Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Foreseeable Zone of Danger

Many of my followers may be familiar with the personal injury case of Drs. Kapoor and Anand. The two doctors were frequent golf partners and were playing on the Dix Hills Park Golf Course, a nine-hole Long Island, New York course. After hitting their second shots on the first hole, a 283-yard par-4, each player went looking for his ball. Dr. Anand's ball was in the fairway and Dr. Kapoor's ball was in the left rough. The fact that neither player was on the green in two strokes on a 283-yard par-4 should tell you something about the quality of play.

It is hard to imagine what happened next. Dr. Kapoor "shanked" his next shot and hit Dr. Anand right in the eye blinding him in one eye. The third player in the group testified that Dr. Anand was about 20 feet away from Dr. Kapoor and about 50 degrees away from the intended line of flight. Dr. Kapoor testified that Dr. Anand was farther away and at an angle of 60 to 80 degrees. The court held that Dr. Anand was not in the "foreseeable zone of danger".

The trial court dismissed Dr. Anand's lawsuit holding that one of the inherent risks of playing golf is that you may be hit with a golf ball and every golfer assumes that risk within reasonable limits. The evidence seemed to indicate that Dr. Kapoor did not provide advance warning that he was about to hit his shot or yell "fore" once he realized the shot was off-line and heading toward Dr. Anand. Some may argue that Dr. Anand assumed the risk of injury simply by proceeding in front of Dr. Kapoor. Professional golfers always stand behind or to the side of the golfer hitting his shot, but it is commonplace and oftentimes "required practice" at most golf course for golfers to play "ready golf" and each to go to his respective golf ball and wait to hit. This speeds up play. Of course, if the forward golfer's ball is in the line of flight of the other golfer the forward golfer waits outside of the line of flight and the "foreseeable zone of danger" and oftentimes behind a tree as protection.

The New York State Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's dismissal of the lawsuit holding that a person participating in a sport consents to certain risks that are inherent in and arise out of the nature of the sport generally and flow from such participation, but that all participants owe a duty of care to their co-participants. In order to determine liability, the court must weigh the duty of care against the assumed risks. In this case, Dr. Kapoor's failure to warn in advance did not amount to intentional or reckless conduct, and the possibility of being struck by a ball reflects a commonly appreciated risk of golf. Implicit in the court's holding is that the plaintiff was not in the "foreseeable zone of danger".

The plaintiff's attorney argued that the "foreseeable zone of danger" differs with the skill of the golfer and there were disputed questions of fact in this case so the case should not be dismissed without a trial. I agree with the plaintiff's attorney. Although it puts a greater burden on the golfer and the court, there is no question that the "foreseeable zone of danger" playing with a professional golfer or even Chad Feldheimer is much small than playing with me. Chad is about a 4 handicap golfer. When he is hitting a 150-yard shot his "foreseeable zone of danger" is practically zero assuming the other player is not standing next to the flag stick. On the other hand, from 150 yards my "foreseeable zone of danger" is probably 10 yards on either side of the green and I have a duty to provide advance warning to any person in my "foreseeable zone of danger" before hitting (I hope this post does not come back to bite me someday!). That does not mean that from time-to-time we will not hit an errant shot outside of our respective "foreseeable zones of danger", but it would be unusual. Based on what little we know about Dr. Kapoor, I would say that his "foreseeable zone of danger" from 150 yards is probably anywhere in front of him. Theoretically, his "foreseeable zone of danger" diminishes as he gets closer to the green so whether Dr. Anand was in Dr. Kapoor's "foreseeable zone of danger" should have gone to trial.

A copy of the Court of Appeals memorandum decision in this case is available at the following link: Anand v. Kapoor, 222, New York State Court of Appeals.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What Were We Thinking!

I have been hiking with SO and friends almost weekly and walking the golf course. I talked my friend the Gardener into walking the golf course and he bought a pull cart for his clubs. Chad Feldheimer, the young gun, refuses to walk. But the benefit for me is that I put my clubs on Chad's cart and I walk without having to carry my clubs. It is almost like having a caddy!

A few weeks ago, the Gardener and I walked Papago Golf Course, which is Phoenix's best municipal golf course. We usually play from the blue tees, which are 6,800 yards, but for some reason we started playing from the black tees, which are over 7,300 yards and once we realized what we were doing, it was too late so we stayed the course (no pun intended). From the black tees, Papago is a real man's test of golf. There are six par-4s over 440 yards. The par-5s average about 550 yards and three of the par-3s are over 235 yards! The course rating is 75.0 and the slope rating is 130.

