Cripple Creek, Golf

It Was Time for Some Crazy Golf

Yesterday was cold and windy for a 10 AM start, but Mr. Robel’ – who generally runs our game on Sunday – had a solution. We had nine (9) players for our standard $20 Sunday game and our Sunday chairman announced we were to play in threesomes – first 6 holes were a “true” Step Away Scramble, the next 6 holes were Best Ball, and the last 6 holes were a scramble. Crazy Golf! But, at least it went by quickly as even the last group finished in about 3 1/2 hours.

Mr. Robel’, Assistant Pro Ryan, and Decker led off. They were followed by your Hack, the Voice and Doc Martin. Dewey, Boteler and the Councilman brought up the rear. A true Step Away meant the 3rd player, the one left after the first and second players had stepped away, was left to finish the hole on his own. 80% of handicaps were used on the middle 6 holes where we were playing our own ball and there was also some skin money in that section as well. Each 6 hole format was a separate event with each threesome playing for a $45 prize.

Our group played the Step Away fairly well. Doc three putted the 2nd hole to give us a bogey, but redeemed himself on the 4th with a two putt birdie. The Voice had laced a 3 hybrid onto the green after we used my drive to setup the birdie. Unfortunately, Doc Martin three putted the 5th hole as well and after making a routine par on the 6th, we ended the first segment at 1 over.

Here’s what was strange about the format. I only putted once over the 6 holes after using Doc’s wedge to the 3rd green. We used my drive on #1, #2 & #4 and I hit the approach shots on #5 & #6 – weird. Also, the Voice and I love to gamble and this format precluded a standard match. We decided on the first tee to play for $2 trash – longest drive and closest to the pin. We halved the first segment.

Moving to better ball on #7, we decided on $10 a hole and again we pushed – shocking! Doc Martin provided the highlights on the Best Ball segment with a net eagle on #9 and we finished the middle 6 holes at 3 under. The Voice and I could do no better than pars, but a net birdie was added on #11.

The Scramble over the final 6 holes started well with birdies on #13 & #15, but a bad bogey on #16 and missed putts on #17 and #18 left us at only 1 under par for the team. Not good enough in a 3 man scramble for sure. It turned out to be the only segment we lost, as our +1 on the Step Away and -3 on the Best Ball were good enough to win both segments and put $30 each in our pockets. Doc also nailed a skin with his birdie/net eagle on #8. The first group out took the Scramble portion of the match at -3 — good playing boys.

The Voice and I continued our trash match over the last 6 holes with your Hack winning 3 pieces of trash to his 2. Not much of a fortune, but even a $2 win over the Voice is a good thing.

A few of the boys are off to Casa de Campo this week so they will not be making an appearance in the blog. I’m sure most of us would rather be in the warm weather playing Teeth of the Dog. I know I would, but let’s hope we can play some “real” golf this week.

Until next round, keep it in the short grass.

Golf

Post Sony Roundup

Kevin Na was not on your Hack’s betting card for the Sony, but should have been. His 1 shot victory last night was impressive. This is the guy who resurrected his career after being named the slowest player on the PGA Tour and is now “famous” for walking in his putts. Congrats Kevin on your 5th PGA Tour victory!

Equally impressive was Chris Kirk who shot four (4) straight 65’s to lose by one. In the process however, he regained his tour status from a major medical exemption after seeking treatment for alcoholism. Last June, Kirk detailed his issues with drinking, his treatment, and his major medical exemption on this No Laying Up podcast – it’s a good listen.

Chris Kirk with No Laying Up – Podcast

My betting card for the tournament was detailed in my last post here: Quick Recap, Gambling, and Sony. Let’s start with my winners.

Tournament Match-ups: Your Hack bet 1 unit (a unit is my standard bet – $10, $25, $100 for example) on each match-up and ended up 3.8 units overall after the “vig” from the online Sportsbook. We won 4 of the matchups and pushed “Palmer over Scott” who both tied at -11 for the week.

  • Palmer over Scott – PUSH
  • Niemann over Matsuama – WIN
  • Kisner over Ancer – WIN
  • Kizzire over Knox – WIN
  • Si Woo Kim over Bradley – WIN

Your Hack also put a unit early Thursday on a single 3 Ball match – Charlie Hoffman over both Hahn and Every. I liked Charlie in first round (think about his Masters history) and he won returning 1.4 units. My last winner was 1/2 unit on Neimann to Top 5 at +450. My boy finished T2 for the 2nd week in a row and returned 2.25 units. Even with Sergio as a mentor, the boy can golf his ball.

Unfortunately, while I won 7.45 units on these bets, non of my Outright winners came in. The best performers were Webb Simpson at T4 and Patton Kizzire finishing T7. I lost all 4.5 units I has spread out on my 16 outright bets. I also lost 1 unit on my Top 10 bet (Charles Howell III), 1 unit on my other Top 5 bets and 1/2 unit on my Top 20 bet who actually missed the cut – thanks Hoge.

So, to sum it all up? The week was a slight positive as my winners for 7.45 unit were mostly offset by the losers which ate up 7 units. Of course, I’ll take starting the year up 0.45 units. If your Hack had a $1000 betting unit he’d be a little more happy! Remember though – I do this for fun, not to make a living.

On to The American Express this week where Andrew Landry was last year’s winner in the California desert shooting 26 under to beat “Honest” Abe Ancer by 2 shots. The Tournament will be played on the Stadium Course at PGA West, 7,113 yards, par 72 and the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West, 7,152 yards, par 72. For the first time in tournament history, The American Express will be conducted on fewer than three courses. The total purse is $6.7 million.

I’ll be back later in the week with my betting card.

