My First Golf Tournament – the long version
Undoubtable Tuesday April 15, 2014 at Bandon Dunes will go down in my life history as a watershed event; but, as in much of life, it was only the front bookend of the aphorism “PRIDE GOETH BEFORE THE FALL”.
Several of you were there as the long story, which began with my first golfing years with Don Hamilton at Fort Eustis in 1959, ended Chapter One that April day at the Bandon Dunes course itself. Said chapter being the one titled “All Agree Greeve Can’t Play Worth a Shit”.
All of you addressed herein (Susan please pass a hard copy to John) have shown over 56 years of patience, forebearance, composure, tolerance, and indeed, yes even sufferance, that you epitomize the concept of friendship. And it did take God’s own patience as I played from 1959 until 2011 with out ever breaking 100; 52 years – a sad, sad tale. And through it all I tried to learn from each of you as you generously gave me advice, support, and encouragement and stuck with me until I finally broke 100. That breakthrough was on a lovely day in about May 2011 at the Willamette Valley Country Club with, I believe, Roy Coppinger, Mike Barton, and John Miner. And then a year or so later I broke 100 again with that wonderful fellow John Junker at his home course at The Biltmore in Scottsdale. And then at Bandon last April you added to the gifts of support and encouragement etc. that most pleasant present: REAL MONEY!
Oh, and also, led by Mr.’s Miner and Pittman, you gave suggestions for the title of Chapter Two to wit: “A Sandbagger and a Liar”.
Now some have said my Bandon breakthroughwas tainted by too generous a gimme by Ahbi or unfairly driven by Bandon’s best caddie and my special pal Nevin, BUT the score was carded, bets were paid and so it stands.
So over the last six months, since I carded that lovely 93 on that crystal clear day on the cliffs above the magnificent Pacific Ocean, I continued to play a game or so ever month where I was
able to break 100; Waverley, Ghost, Portland all fell before the onslaught of my deadeye 9 iron.
So as my, what other word is it than, HUBRIS, grew and grew, ultimately to resemble nothing as much as a 350 pound sun baked pumpkin (a sickening orangutang orange with skin flawed with dirt and scars containing nothing but shreds, pulp, seeds and HOT AIR), I began to dream of taking my 25 index and going out to win some real swag.
When Ghost Creek announced their “Ghost Pass Holders Autumn Classic Gross and Net Stroke Tournament At Witch Hollow” I said to myself “this is it” “this is where I will win some REAL SWAG“, “won’t my colleagues and friends gaze in wonderment as I shoot a 97 and apply that 31 handicap and card a 66 net and am then awarded that Sterling Silver Wedding Cup”.. and to do it on the course where Tiger won his Third US Amateur Championship !! WOW.
So I pulled out my $125, registered for the Monday October 20th event, and immediately called Bill Sullivan, long time member and asked if he would host me for a warm up round. I was going to be in my first real golf tournament.
THE WARM UP:
…On Wednesday October 15, Bill and “Pete” took me out for a simple, no pressure walk through.
As the warm autumn breezes blew the oak leaves and cast moving, mottled shadows on the perfect greens, I started the day with 4 bogies and a double on the first five holes. Then a triple showed up and next a “4 over” on that long tree lined 526 yard 7th. But I was able to right the canoe and finished up the front 9 with 2 more bogies and 15 over. Well that seemed ok, I was warming up and if I shot 12 over on the back I’d break 100 and be well seasoned to proceed to the goal at the tournament.
Well to make a long story of the practice round short, I shot 67 on the back. I ended the day with two 10’s, two nines, four 7’s, 4 lost balls on # 13 and another 2 lost yellow Bridgestones as I failed to carry the first and then the second hazards on 18, and 118 total gross strokes.
Well shuck a duck!! What’s up with that??
After strategic tips and words of comfort and consolation from Bill and Pete I spent the weekend rationalizing the situation, studying the web site course layout (http://www.pumpkinridge.com/witch-hollow), analyzing each hole, remembering how Bill and Pete played them, and developing a plan based on eight “par opportunity” holes.
“Head for the bunket on 13”,
“play to be on in 2 but close on the par threes”
”keep right on 14”
“avoid those endless right traps on approaching 16”
“ a 4 is good on 5”
” aim for the yellow tree by the red tees on 18”
It was a good thing to get the bucket of water in the face. A wake up call of course.
Roy was right, Bill was right, John was right…WITCH IS HARDER.
THE BIG DAY!
With such a cold eyed, fact based approach, with thoughts from Cindy my coach still fresh in mind, I met up with old pal John Roman, hit the practice range 2 hours before tee off and worked up slowly, spending lots of time on the practice putting green.
WELL I am tired of writing this even 3 weeks later; I am listening to Jummy Buffet talking about Margarita’s and thinking how great it was to see him a couple of weeks ago with Chip & Ger-babes. Why don’t you have a cold one too?
“What happened?” you may ask – IF you are having a boring day!
Well Roy, who is a great friend and drove out in a power cart to give me inspiration and cheer at 7 & 8, can attest that nothing less than a Vietnamese Central Highland Monsoon Torrent blew in at the 6th. Obscuring the greens and covering them with casual water until we emerged at 10. So it was a hard day
But that is no excuse – hell, I was playing with a guy named Blake Darby who par’d 6,7,8 & 9 in the downpour ( he shot a 78, at least 12 pars and a birdy – I asked him what his index was and he said “I only play gross”).
And I did do better than last Thursday – i bettered my score on 8 of the holes.
I was 5 stokes better than the previous Thursday after 17. But I was not on track for the Silver Cup..no, I would merely be a typical pretty shitty day of Greeve’s Golf for my first tournament – but – on one of the toughest courses in the state
But then emerged out of the grey of another torrential down pour, after 4 double bogies in a row, the lovely but HOT tempered 18th.
In short on the 18th:
I lost 5 balls,
– 2 on the first hazard, 3 on the next.
I shot 17 ( the tournament worst recorded score on 18 apparently is 24)
I finished the round with 120 to be recorded as 112…my worst score in several years – HORRIBLE
Yuck… maxims having to do with horses to water and old dogs and new tricks come to mind
Well as punishment I think I will have my left knee cut out and replaced tomorrow and therefore will give up golf until next March or so.
BUT – I must tell you – all in all it was still a wonderful, wonderful day. It is hard to beat this game
think I’ll listen to Tampico Trauma again..great song
PS: snap shots from some of the wonderful golf trips with wonderful friends