Your Hack played in the Rookery Pro-Am yesterday (Wednesday) benefitting the First Tee of Delaware. I joined the team of Ryan Diehl (Cripple Creek Assistant Pro), Andy Hewitt, and Mike Robel as the entry from Cripple Creek. Each team competed at 85% of handicap, two (2) best balls of the team. The event was played at Rookery South a 6,500 yard (back tees) public course located just north of Lewes, DE, directly adjacent to the Route 1 highway. As the course website describes it . . .”2004 Senior British Open winner, Pete Oakley and course visionary superintendent Chris Adkins, have teamed up in designing a water laden, golfer friendly challenge just off the picturesque Broadkill River.”
With 109 players (27 teams), we knew it would be a slow trek over a course that had received over seven (7) inches of rain in the past week. Surprisingly, the course was in relatively good shape, although the fairways were soft and the greens a little bumpy, but faster than we would have thought given the recent rain. Kudos to great work done the super to have the course in such terrific shape.
Your Hack was tired after working the polls at the Indian River High School polling location from 6am to 8:30pm on Election Day. Arriving at the Rookery late and stiff, I managed to warm-up by hitting 5 balls with my 7-iron on the range and putting for 2 minutes on the practice green. Then we were off, starting on the quirky 402 yard 5th hole, a dogleg right par 4 with trees guarding the front of the green unless you hit your drive far enough in the right side of the fairway past the dogleg. I didn’t and only managed to get 20 yards in front of the green in 2 and then making bogey with a poor pitch shot. I had an eerie feeling it might be one of “those” days. Our team only managed a single par, so we started the day one over.
The team played well over the next 3 holes and managed to get to 3 under par going into the short par 3 ninth hole. All four of us hit it close. I was about 15 feet for birdie and Robel was a little under 6 feet. Ryan and Andy were close as well. Guess what happened? We left the green still 3 under, lamenting so many missed putts over the first five (5) holes of the tournament.
We added two (2) more birdies (1 was net) on #10 taking us to 5 under. My routine par left your Hack at 1 over for the day and my mental goal of scoring within the Top 7 professional scores (as an amateur) seemed to be in reach. Well, not really. I proceeded to make four (4) straight bogeys, two (2) of them from the fairway with pitching wedge in my hand – sad. My putting was ok, but I had trouble hitting greens and chipping was off.
The team overall continued to generate multiple birdie opportunities but some lackluster putting only allowed us to pick-up a few more under par. Robel – “the world’s best putter” – finally made a putt for birdie during this stretch. Andy hit some of the most unbelievable shots I’ve seen in a while, but his putter remained cold. Ryan, after a strong start as our pro, lost his swing mid round and stacked a couple of bogeys to negate some early birdies.
Your Hack finally made his first birdie of the day on our 11th hole of the day draining a mini-bomb from about 25 feet. I closed out the back nine with 3 straight pars and we made the turn again to finish the first four (4) holes on the front. Another par and then a bad bogey on a par 3 left me 5 over for the day.
Our final two (2) holes were short par 4’s. Andy drove it through the green on the 305 yard #3. Ryan was just short of the green, Robel was about 60-70 yards out in the left rough after hitting 3 wood and I was 20 yards short with a good look at the flag. Robel’s wedge flew to about 8 feet, I spun a little lob wedge to about 5 feet and Andy chipped back to 10-12 feet. Ryan tried to hit a low, spinning chip a groove low and it careened off the flag stick ending up 15 feet from the hole. He calmly drained the putt for a birdie. Andy and I also made birdie and the team was 8 under for the day.
The last hole is a 285 yard, short par 4 that requires a carry over a pond in front of the green. Ryan and Robel laid up, my drive was pulled left and landed 20 yards short, but carried the pond. Andy drove the front of the green causing the group in front of us to ask for a drug test when we got up to our shots. Unfortunately, only one birdie resulted and we ended the day 9 under. Your Hack had his only 3 putt of the day and ended the tournament at 5 over – shooting 76. Goal not accomplished as a 72 would have been needed to place within the Top 7 professional scores for the day.
Our 9 under score was out of the money. The winners came in at 20 under taking first place by 4 strokes. The top 7 teams were paid and we finished out of the money by 2 shots – we can only look back at the number of really makable birdie putts that we missed over the day. And, unfortunately, Robel’s 5 foot 8 inch shot on #9 was edged out for “Closest to the Pin” by 6 inches. Nothing special all day for our whole team except that we had a blast playing – even if it took 4 1/2 hours.
Your Hack finished the day with 33 putts, hitting 54% fairways and 61% GIR. 2 birdies, 9 pars and 7 bogeys left me 5 over for the day. The good news? The tournament raised over $4,500 for the First Tee of Delaware.
It’s the Hootie 2020 Tournament this weekend at Cripple Creek and I’ll be back Saturday evening with an update. ‘Til then – keep it in the short grass.