Golf

Quick Recap, Golf Gambling and Sony

Your Hack hasn’t posted in about a week, but that doesn’t mean he’s not been playing. After our Wolf game back on January 8th – see Wolf Bait post – we had a fun five-some on Sunday. Dewey was back with the group after isolation over the holidays with the “Vid” and played along with the Senator, the Voice, Councilman and myself. The highlight of the day was the Councilman’s play which included an even par back nine for his first sub-80 round in a while. The Voice also posted an even par back nine and is “feeling it” for the upcoming trip to Casa de Campo. The Senator struggled, while I had my seemingly “normal” 78 or 79 with a couple of ugly doubles and three (3) straight bogeys to finish the round.

On Wednesday, we had six (6) players and were scheduled to go off behind some slower groups. Thinking we would have no problem keeping up and with the next tee time over 30 minutes after ours, we played the first nine as a six-some. We evidently thought correctly because we finished the front in a little less than 1 hour and 45 minutes, while waiting on the foursome in front of us for the last couple of holes. Unfortunately, it was not to be as we received a text from the pro on the 10th green that the group behind us had complained and we needed to split up into two threesomes. It turns out to have the served the group behind us right because both our threesomes were now backed up against the fourball in front of us and the “complainers” were forced to wait on every shot on the back nine. Serves them right.

For our Friday game we had eight (8) players matched in two four-balls playing 1 gross/1 net. Your Hack, Doc Martin, the Sheriff, and Ramrod played against Dewey, the Senator, the Councilman, and Boteler. It was our normal game and included skins (gross birdie or better). We blitzed around the course in a little less than 3 1/2 hours and our team blitzed the opponents shooting 7 under to their 1 over. We took all the money and your Hack posted 3 birdies in a row on holes #11 through #13 to take most of the skins. The Sheriff added a nice birdie on #15 which also cleared. The course is short these days – playing off temporary tees on all the par 3’s and the front tees on most of the par 4’s and a temporary green on #14. We played the course as a par 69 yesterday and I was able to come in a 3 over after losing a bad second shot on #14 and making double. The better news – only one (1) 3-putt green.

Most of you know that your Hack likes to gamble on the course, but I also enjoy wagering on professional golf. This week’s Sony Open is the first full field event of 2021 and I thought I’d outline my plays this week. I also play in a One and Done (OAD) season long event and my choice this week was Charles Howell III – Chuckie 3 Sticks. The Sony Open is like a personal ATM for this player and I like his chances for a high finish. In addition to the OAD, I like to bet outright winners and head to head match-ups.

Now, golf is a hard sport to bet so I don’t go overboard – it’s more about the fun than the profit margin when betting golf. Besides, it helps to have a few shekels on the line to help get through bland TV coverage. Although, I have to admit that there’s nothing better than prime time TV golf in Hawaii.

Because the field is relatively weak at the Sony, I’ve put small amounts on a lot of outright winners. I’ve also sprinkled a few Top 5, Top 10, and Top 20 bets. The wagers are smaller on the high odds. For example, $1 at +17500 wins $175. After two (2) rounds, I have some players in really good positions. Luckily only four (4) missed the cut.

  • Outright to Win
    • Webb Simpson +1100 (tied 2nd)
    • Ryan Palmer +3000
    • Kevin Kisner +3000
    • Sebastian Munoz +4500
    • Si Woo Kim +7500
    • Keegan Bradley +8000 (missed Cut)
    • Russell Know +9000 (missed Cut)
    • Patton Kizzire +6000
    • Talor Gooch +6000 (missed Cut)
    • Cameron Davis +11000
    • Tom Hoge +12500 (missed Cut)
    • Sepp Straka +12500
    • Stewart Cink +12500
    • Peter Malnati +17500 (tied 7th)
    • Wesley Bryan +25000
    • Tommy Armour +30000
  • Top 5
    • Munoz +1000
    • Bryan +5000
    • Niemann +450
  • Top 10
    • Howell +450
  • Top 20
    • Hoge +400 (Missed Cut)

Tournament head to head matchups are also a staple of my weekly betting card and I’m in good shape this week as Ancer, Knox and Bradley have all missed the cut, giving me at least three (3) winners out of the five (5) matches.

  • Tournament Match-ups
    • Palmer over Scott
    • Niemann over Matsuama
    • Kisner over Ancer
    • Kizzire over Knox
    • Si Woo Kim over Bradley

I’ll be back after Sunday nights final round and show you how I did with this week’s card. In the meantime, keep it in the short grass.

Golf

Wolf Bait

Most of you know that Wolf (or Wolf Hammer) is the Hack’s preferred golf betting game and yesterday, four (4) brave souls ventured into the wolf’s den at Cripple Creek to play. The weather was actually reasonable for early January with temperatures in the low 40’s, little wind, and cloudy skies. I played with only four (4) layers and a knit cap to keep the brain pouch warm as I walked the course.

The Senator, The Voice (guess who), and The Councilman joined your Hack around 11:30am on the first tee. Naturally, The Voice took charge and organized the game, grabbed the scorecard, announced the stakes, clarified handicaps, and returned to his cart to ponder how he could beat us out of a few bucks. After a nice drive and sand wedge to about 10 feet on #1, I was happy with my position when The Voice landed a wedge that stopped 2 feet from the pin. He announced – “Double!” – in that quiet melodic tone of his. The Senator and I declined the double, giving The Voice and The Councilman a quick dot.

