Cripple Creek, Golf

Sunday Redemption

Sometimes a little game of Wolf can set things back on the right track. Only four (4) of us went out early on Masters’ Sunday – Your Hack, the Sheriff, the Striker, and the Councilman. For our Wolf game, we teed off in order of handicap with strokes given off my cap. The dots were not large – just a calm, friendly game.

After solid Hogan’s (fairway hit, green hit, 2 putt pars) on the first three (3) holes, I went Wolf before my tee shot on #4 which triples the dot value. I left my second shot just off the green right of the pin and was able to get up and for birdie and the win – 9 dots. After a good drive into the middle of the fairway on #5, the old Hack suddenly surfaced as I hit a sloppy 7-iron into the right bunker, chunked the bunker shot short of the fringe and then hit a poor chip. My bogey putt was off target and boom – double bogey.

Usually, this would put me on tilt, but yesterday was different. I was able to put it out of my mind and finish the front with three (3) straight pars and a tap-in birdie on the 9th. The biggest highlight on the front came courtesy of the Sheriff. On #7, he was above the middle/front pin in the fringe and hit a perfect 20 footer over a ridge and down the hill to drain his birdie. To top it off, he’d basically called it before striking the put.

The back nine started with a lipped out birdie put on #10, a nuked bunker shot on #11 that flew the green for a bogey and then a 10 footer for birdie on #12. After a par on #13, I hit a 3-wood from the up tees which left me a chance to go for the green on #14. My shot needed to draw around the pine tree but I ended up hitting a straight bullet pin high right of the green. My chip up the hill from the depression was clunky and I made a poor bogey to go one over for the day. After solid pars on the next three (3) holes, your Hack came to the 18th tee box needing one last birdie to shoot even par for the day.

It might have been my propensity for the “big right miss” when hitting into the wind, but I swung too hard and yanked my drive left and was about 10 yards in front of the 9th green! Luckily I still had a shot at the correct green. Unluckily, my high 3 wood caught the top branch of the last tree and dropped left about 30 yards from the putting surface. Maybe it was the end of the day or maybe I don’t have the mental toughness needed for finish a round, but I ended up butchering a couple of chips and making an ugly double bogey to finish the day at 74 – 3 over par.

The Sheriff had gone Wolf on the last hole and doubled the dot value on the tee. The Striker came through for the three (3) of us to edge out the Sheriff when he couldn’t get up and down from the left. The final Wolf results left him down 16 dots, Striker up 2 dots, Councilman up 2 dots and your Hack up 12 dots for the day. All in all, a good day.

DSGA Spring Classic

Mr. Robel’ and I are headed to Kings Creek today for our first tournament of the year. It’s Stableford Better Ball and we are in Flight 1. Today is a 1PM shotgun start and tomorrow’s round at Rehoboth is an 8:30 shotgun start. If you are interested, you can follow along with the live leader board at the link below:

Leaderboard Link


Here is my card from Sunday:

Stats:

Fairways: 10/14

Greens: 14/18

Putts: 33 (0 3-putts)

Cripple Creek, Golf

A Little Friday Pain

With only seven (7) players on Friday, the game was individual Stableford scoring and then adding your GHIN handicap to the total. Triple bogey or worse was minus 1 point and birdies were worth 4 points. We paid the top 3 places.

Your Hack, the Broker and the young Broker-to-be (Austin, age 14) led off, followed by Striker, Decker, Boteler and Trust Fund.

Young Austin had a tough day. He has a beautiful swing and hit some awesome shots, but the speed and pin locations on slopes gave him fits. Among his highlights, the young Broker-to-be hit a beautiful wedge to a back right hole location on #3 that came to rest 4 1/2 feet above and right of the hole. He calmly drained the putt for birdie. Austin also made beautiful up and down for par on #16 from the front left bunker, as he proceeded for take his Dad for $20 over the last 4 holes of the match.

Striker has returned to form shooting a 77 that included a 1 over 36 on the front and a birdie on long par 4 5th hole. He had a great round only marred by a triple on #17, which ultimately dropped him from First to second place in the Stableford.

The Stableford winner was Decker who is officially on handicap watch. Playing as a 14, Mark promptly birdied the first hole out of the gate and cruised to a 3 over 38 on the front. Steady play on the back, with only one double bogey led to an 82 and the win. I need a good nickname for Mark. Suggestions?

Boteler (need a nickname here as well) had a bi-polar approach to yesterday’s match, birdieing #8 for a 39 on the front. He followed this up with another birdie on #12. Don was 7 over through 15 holes on his way to breaking 80. Alas, like Icarito he flew too close to the sun and finished with a double and 2 triples to shoot 86.