We teed off on Sunday afternoon at about noon and finished in less than 4 hours walking. One single playing in a golf cart played through and otherwise we did not run into anyone else on the course or have anyone coming up from behind. The weather was absolutely perfect -- about 75 degrees with sunny skies and no wind. Papago used to be the busiest municipal golf course in Phoenix -- about 100,000 rounds per year! Golfers would park in the parking lot at 4 a.m. in the morning on the weekends in order to get a weekend tee time. The course got so much play that it fell into disrepair. In the mid-2000s the City of Phoenix and the Arizona Golf Foundation (an affiliate of the Arizona Golf Association) jointly undertook renovation of the golf course to restore it to its original luster. The Foundation did a great job on the golf course renovations but ran out of money before it could complete the new clubhouse (after razing the old clubhouse). A double-wide trailer stands as the clubhouse until there is enough money in the City budget to build the new clubhouse. However, in order to pay for the renovations, the City and the operator raised the in-season daily fee rate to $50 plus a cart fee, which out-priced a lot of the muni-golfers. Although Papago is a good as, if not better than, most of the semi-private and resort courses, golfers that are paying $65+ per round are generally not willing to pay that amount for a municipal course unless it is Bethpage Black or Torrey Pines.

Papago is a really well-designed walking course. You walk off of the green and the next tee box is usually within 20 to 30 yards -- unless you are playing from the black tees. We dropped our golf bags at the blue or white tee boxes and then started looking for the black tees. In some cases we needed binoculars to find the black tees. We then trudged back 50 to 90 yards from the front tees to our tee box. Sometimes the beginning of the fairway looked so far away I thought there was no way to reach the fairway, let alone reach the green in regulation. By the time that we got to the 18th hole, which is 464 yards long and about 50 yards back from the white tees, we were dragging and just trying to get to the clubhouse (or double-wide trailer) without too much damage. The Gardener shot an 87 and I shot an 88. With a 75.0 course rating and a 130 slope rating, my differential was 11.3, which is one of my best rounds of the year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Heresy! A 12-Hole Round of Golf

I kind of lost interest in my blog for the last month or so. I have been playing a lot of golf and the "World Of" trip to St. Andrews is coming together so there is a lot to talk about, but it is hard to find an hour or more to write a good post. But since my son Tyler and the Joker are pining for more posts here goes.

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder (yes, it does get cold in Arizona; we are in the Sonoran Desert!), the daily window for playing 18 holes of golf dwindles. I played four times in a row in a three week period recently and did not once finish 18 holes! One time playing at Aguila Golf Course the weather was so nasty (cold, windy and drizzling) that the Gardener and I quit after 14 holes. Another time playing at Phoenix Country Club with Fred Flintstone we started after 2 p.m. and simply ran out of daylight. At Stonecreek Golf Club, Chad Feldheimer and I were supposed to tee off at 11:30 and we were delayed for an hour because of early-morning frost on the greens and then simply bad course management and after 4 hours and 30 minutes we quit on the 14th hole. Finally, playing with Digger at Moon Valley Country Club, we simply miscalculated how quickly we could play 18 holes and did not finish before darkness.

These rounds got me thinking about why golf is 18 holes instead of 12, 14 or 20 holes. As usual, everything in golf revolves around St. Andrews. Around 1764, St. Andrews converted from 22 holes to 18 holes (actually St. Andrews had 11 holes and the golfer played each hole twice). In 1858, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews issued new rules for its members; Rule 1 stated "one round of the Links or 18 holes is reckoned a match unless otherwise stipulated". However, I like the legend that 18 holes aligns perfectly with the number of shots in a fifth of scotch -- one shot per hole.

I know it is heresy to talk about playing less than 18 holes of golf, but the idea of playing 12 holes in 2 1/2 hours is intriguing. While spending 5 to 6 hours at the golf course (including warm-up time and a round at the 19th hole) sounds fine to me, there are a lot of people with busy lives that do not want to spend the entire day at the golf course. For a while it would be cool to shoot in the high 50s or low 60s and even break the fabled 59! Existing golf courses may have to be reconfigured a bit, but the courses could either rotate out one 6 for maintenance or players could play two of the three 6 hole layouts. New courses could be built on smaller parcels of land to accommodate 12 holes instead of 18 and would require less water and maintenance. Assuming a course reduced its daily fee, it could make up the difference with lower operating costs and more rounds.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Original Tea Partiers

Last Sunday everyone in the continental United States turned their clocks back one hour ending Daylight Savings Time, except in Arizona. Arizonans do not turn their clocks back because they chose not to observe daylight savings time (even Indiana now follows daylight savings time, although a portion of the state is on Eastern Daylight Savings Time and a portion of the state is on Central Daylight Savings Time). The theory in Arizona (1) Arizonans are the original "tea partiers" (well maybe not the original tea party; I will give that honor to the Bostonians) and simply anti-establishment, or (2) it is so hot in Arizona that adding an additional hour of daylight would cause more of an energy crunch with air conditioners working longer and harder, or (3) following the anti-establishment argument, Daylight Savings Time is just a way for big businesses to capitalize on more sunlight during these months and Arizona refused to comply.