After birdies, and then pars halved #2 and #3, we stood on the 4th tee with The Voice as Wolf. After a solid drive, I followed with laser to the right side of the fairway and was chosen as his partner for the hole and he announced “Double!” before the our opponents even hit. We were in great shape until I suddenly shanked a 6 iron out of bounds on my layup approach. [Regular readers know that your Hack has been struggling with the “hozzle” rocket pitchout off and on for a few months.] Triple! – our opponents announced and The Senator went on to make a nice par to win the hole for he and The Councilman. Ouch, I was now down 5 dots after only 5 holes.

After losing #6 to a par/net birdie from the Senator, I was able to be part of the winning side on #8 and #9 to trim the damage. The front ended with The Councilman up 4 dots, The Senator even, Hack down 2 dots, and The Voice down 4 dots.

Things began to get interesting on the second nine as your Hack hit a wedge to about 15 feet and had The Senator as his partner. Our opponents made par and the bet had been doubled before I putted. As I sometimes do, the birdie put was left almost 5 feet short – Triple! announced The Voice – and I pulled the par putt left. Bang – back to being down 6 dots and dragging The Senator with me. After pars halved #11, I drove the green on #12 and both my partner and I made birdie for the win. That led to four (4) straight wins over the subsequent holes which got me healthy.

There was a small controversy on #14 as, unknown to us on the tee, the flag had been moved to a temporary green location which substantially shortens the hole from a par 5 to a drive and chip, par 4. Usually the #5 handicap hole on the card, both The Councilman and The Voice would have stroked. The Senator was the Wolf on the tee and chose me as his partner after the other two (2) players yanked their tee shots into the marsh. Approaching our balls we finally noticed the temporary pin. Our opponents both found their balls in the marsh and were getting ready to play when the Senator, and rightly so, informed them that because of the substantially shortened hole, no handicap strokes would be allowed. A short and polite discussion (yeah right) occurred over the issue as The Senator made 3. The Voice made 4 and naturally thought he should be getting a stoke for a net 3 to halve the whole. I don’t think I played a round with these two (2) guys over the last couple of years that didn’t include some not so gentle banter between them. This round was no exception.

It was finally agreed on the next green (#15) that the strokes were not to be allowed and we moved to #16 with The Voice as Wolf because he was the most down – 4 units. The Senator was even, The Councilman was up 2 units, as was your Hack. The Wolf on the last 3 hole can increase the bet in order to win back some losses, or lose more of course. The Voice announced we’d be playing for 2 dots on #16 and I was his partner. Unfortunately, I 3-putted again and he couldn’t get up and down and the hole was halved.

#17 was played for 2 dots as well and everyone stroked except for me. After The Voice hit a weak snipe left of the first bunker, I hit a solid drive to the left edge of the fairway but getting no stroke, I wasn’t going to be chosen as his partner. The Senator hit a nice drive down the center and when chosen as The Voice’s partner, announced that he was “going Wolf” which automatically doubled the bet to 4 dots for the hole. However, he was playing against all three (3) of us. The Voice made a nice play from the rough to about 160 out and I knocked an iron to about 120 out. The Senator hit an indifferent hybrid that left him about 185 from the pin and we announced a double (raising the bet again to 8 dots for the hole) and The Senator took the bait.

Bad move – when the Senator left his approach about 15 yards short and right, The Voice and I both hit the green and were with 25 feet for birdie. The Councilman was also on the green, but laying 4. The Senator needed an up and down and both of us to miss our birdie puts or he was in a world of hurt. We missed, but so did he – The Senator was now down 24 units going to the 18th tee.

Once again, everyone stroked on the 18th hole except for me. The Councilman was my partner and we both hit good drives. After The Senator hit his second shot just short of the green and The Councilman hit his short and left in the rough, our opponents doubled the bet. I only had 150 yards to the pin, but pulled my 8 iron just off the putting surface left. I had to make about a 20 foot put from the collection area to make birdie and get the half as I knew The Senator would get up and down for a par/net birdie. I rolled the put over the left edge of the hole for a tp in par, but The Senator continued with his proper short game and sank the winner from about 3 feet.

The Voice was the biggest winner, cashing in on #17 and #18 to walk away up 12 units. The Senator was able to cut his losses to 16 units, while The Councilman and your Hack each won 2 units for the day.

Before we end today’s ramblings, I want to show you a picture that was sent to our Green Committee this morning. It seems some idiot with a pull cart decided it was too much of a hassle to push his cart around the green when it’s so much easier to just roll it right across, in winter when the grass does not easily recover.

Trolley Marks on #2 Green

Similar tracks were left on hole #4 and hole #12 as well. My preference for punishment would be the stocks and rotten tomatoes, but alas we do not yet know which of our members is responsible. I would further add that the number of ball marks that look un-repaired on our greens has grown substantially this year as well. Increased play due to the “Vid” quarantine is undoubtedly to blame for the increased damage, but our members need to do better. Fix you mark and several more – every time you play. And for God’s sake keep your push carts off the green! There, end of rant.

You Hack is hoping to play tomorrow, but it looks even colder than yesterday and they are expecting 20-25 MPH winds from the north/northwest. It’ll definitely be a game day decision.

Cripple Creek, Golf

New Year’s Eve – 4 Club Tourney

Happy 2021 everyone – I guess “Hindsight” really is 2020 now.

It’s been a couple of weeks since your Hack posted, so I thought I’d bring you up-to-date. December has been relatively wet and cold in Delaware this year and I’ve only gotten out to play a few times in the past 2 weeks. The Creek is soggy and we are hitting of mats on each of the Par 3’s and the 1st Hole and will probably be going to a temporary green on the 14th Hole in a few days.