Trust Fund did Trust Fund things with 3 triple bogeys and 2 double bogeys. He did however gain a tie for 3rd place with Boteler by making birdies on #10 and #13.

Here were the final scores and total Stableford points:

PlayerCapScorePoints
Decker148240
Striker77738
Boteler108633
Trust Fund108633
Golf Hack58528
Broker10n/a24
Austin13n/a21

Your Hack posted the worst round of the short season, limping home with a triple bogey, double bogey, double bogey finish to shoot 85 that included a 4 putt double on 17 after hitting a 3-wood onto the green from 230 out. Three (3) penalty shots – lost ball in the range on #9, shanked OB over the townhomes on 16, and a bladed sand shot into the hazard behind 18 – and 34 putts. BTW – did you even know there was a hazard behind the 18th green?

Here’s my psyco-scorecard. (it shows today’s date because I entered the scores this morning from yesterday’s paper scorecard)

Your Hack has some practice work to do this weekend to get ready for the first tournament of the year. Mr. Robel’ and I are teaming up to play the DSGA Spring Classic. 1 PM shotgun on Monday at Kings Creek and an 8:30 AM shotgun Tuesday at Rehoboth. The format is a 36 hole Net Stableford format in flights.

If you’d like to follow along, here is the link to the live leaderboard:

DSGA Spring Classic Leaderboard

Cripple Creek, Gambling, Golf

Wednesday Game

Twelve of us gathered at the Creek yesterday for our regular Wednesday game. Because your Hack has fallen in love with Simon’s carryover skins game, we played it again. The first 14 holes were worth $10 each, while the final 4 holes were $25 each. We played at 80% of GHIN handicaps with strokes based off my cap. With $240 in the pot, we teed off under sunny skies with a mild breeze and temps in the 50’s. The greens were the fastest we’d seen at the Creek in months and “someone” from the grounds crew had a fight with his spouse that morning and put some of the pins in crazy hard spots.

The lead group consisted of the Voice, Trust Fund, yours truly, and a blast from the past. The Broker, an old friend re-joined Cripple Creek and was our fourth. The Broker hasn’t played much golf over the past couple of years – busy with two young boys and a hectic mortgage business – so he was allowed to play at his old 10 handicap. Hey, he’s a degenerate gambler on course, so he was warmly welcomed. The Broker and I teamed up in a Nassau with auto 2-downs against the Voice and Trust Fund to keep things interesting.

My partner made a nice steady par on #1 to beat our opponents’ bogeys and we went 1 up. Your Hack rolled in a curling 15 footer for birdie on #2 to beat Trust Fund’s par and we were 2 up and even. It was a nice start, but the Voice doesn’t even get interested until there are presses in play. After halving #3 with pars, I sprayed a drive OB right and the Voice made par to beat the bogey made by my partner. He followed with a bogey, net par on #5 when I couldn’t get up and down from the front left bunker and if was now even, down 2, and even.

The Broker and I were in good shape on #6 sitting in the fairway between 140 and 150 out. Both of our opponents missed the green and we both made 2-putt pars. Both opponents missed 5-6 footers for par. We were now 1 up, even, and 1 up going to the par 3 eighth. Unfortunately, I decided to 3-putt the 8th after being the only player to hot the green. The Voice made a gutsy 4 out of an embedded lie in the hazard in front of the green. #8 was also halved and we went in to the last hole on the front in good shape.

It would come down to me and the Trust Fund on #9 as both our partners made a mess of things and were out of the hole. I was sitting about 15 feet right of the pin and he was on the back fringe, down hill all the way. Remember what I’d said earlier about the greens? Well, he proceeded to roll his ball past the hole at a pace that carried it off the green again. He was still out, about 20 feet below the pin and it looked like we’d win the front 3 ways until the stone cold assassin drained it! I left my birdie putt on the left edge and another hole was halved, but we’d one the front 1 up and the 2 pushes cancelled.

It turned out when we tabulated the skins after the round that my birdie on #2 picked up 2 skins and that the remaining 7 skins on the front were all carried over. More on that later.

On the back nine our Nassau bet doubles, but the value of any presses remains at the original amount. We’d never get to the point on the back where a press came into play – it was a solid and stressful match. Holes 10-12 were halved with pars when the Broker jammed a birdie putt into the cup on #4 for a 1 up lead. The Voice matched that with a beautiful birdie on the par 5, 14th hole. He hit his wedge to about 6 feet and rolled it in. I was out of the hole after hitting another drive OB right and my partner also made a double.

