Storming to the front of the pack with ugly bogeys on the last 2 holes, your Retired Golf Hack and his partner – Glenn (the Sheriff) Hudson- shot 74 to win the Closing Day Member Member Tournament at Cripple Creek. For those of you with good memories, you will recall that the Opening Day Member Member Tournament back in June of this year was won with a 70, posted by Harry Steele and myself. It doesn’t seem to matter who partners with your Hack does it?
Seriously, we had a beautiful day yesterday for the official closing day tournament at the club. The course was in great shape about 5 weeks after the Fall aeration and the greens were running fast. We had 104 players this year, the largest group ever according to our Head Pro, so we had a full tee sheet starting on both #1 and #10. Unfortunately, the size of the field and the difficulty of the course led to a 5 hour and 10 minute round – it was ugly out there.
Here’s how the tournament played – holes #1-6 were better ball of partners, holes #7-12 were alternate shot, and holes #13-18 were a scramble. The field had a Men’s and Women’s Division, further divided into flights based on team handicap. Technically, this is a Net Score tournament, but your Hack doesn’t play for Net prizes as you know. The Sheriff and I were in it to win the low gross score.
We started on #10 and had to play alternate shot right out of the shoot – you know – “never say you’re sorry golf”. I have to admit that I almost said “sorry” to my partner on the 10th green when I gunned our birdie putt about 8 feet past the hole – did I mention the greens were rolling pretty good? The Sheriff missed the comeback putt and just like that we were 1 over after the first hole of the day.
Fortunately, we settled down making easy pars on #12 and #13 – missing 15 and 12 foot birdies putts respectively – before abruptly shifting to the scramble portion of the match after only 3 holes. The Sheriff and I both hit the ball well during the the scramble, but couldn’t make any putts when we had birdie chances and couldn’t get the ball close enough to the hole when we had great opportunities. Rather than going low, we cruised through the 6 hole scramble making 5 pars in a row, leaving a couple of putts on the edge of the cup. Unfortunately, we made an ugly bogey on #18 after both of us missed the green left from 155 yards. Back nine complete – 2 over par.
Only slightly frustrated by our seeming inability to make birdie putts, we crossed over the hole #1 and started the better ball portion of the match. The Sheriff just missed the green from the right rough leaving a tricky putt, downhill and curling to the pin. I hit a sand wedge to 8 feet and was ready to get back the ugly bogey from the previous hole. After grazing the right edge and tapping in for par, I guess that in hindsight I wasn’t ready.
After I made a good up and down for par on #2, the Sheriff made a terrific birdie on #3 to get us back to 1 over. On the par 5, 4th hole my drive ended up only 188 yards from the pin in the left rough. My partner was in good shape in the fairway, but hit is second shot left into the pine straw short of the green. I tried to run a 5 iron up the front entrance to the green, but tugged it left about 5 yards and it stopped in the rough about 10 feet short of the green. My chip went a little long and I had 8 feet down the hill for birdie which I promptly missed-it never touched the cup. Two more pars on holes #5 and #6 and we ended the better ball session 1 under, making our score 1 over par overall.
The last 3 holes would conclude our alternate shot session and our goal was to make just one more birdie to get to even par 71 for the tournament. Like most of my goals, it was nice but unachievable. My partner hit a beautiful 7 iron about 15 feet below the hole on the par 3 – 7th hole. My putt dried up 6 inches short and left of the hole. Then the fun began. My drive on #8 was in the left rough leaving my partner with a downhill 9 iron to the green from a sketchy lie. The ball came out squirting right and ended up in the gnarly rough just off the right of the green. I chipped to about 6 feet, but Glenn missed both the hole and the putt – bogey.
On the tee of the final hole of the day (#9), we sat 2 over par and had the feeling we might lose this thing. Pumped up after a short pep talk about just finding the fairway with the drive and I would hit it close, the Sheriff took a mighty swing with the driver and smashed a wipey fade into the right rough. When we got there, I walked out to the fairway and say the yardage marker saying 185 middle. My partner shot the pin with his laser and said “197 pin”. Now, I always stick to my yardages by sight, aided by on course markers. This is from my caddie days and I’ve never used a range finder. Unfortunately, I didn’t stand fast at this moment and two things happened, neither of them good. One, I went back to bag and pulled my hybrid rather than the original 5 iron. Second, I hit the ball just right of the green and it careened off the cart path and ended up 30-40 yards past the green.
Bogey! Yes, we bogeyed the final 2 holes and ended the tournament with a 74. Happily, the rest of the field was worse and we ended the day with the lowest score. Like I said in the beginning, in reality this is a low net tournament as far as the Club is concerned so I wanted to pass along my congratulations to the Low Net winners – the brother’s Donnelly. Jimmy & Joe shot a net 67 as only a couple of sandbaggers from Columbia Country Club can do. Well done boys!
Real congratulations go to Natalie Wisniewski and Jean Otter for winning the Women’s Division with a 76. Natalie and Jean also won the Opening Day Member Member tournament, just like your Hack.
Remember, my 100 Hole Hike is tomorrow. I’m playing and walking 100 holes at Cripple Creek and raising money for Youth on Course. If you are around the Creek, we start at 6AM on the 3rd tee. Definitely going to need my LED golf balls at that hour. I’ll be live blogging all day – stay tuned.