Ben DeArmond was probably really excited for a long time leading up to the first round of last week's Web.com Tour Lecom Suncoast Classic at Lakewood National outside Sarasota, Fla.
Then came an episode out of "Tin Cup." DeArmond made a 17 on the second hole of the tournament, depositing two full sleeves' worth of ammunition into a pond, en route to a first-round 91.
"I couldn't get it up in the air even with a 5-iron, so I'm not used to that." DeArmond told ESPN's Bob Harig, Golf Channel's Brentley Romine and others after the round. "Just went a little numb. But we got through it, had a good back nine. So I'll be back tomorrow."
The South Florida PGA member recovered somewhat with a 78 in the second round, which included a bogey on his new nemesis hole, but he ended up finishing last in the field, missing the cut by 30 strokes.
Chances are Ben will feel pretty silly about the whole thing for a while, but given his positive attitude, he seems to know he's not the first golfer to hang a crooked number on a scorecard, and he won't be the last. Anyone seriously making fun of his "out-of-body experience" has probably never played competitive golf. They can go drop their opinions in that lake along with those pristine golf balls of his.
Kevin Na, for example, is right up there in the annals of single-hole futility. Na made a 16 on the ninth hole of TPC San Antonio's AT&T Oaks Course back in 2011. That he carded an 80 for the round means he played the other 17 holes in an impressive four-under par.
So DeArmond has Na beat. But he's not the record holder in professional golf (he is the Web.com Tour record holder, however). That would be Tommy Armour, "Silver Scot" and three-time major champion. Safe to say that the 1927 Shawnee Open was one that got away, though. Armour made a 23 on the 17th hole at Shawnee Country Club during one of the rounds.
Back in the world of competitive golf away from TV cameras, ask anyone and you'll hear some kind of embarrassing blowup story. My own comes from my freshman year of high school. During an 18-hole match at the nine-hole Hotchkiss School Golf Course, I played the par-5 ninth hole in 20 strokes for the day, carding an 11 and a 9 on my two times through. The elevated tee shot with out-of-bounds on both sides psyched me out, and I pumped duck-hook after flailing duck-hook into the white-staked woods. I played the other 16 holes four-over, shooting 84. I'll never forget that feeling of helplessness. In an instant it felt like my body had been replaced with that of someone who had never swung a golf club before.
But the craziest scorecard I've ever seen comes from my esteemed Golf Advisor colleague Mike Bailey, in a qualifying round for the 2017 Houston Senior City Amateur. Mike also shot 84, but it is ten times as crazy as my 84 from high school.
Behold the majesty of Mike's crazy card:
Bailey, who started on the 10th hole, said the hole-in-one "was the first of my life, a pitching wedge from 135. It started an eagle-birdie-birdie run. Went from an extreme high to a subdued low. Honestly, as long as I’ve been playing golf, I’ve had up and down rounds, but never anything like this. After I made the 10, I felt like I was going to have to make a couple of birdies coming in to qualify, but I had started doubting myself. Not a good combination."
"In the end," Bailey said, "I just rationalized the whole thing by realizing there was nothing I could do about it except learn from it. I probably never will, of course."
Spoken like a true golfer.
And so, brave Ben DeArmond, we stand with you in solidarity for your crooked number last week. All of us who have played competitive golf know that out-of-control feeling.