In any event, the effect of not following daylight savings time is, first and foremost, confusion for the rest of the country, and second, it gets dark by 5:45 in the winter so you have to schedule your golf appropriately. Last Sunday, Chad Feldheimer and I had a tee time at 11:48 at Stonecreek Golf Club. Assuming a 4 hour 30 minute round of golf, we had an hour leeway. We teed off 45 minutes late and made the turn in 2 hours 40 minutes. We finally walked (rode) off the course at the 15th tee at 5:15! I am officially taking Stonecreek Golf Club off of my list as my "home course" (at least for the winter season).

On Friday, Fred Flintstone invited me and one of his clients to play golf at Phoenix Country Club. The course was recently overseeded, and unlike the public courses that permit play two weeks after overseeding, the private courses usually close for a month for the overseeding. The course was spectacular! The greens were rolling fast and true. There were almost no ballmarks on the greens. Phoenix Country Club has my number. It is an old-style Midwestern course, flat and fairly narrow fairways with strategically placed trees and very small greens. I never drive the ball well at Phoenix and I am always scrambling to make bogey. It makes for a long day of golf, except that it is a beautiful walk in the park. Invariably, Fred shoots an 82. At the first tee, after Fred striped his drive right down the middle with his hockey swing, I told our playing partner that Fred would shoot an 82. Fred chimed in that we could just write down the 82, skip the golf and begin drinking in the bar. He shot a 43 on the front and needed a 39 on the back for an 82. No. 18 is a 500+ yard par 5. Fred was on the fringe of the green in 3 strokes and sunk a 20 foot putt for a birdie to shoot a 39 on the back and an 82 for the round! I shot a miserable 91 and I do not think I hit more than 2 fairways. However, the shot of the day was my drive on No. 16. I duck hooked the ball and it hit the wall of the restroom and the exterior wall of the maintenance area. After looking for the ball for a few minutes in the high rough I gave up. Our playing partner went to use the rest room and there on the floor under the urinal was my Bridgestone golf ball. Since the restroom is a part of the golf course and there was no applicable local rule, I had to hit out from under the urinal left handed (see picture below)!

Monday, November 1, 2010

You Need an MBA in Logistics to Play Golf

This is the week that the Gardener's wife permits him to play golf. Chad Feldheimer also was able to play this weekend, but before Chad would play I had to negotiate a tee time, golf course and penalty for slow play. Chad is a long-suffering Detroit Lions fan and has the special NFL television package to watch and be tortured by his beloved Lions. The logistics were as follows: The Lions game begins at 10 a.m., Arizona time, and ends around 1 p.m.; assume travel time to the golf course of 20-30 minutes; sunset is 5:37 p.m.; and a round of golf on a Phoenix public golf course takes at least 4 1/2 hours (especially if it is "cart paths only"). You do the math! The last time the Gardener and I played we finished in the dark and the Gardener double-bogeyed the last two holes to ruin an excellent round, which he blamed on the darkness (I will give him the benefit of the doubt).

After negotiating for two days with Chad I had an epiphany. The Gardener and I would tee off at 12:30 and Chad could join us after the game. If there was enough daylight I would drive the cart while Chad finished the holes he missed. Another win-win solution for the great negotiator!

By the time that negotiations were completed and documents signed, the only course that fit our parameters was Vistal Golf Club. I like Vistal. There is a lot of elevation change and it has some beautiful views of South Mountain and downtown Phoenix. It plays over 7,000 yards from the blue tees, but the fairways are pretty wide. The greens and tee boxes were overseeded, but the fairways were not not. The fairways were still pretty green and the rough was pretty thick, but not too penal.

The Gardener and I teed off at 12:30. On the 3rd hole, the Gardner bent down to pick up his golf ball after holing out and he could not move. Getting old is hell! He was done for the day. He was nice enough to ride with me while trying to loosen up his back, but he was in a lot of pain. On the 6th hole, Chad finally showed up. We drove the Gardener back to the clubhouse, helped him get his bag off of the cart and sent him home to ice his back. Chad and I teed off at 2 p.m. and there was no one in front of us. I birdied the first hole, hit the ball very well, did not have any blow up holes (except I hit the ball in the water on the par 3 3rd hole) and shot a 41 on the front 9. Chad had not played in a month, did not hit any practice balls and was roping his driver as well as I have ever seen him hit it. On the 5th hole, I offered Chad some friendly advice that he needed to keep the ball to the right for the best angle into the green. He roped another drive right where he was aiming and hit it into the bunker. His second shot hit the lip of the bunker and went into the desert and he ended up with a 7 on the hole and a 40 on the front 9.