Before we get to our New Year’s Eve event, I need to talk about a couple of matches I’ve had recently. The Senator, Hagen and I have played several matches over the past two weeks and I’ve come out on the losing side pretty consistently. While these defeats were hard to take, what happened last Wednesday was beyond belief. We played as a fivesome – Horton, Hagen, Pip, the Senator and I – in fairly nice weather, sunny and 40 degrees with little to no wind. The game was $5 skin carryovers with validation, but Hagen and I AND the Senator and I also had Nassau matches with automatic 2-down presses and a Texas Bet on the second nine. As there was some pretty serious cheese in play, my focus was steady play. And, we all know what happens to your Hack when he gets serious . . .

I was the only player to hit the first green in regulation, but I proceeded to 3 putt. Another 3 putt on #2 was quickly followed by a “shanked” wedge out of bounds on the 3rd hole and a drive out of bounds on #4. Good start. Not wanting to show any sign that I really did know how to play golf, I shanked my approach on the 5th hole out of bounds. Suicide watch had begun. Your Hack was 9 over par after 5 holes with 2 3-putts, 2 shanks OB and a big right miss drive OB.

Coming back strong with a par of #6, I thought I may have a chance to get back into the match, but it only tied Hagen’s bogey/net par. Yet, it was at least a little progress. Unfortunately that was that for the front nine and I made the turn with no skins, lost 3 ways to the Senator, and luckily, only 1 way to Hagen. The good news was that I was up 3 on the Texas bet to the Senator and up 1 on the Texas with Hagen. What followed on the back nine was in many ways worse – 2 balls in the water on #13, a drive OB on #14, 2 shanks in a row – including one from the bunker on #15 – and I ended up getting smashed on all bets. It was so bad, that I went into the bar for a Jack Daniels after the round and nobody joined me. It was as if karma had decided I was too dangerous to be around.

At least my buddy Hagen was understanding. He sent a text to our group the next morning suggesting the 4 clubs I should use for our tournament – a shovel, ball retriever, rake and a gun!

New Year’s Eve morning kicked off with a memorial on the back of the 13th green for a beloved friend, Pat McCrae who’d recently passed away. Pat’s Story was covered in my post “Fore!” Heaven. About 30-35 members gathered on the green to celebrate Pat’s remarkable life and give him a 21 shot salutes by hitting balls into the Indian River.

Fare Thee Well Pat

Several friends spoke about Pat’s life and told stories like the one from The “Monsignor” below:

Shots Heard Around the Creek

The New Year’s Eve 4 Club Tourney was organized by Mike “Mr Robel” and held to benefit the 1st Tee of Delaware this year and we were able to raise a little over $4,000 for this wonderful operation. Specials thanks go out to Mike Cummings, Frank Miranda, Steve Hagen and Harry Stokes for their very generous support.

The tournament was individual gross and net play where each player was limited to 4 clubs and a putter. We had a Men’s Division, Gold Tee Division and a Women’s Division compete for prizes and closest to the pin awards. Rather than simply adopt Hagen’s prior suggestion for my armament, I went with 3-wood, 5-iron, 7-iron and lob wedge. This turned out pretty well, except that I had to “chip” 7 irons from between 100 and 135 years which was out of range for the lob wedge. In a strong about face from Wednesday disaster, I was only 3-over after the first 12 holes. Unfortunately, I ended up making a triple bogey on the 14th hole and added a couple more bogeys coming in to finish in 4th place gross.

Congratulations to our winners:

Closest to the Pin – Ski (#3) and Doc (#13) for the Gold Division and Vallese (#3) and Sunderlin (#13) for the Men’s Division

Gross Score: 1st -Robel 76 (on match of cards), 2nd – Pip, 3rd – Morgan (on match of cards), and 4th Your Hack. Doc took first in the Gold Division and Ski took second.

Net Score: Ramrod, Fallon, Miranda and Browne in the Men’s Division and Neil Leary and Dick Moore first and second net places in the Gold Tee Division.

Our thanks go out to “Mr. Robel” for another great event and it was announced that going forward, the tournament will be held annually on New Year’s Eve and be renamed the “Pat McCrae 4 Club Challenge for the First Tee” and will be run by Harry Stokes and Glen Reid.

Cripple Creek

The Senator is a Killer

Mike “Senator” Cummings has been on a run over the past couple of months. His chipping and putting has gotten sharper and better. And, he is gaining yardage off the tee and hitting fairway after fairway. He’s become a “killer” looking for his next victim. All this, with that perpetual, disarming smile on his face.

It was Sunday, the day after the Holiday Step Away Tournament, and it was time for a money game at the Creek. Your Hack partnered with the Sheriff and took on Hagen and the Senator for, let’s say, somewhat higher than our normal Nassau stakes. It was agreed that the Senator and I would play even up and the Sheriff and Hagen would get 2 strokes a side. Little did I know that I was to become his victim.

The Senator (and Hagen) About to Commit Murder

The match started in a typical fashion as both the Senator and I had 4-5 footers for par on the 1st. He made and I missed – 1 down. Pars had halved #2 and #3 when the Senator flagged his approach shot to 3 feet on #4 and made birdie – 2 down and even on the press. Hagen made par on #5 to our bogeys and then made bogey, net par on #6 to win that hole as well – 4 down, 2 down, and even. Some would say it was getting ugly with our opponents hamming and egging it to perfection and the Sheriff and I leaving our balls in bad positions and missing putts. “Was getting ugly . . .” is not the right phrase – it was ugly.

All four of us managed pars on #7, but then Mike made par on #8 and Hagen made par on #9 to make the ugly official – 6 down, 4 down, 2 down. We lost the front, 2 presses, were 6 down on the match and 3 up on the Texas press which would be an added bet on the back nine.

