How to shoot a truly high score at Pebble Beach without leaving Syracuse, N.Y.

The virtual golf center at Destiny USA includes projector-on-a-wall TV for sports viewing and the 19th hole, too.

The virtual golf center at Destiny USA includes a projector-on-a-wall for sports viewing and the 19th hole, too.

I loosened up the old golf swing this week.

The temperature was at zero when I pulled out of my driveway for the trip to the Syracuse, N.Y., mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA.

I had wisely, I thought, moved my clubs from the back porch into the house some 10 hours earlier to allow them to thaw.

Didn’t matter.

When I was knocking the little white ball off the tee at OptiGolf for a 7 p.m. tee time, my golf game was still on ice.

My great friend Kingpin had given me a gift card to the virtual golf emporium for my December birthday. The card said he wanted to continue our tradition of a mid-winter session in front of the big screen to make the offseason seem that much shorter for us.

Last year, I had chosen Congressional, the U.S. Open-worthy course in our nation’s capital, to start our tradition. This week, KP carefully read the book — yes, book — of available world’s-greatest-courses while we sipped on our beers after the short warm-up session. I piped in. We decided on Pebble Beach, the also-U.S. Open-worthy layout on the Monterey Peninsula.

We played nine holes.

I shot not only a ton, but a ton-and-a-half. On one hole, I hit the ball into the make-believe Pacific Ocean so many times that the computer told me I was going to pick up for an 11.

Yes, the virtual Pebble Beach was realistic. My familiar golf game was no match.

My drives were too short. They rolled into fairway bunkers often. My approaches were too wide. They rolled into greenside bunkers even more often.

KP did a ton better.

Kingpin and I enjoyed a winter round of golf at the virtual Pebble Beach of OptiGolf.

Kingpin and I enjoyed a winter round of golf at the virtual Pebble Beach of OptiGolf.

We had fun. I did mention that the Jack Nicklaus-level deal included a beer, did I not?

Part two of the continued tradition included dinner at the TGIF’s across the hallway.

When I used to work at the big daily, I got to see KP every day.

This time, we hadn’t seen each other since our last outdoor round, in October.

After 31 years of friendship, it’s easy to pick right up with talk about life.

You know how it is, if you’re lucky. Serious comments. Jokes. Opinions. Suggestions.

This time, he reminded me how the 30-year anniversary of the awful night that the house that included his apartment burned down in East Syracuse was approaching. I brought up how I felt as if I was struck in the head with a mallet when editor-in-chief’s assistant Roberta told me the news when I moseyed into work around noon the following morning. I told her that only 10 hours had passed since we had departed the restaurant where we’d completed our odd routine of beers in the N&H and eggs at Garfield’s after leaving work post-midnight.

We jumped three decades and talked about how I’ve added this blog and my paid work blogging about film for and the community for

His oldest daughter is in her senior year at RIT and his youngest is in the fifth grade. Frankie is still dating Kenny, the Mets fan from Long Island. My daughter is still working at the orthopedists’ office in Hamilton. Elisabeth is still dating
George, the Maple Leafs fan from Baldwinsville.

The steak, burger and second draft warmed us with the conversation.

When I pulled back into my driveway and took the below photo of my clubs against the dash, the temperature had fallen to four-below.

My golf clubs and a temperature reading of minus-4.

My golf clubs on the seat, PGA Tour golf channel on XM and a temperature reading of minus-4. Winter in Syracuse.

18 thoughts on “How to shoot a truly high score at Pebble Beach without leaving Syracuse, N.Y.

  1. How many times did KP use his footwedge??
    We’ll have to hook up at the Pines someday for some virtual…Oak Hill East course again…yum yum!


  2. what an awesome gift from a friend who clearly loves you and knows you well. no worries about the bad game, it’s all the stuff with your friend that really mattered. there’s always time for another game when the temp gets into the double digits ) great post, mark –


  3. That was an awesome story! Don’t worry, the virtual games get to me too. When they’re wrong, they’re no fun and I still loose. When they’re right, I lose because I can’t get the game in reality. It’s a lose lose either way. But at least you had a good friend to talk to and catch up with over good food and a couple of beers.

    As for the cold, it’s -2 right now here, so I feel your pain. Brrr!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.