Playing Golf With This Guy

Because the Cripple Creek clubhouse was closed over the weekend due to an employee testing positive for Covid-19, only 4 of use showed up to play on Sunday. The clubhouse has been professionally cleaned and employees tested, but the staff was not working. Walking only, no carts and no club pull-carts. Planning for my 100 Hole Hike, I only carried 8 clubs and left the driver at home. If I’m going to walk 100 holes playing golf, I need to lighten the load as they say.

On the first tee, we decided to play a better ball Nassau match, Dr. Gerard and myself against Fran and Steve. Unfortunately on the first tee, I also lost the match. Fran hadn’t played in a month and I agreed to give him 6 shots – oops! Steve got 5 and Dr. Gerard got 7 shots.

Off we went with zero warmup as there were no practice balls on the range. My partner and I bogeyed the first two holes and were lucky to remain even. Over the next four holes, Steve was everywhere on the planet. He’s just come back from 4 days down south at golf school and he’s a poor student. He told us he couldn’t “just concentrate on one swing thought.” I parred the next 4 holes and we were one down, as Fran made a series of pars and bogey/net pars and on #6 made a 4 net 3 to win the hole against my par. Dr. Gerard and Steve were both struggling, leaving me to hold off Fran who’d evidently found his game after a month off.

I won 8 with a par to bring the match back even, but 3-putted the 9th for bogey to lose the front – 1 down. After making what I think was his first par of the day on #10, Steve looked me in the eye and said something about a 36 coming on the back to go with the 45 he shot on the front. Sure Steve, you do that all the time. Although, with his music blasting from the iPhone in his back pocket, I might have not heard him right.

Well, I was wrong again as he ground out 4 pars in a row to match me and the back nine remained even through #13. My partner was also beginning to come alive and he won the 14th hole when I made a mess with a double. That put us 1 up on the back and even on the overall match. A win on 15 with a par, put us 2 up and even on the first press of the day.

Hole 16 is a tough par 3, long and into the wind on Sunday. Steve hit is drive into the front left bunker (the pin was back) and his partner yanked a shot left into the water – out of the hole. My partner was short right, while I hit a 3 hybrid through the wind onto the middle of the green. Dr. Gerard hit his chip a little too hard and ended up 20 feet beyond the pin, while Steve hit a really good bunker shot to about 8 feet – I guess he found his swing thought on the back 9! I rolled my birdie putt about 4 1/2 feet beyond the cup and my partner – who was getting a stroke on the hole, missed his par net birdie attempt. Steve calmly, well as calmly as Steve can act, knocked in his bending 8 footer for a great sandy par. Both my partner and I made, so the matched remained 2 and 0 on the back.

Everyone, except your Golf Hack, stroked on 17 and 18 which are the hardest holes on the course (#1 and #3 rated holes). Hole 17 is a long par 4 with the approach shot over water. I hit the green in regulation and was about 25 feet below the cup for birdie. My partner hit two into the drink and was out of the hole, while our opponents were both on in regulation and would surely make a 5, net 4. I hit my birdie putt at full ramming speed – luckily it hit the flagstick dead square and dropped in for birdie. My partner and I remained 2 up and even on the back.

As you might have guess, the scenario was similar on #18 – everyone stroked except me. I hit my 3 wood in the middle of the fairway and was 182 from the front flag. My 5-iron was right at the pin, but hit “a groove low” as they say and ended up about 2 to 3 yards short of the green. Our opponents made bogey, net par, while I make a poor chip and then missed an 8 footer over the left edge of the hole.

The overall result, we lost the front, won the back, tied the overall and lost the press 1 down – $10 out of my Venmo account to Steve and a reminder that he’s just a better gambler than I am.

(Steve, Dave and I at Casa in 2019)

Steve wasn’t right about shooting 36 on the back nine, but he was close enough. The whole round was classic. After a miserable front nine, he found his game and gave me fits on the back. He picked the right partner on the first tee and Fran won the front and kept them in the match. It’s one of the reasons I love playing golf with this guy. He’s got a big heart.