The “ugliness” continued on #10 when I left my 40 yard wedge short of the green and couldn’t get up and down. Of course, the Senator made par which put us 1 down on the back and 7 down on the match with only 8 holes to go. We fought back to even on the back when your Hack made a nice downhill putt for birdie on #12 – my first birdie of the day. The Senator struck back with a winning par on #14 and #16 to push us back to 2 down and even on the back – we’d lost the overall match bet by that time as well.

The Sheriff on #13 Pondering a Comeback

It was at this point when the Sheriff decided to step in and clean up the town. After three (3) solid shots on #17, he drained a 25 foot put for birdie, net eagle to beat the Senator’s birdie – we were now 1 down/1 up on the remaining bets and had won the Texas press. On the final hole, the Sheriff was short left after two (2) shots when he hit a spinning chip that collided with the flagstick and stopped 2 feet from the hole. The conceded par, net birdie clipped the Senator’s par and we’d clawed our was back to take the second nine and the press. All told we only lost 4 ways and it felt like a victory.

The Senator shot a beautiful 73 – 2 over par – against my 80. Hagen and the Sheriff stood at 82 and 81. Of course, all these scores included a bunch of conceded puts – remember it was match play. However, the Senator’s score was real as we were reluctant to give him any putts that day. He made everything he looked at all day long. It was a real pleasure to watch Mike play. But let’s not forget his partner. On the two (2) holes where Mike made a bogey, Hagen came through with a par to win or halve the hole. They play almost perfectly as a team. Well done boys – there will be a re-match in the near future.

The weather looks bad all week so I doubt there will be any golf played until next weekend at the earliest. In the meantime, stay safe and, if you play, keep it in the short grass.

Cripple Creek, Golf

3 Man Holiday Step Away Scramble

After the weather knocked us out last weekend, the revised teams were finalized by our tournament director, one Mr. Robel’. The tournament featured a shotgun start and kicked off at 10AM on Saturday. The weather was perfect with temperatures climbing to over 60 degrees – not bad for December 12th. We had 16 teams of 3 players each slotted into groups jumping off tees 12 through 18 and hole #1.

There were quite a few cancellations because of the revised date and also new additions to the field. Mr. Robel’ needed to make last minute adjustments to the teams that basically invalidated last week’s draw and killed the pari-mutuel – bummer. As he indicated: “With all the cancellations and additions to the field, there was no way I could get teams close to being competitive with the wide disparity in handicaps. In other words I threw out the draw. I took all the handicaps and separated them into three groups. I went top to bottom in the A group, bottom to top in the C group and took the B group from the middle and separated them to the top and bottom of the A group. All teams are now within 4 strokes of each other, except one. That being said, at this late date and the changes being made, there will not be any para mutual betting.” Whatever that means Mike!

The teams and starting holes are shown below:

1a-Diehl-Nangle-Legge
1b-Piperno-Vallese-Clarke
18a-Baxter (Hack)-Statter-Creager
18b-Dewey-Witmer-Gonzo
17a-Boteler-Leary-States
17b-Haines-Hudson,D-Howett
16a-Walsh-Moore-Mumford 
16b-Baker-Donnelly,Joe-Skibicki
15a-Roth-Dzedzy-Ruggiero
15b-Cummings-Hastings-Frog
14a-Hagen-Browne-Miranda
14b-Sanderson-Bromley-Sasada
13a-Donnelly,Jim-Stokes-Thompson
13b-Morgan-Decker-Dream
12a-Robel-Martin-Hunsberger
12b-Hudson-Schaffran-Duerbeck

Our tournament director went through last minute instructions – all putts must be holed, use the most upfront tees on seven (7) of the holes, use the matts on the par 3’s and hole #1, etc. The 3 man step-away scramble format goes like this. All three (3) players hit from the tee and the best drive is selected with the person hitting that shot “stepping away”. The remaining two (2) players hit from that spot and the player whose shot is selected then steps away and the last player makes the third shot. If the ball is not holed, all three (3) players on the team play the fourth shot and the step away begins again.

As you can see above, your Hack was paired with Simon Statter and Tom Creager and we started on the 18th hole. I hit a drive over the trees and left my partners 145 years to the pin. Tom’s shot went left into the collection area and Simon’s shot came up short. Simon made a wonderful chip from Tom’s ball position and left us a couple of feet for par. We turned to hole #1 where we ended up with Tom having a 20 foot putt for birdie that was left and above a devilish pin position on the back right section of the green. After a careful survey of the situation, Simon and I point to a spot about 5 feet directly above the hole and told Tom to put the ball to that spot. The man takes instructions well. His ball hit the spot at stall speed and trundled down the slope, dropping into the cup on the last rotation for birdie. One (1) under after two (2) holes and we were looking solid.

My Partners – Tom on the 2nd Tee and Simon Waiting to Hit

As we stood over our approach on #2, a “roar” erupted on the third green – “LFG!” We looked over to see Matt (Pip) Piperno pull his ball out of the cup. A hole in one on just their 3rd hole of the day. They were stoked and 2 under par. Congratulations Pip! Well done.

Pip! First Hole in One Ever

All of the excitement must have gotten to us as we 3-putted the 2nd hole for a bogey. Another bogey on #4 pushed us to 1 over par and it felt like the wheels were coming off only five (5) holes into the tournament. Hagen/Browne/Miranda were also 1 over at that point. Piperno’s team was 1 under, as was the Diehl team. Most of the other teams were sitting at 1 or 2 over.

