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.


“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.