As I said at the beginning, I left driver home. Using my 3 wood, I hit 64% of my fairways and the “big right miss” was nowhere to be found. Although I hit 56% of green, I had 35 putts and ended the day shooting 77. A double bogey, 5 bogeys and only one birdie – 6 over.


Playing Golf With A Bum

My Pal Bumly (last winter)

I played a round of golf with a Bum yesterday, more specifically “Bumly”. Mike is referred to at the club by various nicknames – Bumly, Judge, The Atomic Bum, The Atomic Judge, or simply Bum.

A retired administrative judge for the NRC, Bumly used to play the game fairly well. A single digit handicap in the early days of the “Group”, time has shorted both his length and attention span. At 80 years of age, our Bum now carries a 17 handicap playing from the Gold (senior) Tees. Playing with him as a partner is always interesting and fun. We paired together in the recent Chowder Cup alternate shot match last Saturday afternoon and were able to barely obtain a tied match after a parade of snipped drives, missed short putts, and approach shots that always seemed to come up short.

Somewhat depressed by his self-perceived sub-par performance, Mike wanted to partner up again yesterday and take on Cookie and the Mister Robel’ in a 2 point match – one point for the better ball each hole and one point for the lowest team total. As befit his cheapskate image, our Bum was attired in a 2002 Chowder Cup vest and proudly announced the stakes at $5.

While he may not be much of a strategic partner in a match, Mike is a truly authentic and genuine person. But, as we like to say on the practice tee, he has a big brain, but there’s not always a lot between the ears. Poor Mike takes quite a bit of good natured “abuse” from our golf group, but he takes it well and is quite often quick with a response that can strike the heart of the matter with precision.

Graduating at the top of his class from Notre Dame law school, our Bum is very intelligent. I like this because he counts my dual Chemistry/Philosophy major wife -Susan – as one of his few friends that can hold up her side of a conversation with him. Mike adores Susan, which makes me very happy. He is also the kind of person that will go out of his way help anyone in need, showing a high level of empathy toward others. I like that as well.

The Bum started our match with a heeled drive that carried at least 75 yards. He uses a white ball on the 1st and 9th tees because these holes straddle the practice area, which is commonly filled with his preferred yellow colored golf ball. It was a good thing, because his drive ended in a spot in the thick left rough surrounded by at lest 15 yellow practice balls. He then proceeded to top a 3 wood about 30 more yards, before floating another shot that landed, and stopped, about 30 yards short of the green. Ultimately, he got up and down for Bogey which allowed us to tie the total score.

Unfortunately, that terrific chip and one putt, was not an indicator of his future play as my partner. Luckily, our opponents played worse on the front nine and we ended up taking the match – a heady $5 for my piggybank. Cookie was so disgusted by his poor play, that he went home halfway through the 10th hole, ending the team match.

Unburdened by the weight of carrying his partner for 9 holes, Mr. Robel’ decided to go on a heater, birding 10 with a downhill 10 footer and then birdieing 11 with a chip in from the fringe. After missing 2 makable birdie opportunities on 13 and 14, and a bogey on the tough par 3 16th hole, Robel’ birdied 17 and finished the front nine with a sterling 35 – 1 under par.

Unfortunately, it was paired with a 43 from the front nine and resulted in $0 in winnings for the man who always cashes in our Group games. Your Retired Golf Hack was his usual 3 over par through 13 holes and then proceeded to bogey 14, 15, and 16 and then blow his drive out of bounds on 18. The resulting double bogey 6 ended the round at 79. Two double bogeys, 35 putts, 10 GIR and only 9 fairways hit. I couldn’t expect anything more these days.

A final note: 1 or 2 employees at the Club tested positive for Covid and the clubhouse is now closed through Sunday for a professional cleaning and employee testing. No carts will be available for the next fews days, but the course will be open for walking only. We are rained out today, but have a game planned Sunday – wonder how many of the guys will show.