We righted the ship over the remaining holes on the front 9, but couldn’t make any birdie puts. A couple of burned edges, but that was about it. We were a little over half way through the tournament and still sat at +1. The leaders – Diehl’s team and Pip’s team were at -2. Three (3) teams were at even par – Hagen’s, Cummings’, and Haines’ – while Donnelley’s and Hudson’s teams were tied with us at one (1) over par. Four (4) more teams were 2 over, one (1) team was 3 over and the Walsh and Robel teams sat at 5 over par after tough starts. Robel’s team tripled #17 and followed with bogeys on both #1 and #2 for example.

The final nine (9) holes of the tournament saw the leaders slip back and the Hagen team charge forward. Diehl’s team, which was 2 under and tied for the lead after nine (9) holes and got to 4 under through #13, finished the round with a double on #14 and bogeys on #16 and #18 sandwiching a birdie on #17. They finished at 2 under and tied for second. The other leaders, Piperno’s team, bogeyed the par 3, #16 and finished tied second at 1 under. The Haines team was able to birdie #13 and finished at 1 under, tied second.

Your Hack’s team was able to make an easy birdie on #12 as my drive ended up on the front fringe about 15 feet from the hole, but we had bogeyed #10 from 45 yards out and ended with a bogey on our final hole, #17, to finish at 2 over. Luckily, this would ultimately be good for 7th place and a small cash win.

The strongest moves over the final nine (9) holes came from the Boteler team and the Hagen team. Boteler’s guys were able to birdie #9 and #13 to bring their score back to even par and finish 5th. The ultimate winners were Hagen’s team who birdied #5 and #7 to finish at 1 under par. It was good enough for a 1 shot victory over the three (3) teams tied at 1 under.

Final Leaderboard

Most of the players gathered on the back patio at widely separated tables to watch the scores come in and enjoy a boxed lunch prepared by the Cripple Creek staff. The Holiday Scramble was played to support the staff of the club and we added to that by holding a 50/50 for additional tips. The lunch was great – our Pro and Andy, who manages the house, bought everyone’s first drink. Pip’s hole in one also added to the free drink total. As you can imagine, we had a blast.

Crab Soup and Wrap for Players

Our Tournament Director summarized it best: I would like to thank everyone for participating in today’s Step Away. We able to tip all three groups (bag staff, wait staff, grounds crew) almost $200 each. It was a fun and challenging day. Kudo’s to the team of Hagen-Browne-Miranda. Great playing guys. Everyone should be proud of themselves at Cripple Creek. We are a special group of guys. 

Thanks Mike and well said. We appreciate all you do Mr. Robel’!

So ended the Men’s Holiday Step Away Scramble. I have a money match on Sunday with some of the boys and our next planned event is a 4 Club & Putter Tournament on New Year’s Eve. Keep it in the short grass.

Personal

“Fore!” Heaven

An amazing man passed away this past weekend. Your Hack was proud to call Pat McRae his friend, golf partner, and fellow Cripple Creek member. I first met Pat in 2000 after I joined “The Group” run by the “Once and Former Commish” at the Creek. Pat was a jokester, but could play golf for money better than most! Some of my best memories come from playing with Pat, Mic, Lar, Dog, and Frog back in the day. We had some great matches.

As Pat got older – as we all have experienced – his golf skills diminished and his play faltered. But that’s why we have handicaps and Pat could still play to his handicap when the chips were in the pot. He won the 2018 Hootie partnering with Glen Reid. And, he followed by winning the 2019 Hootie partnering with Don Boteler. Pat was a terrific athlete, even when he played at the end on one leg. One of our friends summed it up nicely – “… he was a special guy that always had a twinkle in his eye. I really admired his perseverance and good humor. I remember one time we were playing and I got his ball out of the hole to try and help him, and he thanked me but told me he needed to do it himself. . .”

Pat’s effect on hundreds of lives is perhaps best summed up in his online obituary:

“Pat was always working to get a laugh. He had claimed one of his best friends was a Monsignor, showed up with overalls and no shirt and tried to convince people he was some kind of hillbilly and if you were standing by a pool he might just go ahead and push you in. As an educator he was no different; he started off every day in the classroom with a joke to wake the kids up and start off the day in the right frame of mind. They couldn’t get enough of him- his room would be full of students during lunchtime, half enjoying eating with him, the other half getting a little needed tutoring. He spent 41 years at the Alice Costello School in Brooklawn teaching 8th grade science. And even in semi-retirement he kept educating, working at Millsboro Middle School, Delaware and even after that as a substitute. If he wasn’t spreading knowledge in the classroom he was most likely coaching and mentoring, especially basketball, but just about everywhere else where they needed a hand. But his love of sport dated to his youth; he was inducted into the hall of fame at Monsignor Bonner as the quarterback who won the Catholic League Championship, played in the Little League World Series, played minor league baseball for Pittsburgh and went to Temple on a baseball scholarship. He was an active member at Cripple Creek Golf Course. He loved being on the golf course especially with his friends. Even losing his leg couldn’t keep him from competing; he even played in a golf tournament in Las Vegas. And with competition in his blood he also spent multiple years owning and racing horses at Garden State Park, the Meadowlands, and Ocean Downs. His late son, Patrick, was his trainer and driver for a while and one of his horses ran at the Breeders Crown. Two horses once won in a day, though he credited that to a miraculous medal being held at the finish line by his mother. Most evenings and weekends in his younger years found him running his supermarket in Chester Heights, PA where he was also the butcher. He was a devout Catholic though he may have misbehaved from time to time while sitting in the pews.

