Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The Greenbrier Preview

I didn't really watch much golf last weekend after my pick, Billy Horschel, took a left turn into Bogeyville on Saturday with a 79 and let's face it, the only people who are reading the FGR this holiday week are here to see my top five so they can decide who not to pick. And let's face it again, how are you going to predict the winner of a tournament where the defending champion is Ted Potter, Jr. and the year before that it was Scott Stallings when he was the tour's version of Ted Potter, Jr.? So instead, let's talk about the match my partner and I played last Sunday (have you no shame? . . . no, I don't but I'll make it up to you with the scenery).

Well that's not going
to be too distracting.
One of the few benefits of belonging to a club with about 7,000 golf members* is that you have enough players to put on a full sixty-four team match play tournament a la the Accenture. The four primary differences between our version and the pro version (aside from the quality of play) are (1) we play in two-person teams, (2) our event takes the entire season with one match played per month, (3) our matches are handicapped and (4) our field includes women (and that's a whole other FGR rant that we'll save for another day).** I have played in this event four times before this season with the same partner. We won it our first year after escaping a semifinal match where one of our opponents missed about a two-footer on the eighteenth hole to beat us. We lost in the semifinals on eighteen last year after we both missed birdie putts from inside eight feet (probably karma for not giving that putt four years ago but, if that's the case, it was worth it).

The other two years we were one and done. To demonstrate how much luck plays a role in this event, in one of those early exits we lost the second hole (the hardest on the course) to a net eagle when our 16 handicap opponent hit it about 280 yards down the middle, knocked an 9-iron to five feet and made the putt because you know, people eagle that hole all the time.***

Anyhoo, this year I picked-up a new partner for reasons that surprisingly had nothing to do with a falling-out between me and my old partner and we got off to a bit of a rocky start when our 16 handicap opponent made a net birdie on the first hole by getting up and down from 100 yards out. Then on the second hole, my partner (with a stroke) hit a 200 yard 5-iron from the middle of the first fairway, across the second fairway and onto the third tee box which would have been ok but for the road that separates the second and third hole. Not to worry, however, as I calmly knocked the ball on the middle of the green and then calmly three-putted from about 25 feet to lose it.

"Two down crossing the road is
no way to go through life son."
When I birdied the third hole, my partner correctly told me not to get too high on myself because we should have been even at that point. We did get even on five, took the lead when we both birdied six and then lost seven to a net birdie even though the hole is a 330 yard par 4. Losing to a net birdie on that hole is like getting a kick in the shin . . . by Chuck Norris. I lipped-out for birdie on eight and my partner made a nice four footer for par on nine so we made the turn at even.

Our opponents imploded on the tenth hole and then we were at a stalemate on and around the eleventh green when the skies opened-up and we had to take it in for about a one hour rain delay. Fortunately, someone on the course had made a hole-in-one so hey . . . free Transfusions for everyone. (The other benefit of having 7,000 members is that there is a hole-in-one nearly every freakin' day). When we finally got back out, we halved eleven and then I gave away twelve when I gagged a four footer for par. I redeemed myself by being the only one to hit  the green and par the thirteenth (don't worry, this isn't really going anywhere, I'm just blissfully typing away at this point).

We won fourteen and fifteen to go three up with three to play. Then I birdied sixteen and it was over. . .  except that I had just gotten back to two over and, if I could birdie-in, I'd shoot even par on my home course for the first time. Oh yeah, it also dawned on me at about that point that I had hit every fairway (Jinx Factor: High). When I two-putted the seventeenth for a par, I was left needing to hole-out on eighteen to shoot 70 (now I wouldn't drag you all the way to this point for no payoff . . . would I?).

I split the fairway on eighteen meaning that I had hit every one and frankly, I should have been flirting with 68 not 70 (remember the &$#*@ putting issues on two and twelve). I had the same knockdown 9-iron that I had hit stiff on the six hole so I was actually thinking I had a legitimate shot at this . . . until I pulled it left of the green, hit a sloppy chip and made bogey for 73 (sorry, no eagle on eighteen this week folks . . . thanks for coming).

Why do I tell this completely self-serving story? Because last week I caught a tweet from a fairly established golf writer that said, "yesterday I needed an 8 on the 18th hole to break 100 for the first time ever. I got a 10." That really bothered me because, for some reason, I think that golf is different than other sports and that to write about it you need to have experienced at least a taste of what it feels like to play for something other than just trying to break 100. You need to have had that experience of seeing your ball roll by the cup on 18 and take your chance of forcing a playoff with it. Anguish is relative and I will never know what it feels like to be Phil Mickelson after letting another U.S. Open slip away but I'm sure Phil has spent many a night staring at the ceiling and asking himself why he hit pitching wedge instead of gap wedge on the thirteenth hole and, believe me, I know exactly what that feels like.
In honor of Graham DeLaet's first
FGR mention, this is Canada's own
Grace Park who also shares her name
with a pro golfer. How convenient. 

The Greenbrier Top Five

1. Webb Simpson
2. Graham DeLaet
3. Charlie Wi
4. Jimmy Walker
5. Russell Henley

Last Week's Report Card: D-

1. Jason Day - T21
2. Billy Horschel - T61
3. Adam Scott - T57
4. Jimmy Walker - M/C
5. Bo Van Pelt - M/C

Last Week's Report Card bears an eerie resemblance to the one I received in the second semester of my freshman year of college. On the "FGR to College Grade Conversion Chart, "M/C's" would represent D's.

Endnotes

* We don't really have 7,000 members. It just seems that way when you're trying to get a tee time. On the other hand, if you can't find someone to play with at a club that big, you might want to speed-up your pre-shot routine . . . or switch deodorants.

"Call me."
** I will answer the obvious question, "how can they make the matches fair between men and women?" They can't.

*** Our second hole has served as the closing hole for the Senior Players Championship and even from the white tees it's about 430 yards with out of bounds left, trees on the right and a green more suited to a 130 yard par-3. Making birdie on that hole is like putting on your blue blazer, reaching into the inside pocket and finding a hundred dollar bill . . . and Olivia Munn's phone number.

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