go according to plan. Finally, we cross back over to the other side of the road and I am faced with the most intimidating part of this game. The final hole. 

The 18th hole may be one of the longest holes on the course even though it is only 305 yards in length from tee to hole. I decided to hit a hybrid off of the tee. I pull it left into a tree and it comes straight down in the thick rough. I look at my lie and the obstacles in front of me and decide how to go about hitting this next shot.  I grabbed a wedge out of my bag and put myself in the center of the fairway with 121 left to the pin. Then, it is my nine iron I pull from my bag, and I take a swing at it. I make the hike around the pond to the green. As I am walking up I am thinking, “All you have to do is get it close and tap it in”, as I had about a 55 footer. I did exactly what I planned to do. I misread my bogey putt, and I took my first double of the day on the very last hole. 

As I was walking off the green, I had no idea why everyone was cheering for me. I was so lost and confused. I had one goal in mind walking off that green. I had to pee. I make my way to the bathroom. When I came back out, they started the awards. They announce second place. The girl who got second was the girl to beat. I was shocked when they called her name. I looked at my dad who was standing next to me and said,

“Did I win?”

“Did you…” my dad looked at me with a grin and said. They announced my name that I had won and shot a 77. I had no idea that I was going to shoot in the 70’s. I walked up and recieved my trophy. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe that I would win the finale at The Greenbrier. It was a day that I will never forget and a day that I learned a lot about myself as a golfer and a person.

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