We were back even until I made an up and down par on #16 that our opponents couldn’t match. 1 up and 2 holes to go, but our opponents each got strokes on the last 2 holes. The Voice and I both made par on #17, but they took the hole with his net birdie and we went into the last hole all square on the back. The Broker also stroked on the last hole and was on in two, but deep into the green with a front pin. Both of our opponents missed the green, as did I. Luckily, I was able to get up and down for par, but my partner 3-putted and their bogey, net pars halved the hole.

Overall, it was a great match and lots of fun. I still hate giving strokes on the last 2 holes of the course, but that’s the Hack life.

Let’s get back to the carryover birdie games among the whole group. The carryovers continued on the front 9 until the Broker’s birdie on #13 cleared and he picked up 11 skins. Hurricane slammed a birdie home on #16 to pick up 3 skins and the Senator made a late appearance with a par, net birdie on #18 to pick-up the last 2 skins of the day.

All in, a great day. Golf game was shaky at times with 2 balls OB and only 8 greens in regulation. I did have only 1 3-putt on some tough greens, but 31 putts in total. Here’s my card.

Hack’s Continued Erratic Play

Our next planned game in Friday. I’m currently watching the Masters on 3 screens while writing this blog. Nothing could be better. The Masters’ app is awesome.

Cripple Creek, Gambling, Golf

Easter Golf & A New Nickname

It was a beautiful day at the Creek on Sunday, but only five (5) of us teed it up. The Sheriff’s back is acting up again and he had to bow out. We played as a fivesome – the Hack, the Voice, the Senator and the Jr. Senator teed off at 10:10, playing with one Mr. Dewey, who will now be known as the Striker. His controlled cut off the tee and excellent iron play crushed us. Even with 2 bad doubles on the back nine, Striker took home nine (9) skins to lead the band.

Your Hack borrowed Simon’s carryover skins game from Saturday and it was a big hit. I have to admit it took a while to settle things at the end because your Hack had a little trouble with math – long story, I’ll tell you sometime if you are interested.

The Jr. Senator came out of the pack strong with a birdie on the 4th hole to take four (4) skins. Your Hack was sitting 6 feet off the front of the green in two (2) but couldn’t convert his birdie to halve. Although it was not technically a 3-putt par it felt exactly the same as my true 3-putt bogey on #1 to start the round. I’d add one more 3-putt later in the round to crush my soul with 33 total putts.

Striker made a smooth par/net birdie on the 6th to pick-up two (2) skins as we headed to the 7th tee. I was skinless, but feeling good until I cold shanked my 7-iron int the pine trees on the right and lost the ball – easy double bogey as I re-teed after a futile search. Pars halved the hole and the 8th, when Striker absolutely flushed an approach into the 9th green, that rolled back off the back of the green and came to rest about 6 inches from the left back pin. Birdie and 3 more skins.

As we made the turn, the next three (3) holes were halved. Only Striker and I hit the green on #13, but a sloppy 3-putt by your Hack gave the hole to the Striker – 4 more skins. We played the par 5 14th hole from the up tees which definitely brought birdie into play. I hit my 2nd shot pin high right, but the Jr. Senator flushed a 6 iron onto the front of the green which led to an easy 2 putt birdie and a skin after I could not get up and down for my birdie.

We moved onto the 16th hole where I launched a 5 iron out of bounds (my fairly typical big right miss on this hole). This lead to another double and my second penalty shot of the round. Striker was the only player to make par adding another skin.

The skin value doubled on the last two (2) holes, but 17 was halved with par/net birdies from the Voice and Striker. I made par as well, but no strokes – this becomes important as we headed to 18. With wind blowing in our faces, the Voice and I hit good drives that left us about 200 yard in. Steve hit an indifferent approach short right and my hybrid was tugged a little left, pin high about 3 feet off the putting surface. The Voice got up and down for a bogey, net par and I left my birdie putt about 10 inches short – easy par to finish. However, the rules state that ties on 18 are “played off” on #17 by the players that halved #18. Steve’s par/net birdie on 17 beat my par giving him both skins to end the match.

This left the Senator and I as the only players failing to earn a skin. The Senator’s play was haphazard most of the day and he immediately headed to the range to try and work things out. I choose the more “Hack-like” approach to bad round and had a beer on the back deck with Striker. We’ll try again on Wednesday.