In grammar school he met a pretty girl named Patricia. According to Patrick, she chased him until he ran out of sneakers and then he gave into her advances (others, including Patricia, disputed that narrative). In any case, they’d share an amazing 53-year marriage blessed by 4 children: Kelly Anne, Kimberly Anne (Mark Labbree), Kristie Anne, and the late Patrick Sean and later by grandchildren, Morgan, McKayla, Desirae and Roy.”

Pat, you will be missed by all of your golf buddies. All I can say is Fore! Heaven.

Cripple Creek, Golf

Bookends Baby! Catching Up on a Sunday

Rain, rain and more rain. We got our Friday game in before it literally dumped rain on the Creek overnight and more rain and wind hit us on Saturday. Of course, the course was closed Saturday after that thrashing and our 3 Man Holiday Step Away Scramble has been postponed until next Saturday.

Your Hack was slightly depressed (thinking about writing up his summary of the Friday match) and then got this email early today from the Creek’s Pro.

Sunday December 6, 2020
The storm that effected our area Friday night into Saturday morning dropped just under 4 inches of rain at the club.  There was standing water everywhere throughout the course, and while some of that has receded, we continue to have large areas under water.  As you can imagine the ground is totally saturated and needs more time to dry out before allowing any play or practice to resume.  Therefore the course and practice areas will remain closed ALL DAY today (Sunday).  

So great, nothing left to do but collect my thoughts, blog a little, place some bets on the final round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic and take a chance on the Browns at +5. I’ve got tickets on Justin Thomas (+700), and Viktor Hovland (+275) that I bet live this morning before the start of play. Max Homa had a strong day yesterday and was at +50000 to win. Why not take a $5 flyer to win $2,500? I’ll probably find out this evening why not, but I did.

Walking the course this morning from 8am to 9am, I took a few videos of the large amount of water being moved around via the club’s irrigation system. It was pretty impressive. There were also some spots of deep standing water on #4, especially to the left between the approach to the green and the 8th tee. It was a good thing the course was closed.

Fronting the 17th Green
Pond Between 6th Fairway and 7th Green

Prior to the walk, I spotted a little friend crossing the 15th fairway in back of our rental and searching along the natural area for a bite of breakfast. Giving up, he calmly crossed the 16th fairway and onto the vacant lot adjacent to the 16th green. Here’s my little buddy – actually not so little for a fox in this area.

iPhone is not so Great at Distance.

So, I mentioned earlier that I was slightly depressed thinking about writing up my Friday match. I’ve struggled to explain how I could make 3 birdies, be 2 over par for the round on the 14th tee and manage to limp in with an 80, lose the team match, lose a Nassau 1 down to the Senator and lose a back 9 team bet to Hagen & the Senator. Then it hit me – I’m so unbelievably inconsistent that I really am The Golf Hack.

Bookends Baby!

Our Friday game was Bookends. Two (2) or four (4) net on all holes except the bookends – #1, #9, #10, & #18 – where all four (4) balls count. Good game selection by Mr. Robel’ whose text popped into my phone that morning announcing the game format:

11:00 Dewey6-Martin12-Hudson(council)10-Donnelly9
11:10 Robel7-Browne12-Horton11-Boteler9
11:20 Baxter5-Cummings8-Hastings12-Hagen9
Bookends- 2 of 4 on all holes except 1-9-10-18 all 4 on those holes
$80 front nine
$80 back nine
$50 gross skins
$30 net skins

Weather was “not bad” for December 4th with temperatures in the mid to high 50’s and 13 mpg winds from the southwest. The weather wasn’t the problem.

We were the last group out and “Senator” Cummings and I decided to add some spice by playing a $20 Nassau with automatic 2-down presses. Hagen was trying to “relax” and “de-stress” by not playing for money so our anticipated Wolf match did not happen. The Senator and I just kind of rolled our eyes and knew this wouldn’t last long.

Your Hack started off with a bad 3-putt on #1, followed by a worse 4-putt on #2 and was two (2) down and even on the first press. No the best start being 3 over after just two (2) holes. I was able to par the next couple and then hit a wedge to 2 feet on #5 to bring the Nassau to even, 2 up and even. After another 3-putt on #8, I was 1 down, 1 up, and 1 down going into #9. Another birdie allowed me to halve the front, win a press, halve the 2nd press and go into the back nine even on the match. I felt like had been through battle and the Senator was playing well.

The team of Dewey, Doc Martin, Councilman, and the Trust Fund blitzed the other two group on the front coming in with a 5-under Bookends score. We and the Mr. Robel’ team were not even close. This would continue on the back as the Dewey team was 4-under and took the back as well.

On the 10th tee, Hagen decided that he was sufficiently relaxed that he proposed a back nine match pairing himself with the Senator and your Hack with Hurricane Hastings. I should have know better than to accept, but I’m not the smartest punter out there.

The Senator continued his solid play making birdie on #11 which I countered on #12 with a birdie of my own. After both making pars on #13 we remained all square on the back and the match. On #14, I had a chance to pull ahead after my second shot ended up pin high in the pine straw on the right and the Senator was lying 3 in the swale to the right of the green. Unfortunately, I made a bad pitch followed by an even worse chip and missed my par putt – another half.

The final meltdown started on #15 with two (2) straight drives OB (the Big Right Miss times two!) 1 down to the Senator and he stroked on the last to holes of the match. I had a chance on both #17 and #18 to get the match back to even and possibly win, but I 3-putted both and lost to the Senator 1 down on the back and match. The final insult was pulling my first putt on #18 so badly that I actually hit the Senator’s golf ball sitting on the fringe. Those two (2) 3 putts also cost Hurricane and I the back nine match versus Hagen and the Senator.