Here is my scorecard – 79 (8 over) with two 3-putts, two penalty shots, and no birdies. I hit 9 of 14 fairways, but was 3 over on the 4 fairways where I went left. It was the par 3’s that were a disaster – 5 over on the par 3’s for the day with penalty shots on two (2) of them and a 3-putt on one – just pitiful.

Cripple Creek, Golf

Skins Game With the “Old” Group

Your Hack had a fun throwback round of golf on Saturday with members of the “Group”. It was the regular Saturday game run by Simon who was kind enough to let me join in at the last minute. Friday’s bad weather cancelled my regular match and I had the itch to play and post my first “official” round of the season. In Delaware, April 1st is when we start posting scores for handicap purposes.

Before we dive into yesterday’s game, let’s talk about last year and some goals for 2021.

I ended last year with a 5.5 handicap, which was the highest “cap” I’ve had in quite a while. My low handicap of the year was 2.5 in May/June of 2020 and the lowest round of 2020 was a 74 from the hybrid black/white tees at Cripple Creek. Not an inspiring year of golf for your Hack as I battled recurring putting woes, some serious and unexpected hozzle rockets and, as always, the big right and big left misses off the tee.

Over the winter, I made some equipment changes and have seen some progress. I switched out my Scottie for a Bettinardi BB1 putter and have seen some improvement. A replacement set of Titleist irons (4 through PW) and a driving iron were added, as well as two (2) new wedges – Titleist Vokey SM7 Tour Chrome Wedges, 52 and 58 degree with 12 degree bounce. I remain committed to the Titleist Pro V1 ball but am starting to look for a new driver to replace my Taylormade M1 which is about 5 or 6 years of technology behind.

Goals for 2021:

  • Lower Handicap to 2.0 or better
  • Play more tournament golf
  • Birdie every hole at Cripple Creek from both the white & black tees
  • Make the cut at the Delaware Amateur
  • Win the Cripple Creek Club Championship & the Senior Club Championship

So, with that out of the way, let’s get back to the skin’s game with the Group. Simon organized a carryover skins game where the first 12 holes were worth $10 and the last 6 were worth $20 a piece. We had 13 players ($260 pot) and your Hack played with no strokes. If there was no skin on #18, the players who tied would go back to #17 scores to determine a winner and if they tied again, they would go back to the scores on #16 and so on until a winner was determined. As you’ll see this was important.

I was paired with Simon (11 strokes) and Dave W. (9) in the first group out. We were followed by a gold tee group consisting of little Dickie Moore (8), Frog (12), and JoJo (10). Fallon (8), Condo (13), Old Tom Morris (13), and the Monsignor (11) played from the white tees, while John Roth (3), his son-in-law (13) and son (not in the game) were the caboose.

Dave made a great birdie on #3 to lead off the scoring in our group. His great putt must have inspired your Hack, because I went on to birdie the next 3 holes to get to 2 under for the round. I missed a little 4 footer for par on 7 and then left another birdie putt on the lip on 8. I was feeling great sitting 160 yards from the pin on 9, but I had to hit a low cut under the branches of the big tree on the right to get the ball close to the pin. It was not be as I didn’t keep the ball low enough and it deflected off a branch and dropped. After a shanked wedge, a poor chip and 2 putts, I carded a double bogey to make the turn at 36 – 1 over par.

What followed on the back 9 was not pretty. A shanked wedge on 10 led to bogey, a pulled approach on 11 made it bogey-bogey to start the holes coming home. Pars on 12 and 13 settled things down, but an out of bounds, big right miss on 14 led to another double and a shanked chip, followed by a shanked bunker shot let to another double on 16. I started to see things spiral out of control, but made a good up and down on 17 for par and then left a makable birdie putt short on 18 for an ending par. Good finish, but an ugly 42 on the back to end the round at 7 over and post a 78 for the first official score of the season.

On the skin’s side of the match, all three (3) birdies cleared and my par on 18 was halved by JoJo’s bogey net par so we went to the 17th hole scores. Luckily, my up and down par beat JoJo’s “X” and I was able to add two (2) more skins to the total. Dave W.’s birdie on #3 held up and Old Tom Morris, Fallon, and Condo also grabbed skins. John Roth’s son-in law carded a 2, net 1 on #16 and grabbed a couple of carryover skins for a big win as well.

Golf Hack’s Card 4/2/31

It was a blast playing with the boys Saturday, although we fought through a tough pace of play as the groups out first that day at the Creek were SLOW. It took us almost 2 1/2 hours to play the back 9. I know it took a toll on me as I was completely out of my rhythm on the back. But, I need to be able to deal with this better if I’m going to play better tournament golf this year.

Cripple Creek, Golf

Where Did the Ball Go?

Let’s be honest. Cripple Creek is playing much like a pitch and putt these days. Temporary tees on all the pars 3’s reduce each one to a wedge shot. The temporary tee on #1 and the forward tees on 7, 8, 11, 14, and 15 significantly reduce the length of these holes and the temporary “green” on #14 make it a par 4 rather than a par 5 in our matches. Although the winter cold and wind, combined with the hairy and bumpy greens, make winter golf more difficult, the rounds and matches described in this blog need to be read with the understanding that the Creek is playing much easier these days.

With all that said, your Hack played well in yesterday’s match. The Senator, The Voice and I took on Dewey, Doc Martin and Decker in a best net ball of three (3) game. We were a little concerned that Doc’ and Decker’s 13 handicaps would be problematic with the Senator and The Voice playing to an 8 handicap, but the match proved competitive. Our threesome came in at 6 under compared to our opponent’s 4 under. Your Hack was 1 under on his own ball net on the front which definitely helped that cause.

The more interesting part of the day was the 9 point match in our group which flamed up quickly. The Senator had a tough day. Maybe tough is saying it too nicely. In reality it was SO bad that he wanted out of the bet after the front nine. Given that I had the biggest win of any of our matches this winter, except for a few notable Wolf games, his declaration that the 9 point match was ending after the ninth (9th) hole was understandable. The Voice was not exactly a factor on the front nine either, but played well enough to add a couple of net birdies for our team.

On the 10th green, The Voice and I realized that we needed a bet for the back nine. I was on the green in regulation and he was just off the front of the green after hitting his wedge a little fat. We agreed on a $25, automatic 2 down match with me giving him 2 shots (17 & 18). Of course The Voice immediately drained his long, uphill shot from off the green for birdie and I missed -1 down! Your hack then 3 putted for bogey on #11 and Steve made a great up and down for par – 2 down and even on the press. After we both missed makable birdie putts on #12, we went to the 90-100 yard shortened par 3, #13. The Voice hit a nice wedge to about 10 feet while mine went wide right about 25 feet beyond the hole. Remarkably, I made the birdie putt and Steve missed – 1 down and 1 up. Following a lost ball into the marsh on #14 which led to Steve conceding the hole we went even, 2 up, and even into #15.

Your Hack hit 3 wood on 15 about 30 yards short of the green, but the Voice made the mistake left and his drive ended up in the pond. My easy par beat his bogey – 1 up, 3 up, and 1 up with 3 holes to play. Steve hit it on the lower level of the green – the pin was back right on the upper level – while my wiped 6 iron ended up short right. After attempting a flop shot over the corner of the bunker, I found myself slightly over the green after my flop failed to hold. Steve putted up about 8 feet short and made a solid par to beat my bogey – even, 2 up, and even. My par on 17 was halved by his bogey, net par and we headed to the last. The Voice stroked, I’d won the first press and we were even on the remaining two (2) bets.

Although we are playing 18 from the forward tees this winter which makes the hole much easier, it’s still a good finishing hole for match play. There is trouble right, trees and out of bounds. On the left is the 9th hole and green if over hook or pull a drive. Unfortunately, that was the situation for the Voice – his drive ended up in the bunker facing the 9th green. Your Hack had hit on the his best drives of the day and was sitting in the left side of the fairway about 150 or less to the green – or so we thought. I’d made such good contact on the shot, that I reached down and grabbed my tee after seeing the ball drawing from the right side of the fairway. However, as I was walking up the fairway I didn’t see my little white friend – anywhere! Steve hit is 2nd shot a bit heavy, and then his 3rd ricocheted off a tree and he was sitting 3 about 100 yards from the green. We still hadn’t found my ball. All of us walked up and down the fairway from 200 to 125 yards out looking for a plugged ball, a ball hiding under leaves, something. To be honest, we went a bit over the time limit, but still couldn’t come up with your Hack’s Titleist. I conceded the hole and The Voice was able to win the match two (2) ways to my one. Rub of the green?

Although the ending was strange, I was pleased with my play. I was 2 over par standing on the 18th tee – 11 pars, 4 bogeys and 2 birdies through 17 holes with 2 three putts. Nothing that can be posted this time of year, but the swing feels better and I’m looking forward to the Spring.

We have plans to play on Sunday, but it looks like the weather is not going to cooperate as we had rain overnight and it looks to rain most the day, off and on, today. More rain forecast overnight into Sunday. At least we have the WGC at The Concession to watch.

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.

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.