As I stated earlier, Dewey’s team ran away with all the money in the Bookends game. Dewey also won $30 in skins and Doc Martin pocketed another $40. I was lucky enough to have one of my birdies clear for a skin as well. Otherwise, it was a “payout” day for your Hack.

All kidding aside, I’m generally happy with the way I’m hitting the ball and just need to continue to work on my putting and short game. I’m also realizing that I’m not finishing well – throwing too many shots away on the last 3 to 4 holes of each recent round. Focus I would guess is the issue and I’m really looking forward to getting on the course again on Wednesday. That assumes the weather holds!

A final sad note from Cripple Creek. Our dear friend Pat McRae passed away this weekend. I’m deeply saddened by this news as Pat was a tremendous man, a great friend, and an inspiration to all who knew him. My thoughts go out his is wife Patsy and their children and families. Pat – your humor and friendship will be missed by all of us at the Creek.

Cripple Creek, Golf

When No Lead is Large Enough

Wednesday’s weather was not the most welcoming when we hit the practice tee for our weekly game. Temperatures were in the low 40’s and the wind was blowing pretty steadily from the north. So steady in fact that Steve decided to bail after a few warm-up shots – more on this later. That left us with six (6) players, so maybe it was not so bad that he left.

There were not a lot of golfers on the course, so we decided to play as one group, a six-some if you will. We elected a Modified Pinehurst format, also called Scotch Foursomes. Competition in this format is comprised of 2-man teams, each hitting a shot off the tee, selecting the best one and playing alternate shot until the ball is holed. We decided on a small $10 bet per player, so the winning team would win $30 each. Dividing up by handicaps, your Hack paired with Dave Horton against the Senator and the Councilman, and against Dewey and Boteler.

Cripple Creek has been partially converted for winter play. All the tee markers have been moved to the front edge of each tee and temporary tees (mats) put in place on each of the par 3’s and hole #1. This is done to protect the tees during the winter when grass cannot be grown. The final winter modification will come in a few weeks when a temporary green will be placed at the end of the 14th fairway and the green closed for play.

Getting used to the format, the wind, and the cold each team bogeyed the first two (2) holes. On #3, your Hack hit gap wedge to about 6 feet, the Senator flew a wedge about 8 feet above the hole, and Dewey knocked his ball to about 20 feet left of the pin. Our partners putted, but only Horton was able to convert and we made birdie to take the lead by one shot. Following pars on 4 of the next 5 holes, we were able to extend our lead to 3 over Dewey/Boteler and 4 over Senator/Councilman. Each team bogeyed #9 and we made the turn 3 over – still in the lead.

Horton and I played steady over the stretch from #10 through #13 making 4 pars while Dewey/Boteler added another bogey and Senator/Councilman faltered with a bogey and a double. Your Hack’s team now had a 4 shot lead and we were coming into the par 5, #14 which I’d reached in two (2) shots in the previous two (2) rounds. While my drive bounced of the block foundation of the last house on the right and ricocheted back into the fairway (another “big right miss”), Horton hit a nice drawing tee shot that bounded just across the cart path that crosses the fairway about 185 yards from the green. We used Dave’s drive of course, and I hit a nice 6 iron to about 15 feet left of the pin. After a 2-putt birdie, we extended our lead, were 2 over for the day and feeling unbeatable with 4 holes left to play.

We made a bad bogey on #15 but followed it up with Dave draining a terrific 10 foot putt for birdie on #16. Dewey/Boteler continued to play steady making par after par on the front, but they remained 5 shots back with only 2 holes to play. The Senator/Councilman team continued to struggle making an ugly double on #16 and were basically wanting the round to end before one of them got hurt.

This is the part of the story where weird things begin to happen. We were sitting 120 yards from the pin on the par 5, 17th hole when your Hack made the worst swing of the day and pulled a pitching wedge way left and into the water. Horton had been so confident, that he was already up beside the green when I had to call him back to play his shot across the hazard after taking a penalty drop. Both of our opponents were on the green in regulation and we were hitting 5. Dave took a drop and promptly dunked his ball into the hazard after hitting the greatest “chunk” shot ever. Another penalty drop for us after which it hit a sand wedge to about 6 feet below the hole and David made the stressful putt for an 8 – a triple bogey. Dewey/Boteler made their par and our lead had dropped to 2 shots with one hole to play.

Although we still felt comfortable on the 18th tee, dropping 3 shots on the prior hole was definitely on everyone’s mind. I hit a good drive into the middle of the fairway, about 180 years out, but Dave’s approach was about 10 yards short of the green. No problem, it was an easy chip for me and Dewey/Boteler were way left hitting their third the green. Evidently it was a problem because Dewey hit a beautiful pitch to about 7 feet and your Hack stubbed his chip to the front fringe. Horton missed and left me with a 6 foot come back putt, while Boteler smoothly knocked his 7 footer in for yet another par. Of course, I missed the come back putt and we made double bogey losing the 2 shot lead and ending the match tied with Dewey/Boteler.

Evidently, your Hack is not much of a pressure player – even in a small $10 match. Horton and I shot 40 on the back to the Dewey/Boteler one over 37. As I said in the opening, evidently no lead is large enough when your Hack is involved.

All in, the modified Pinehurst match was a fun way to play on a cold and windy day. All six (6) of us had a great time and we headed into the bar for the draw party to setup teams for this Saturday’s 3 Man Step Away Holiday Scramble. During the draw, Steve (who’d bailed from our match on the practice tee) showed up after “smashing” (his words) the casino in Ocean City while we played. Congrats on the win Steve – bring that cash to the course this weekend!

We have 17 3-man teams for the step away on Saturday. Your Hack is partnered with Buddy Bromley and Frank Miranda. Let’s go!