I did not hit the ball quite as well on the back 9, but not that bad either. However, I was in every fairway bunker on the back 9 and had a double-bogey barrage to shoot a 48 on the back 9 and an 89 for the round. Chad had bookend 40s for a pedestrian 80 (for him) even though he played better than his score. We played in less than 3 hours and finished just before 5 p.m.! That gave us plenty of time to get home before the ghosts and goblins starting knocking on our doors for Halloween.

Monday, October 25, 2010

2012 Ryder Cup Captain

The Ryder Cup just ended and the next Ryder Cup is two years away, but the PGA will name the next American captain before the end of the year. Rumor has it that the odds-on-favorite is Davis Love III, but I am sure that DL III will find some way to choke and lose his lead.

At the McGladrey Classic, which DL III hosted at the Sea Island, Georgia, Resort, he began his normal Sunday slide by waffling to the press when asked if he wanted to captain the 2012 Ryder Cup team, saying "[i]f players ask me, are talking to me about it and they want me to do it, that's what I want to do. That's what it boils down to.” Not exactly the enthusiasm that the PGA would like to hear from its captain-in-waiting.

Assuming that the PGA will not call back the Zinger (Paul Azinger, the 2008 captain), the choices are pretty meager. Lee Janzen? Larry Nelson? Jeff Sluman? Those three do not create much excitement. Freddie Couples would be a good choice (if the Ryder Cup were played earlier in the year, Corey Pavin might have chosen Boom Boom as a player this year). Mark O'Meara would be interesting if his relationship with Tiger Woods is still solid.

DL III could not stand up to the pressure of the "World Of", let alone the Ryder Cup. His personal Ryder Cup record is 9 wins, 12 losses and 5 halves, not the stellar performance you would like from your captain, but the pickings may be slim. How about bringing back Tom Watson? He had a renaissance as a player the last few years and is the last U.S. Ryder Cup captain to win in Europe. Thinking outside the box, how about Jerry Colangelo? He brought USA Basketball back to prominence by winning an Olympic Gold Medal and the World Championships. Maybe he could do the same for American golf.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why I Will Never Retire!

When high-powered executives and business people retire, a very small minority travel and enjoy their retirement. The vast majority still have those competitive juices and control issues and have to find another outlet. Some become members of the board of directors of their homeowners association and fight with the developer about the turnover of the community's golf course or with the individual homeowners over basketball hoops, satellite dishes or the like. Those executives that belong to private country clubs ands retire become involved in the management of the country club. Some become members of the club's handicap committee and send letters like the following to the club's golf members (This is a real letter. I could not make this up myself!):

Dear Member:

Due to the rampant cheating and sandbagging on the golf course [editor's note: I took a little editorial license and added this prefatory language because the Handicap Committee is too proper to say this], your Handicap Committee will be implementing a new handicap monitoring system. The Handicap Committee has worked diligently to produce a system that will insure the ongoing integrity of our handicap system while minimizing the reporting requirements of our members.

The new system, which is monitored weekly by the Handicap Committee, creates a computerized comparison of all rounds recorded on the daily tee sheet generated by the golf shop as compared to the rounds posted to the Arizona Golf Association’s (AGA) handicap system. If a round is reflected on the tee sheet but has not been posted to the AGA system, an exception is noted.

In the case of all exceptions, the member in question will receive an e-mail noting the date of the round along with a request to contact the golf shop in order to resolve the exception in a timely fashion. Barring extraordinary circumstances, the Handicap Committee expects that exceptions will be discussed with the golf shop and resolved within five (5) days of receipt of the exception notice.

If the matter is not resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the member and the Handicap Committee within such timeframe, a penalty score may be posted pursuant to Section 8-4 of the USGA Handicap System Handbook. Your Handicap Committee and the golf staff thank you in advance for your efforts in insuring the integrity of this game we play.

Your Handicap Committee

Monday, October 18, 2010

World Of XXVII - Get Away Day

Through six rounds of the "World Of" I do not think that we completed a round in less than 4 1/2 hours, even though we had the courses pretty much to ourselves. A lot of time was spent whoofing at one another, looking for lost balls in the wetlands, counting strokes and negotiating bets. Our tee time for Tuesday morning was 8 a.m. and I had a 2 p.m. flight back to Phoenix. I was worried that (a) I would miss the flight or (b) I would have to travel after playing golf and without showering (I was more worried about my seat mate on that issue), but I did not want to leave my buddies with 5 players (the only number of golfers on a men's golf trip worse than 7!) for the final round (Cameo left at 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning). Luckily, Turtle decided not to play since he had a 6 hour drive home, so "World Of" XXVII was down to a final foursome of Stinger, Arnie, Smooth and the Mouth.

Tuesday morning was cool and clear and our final foursome pulled out the long pants and golf vests looking very dapper. Turtle and I went out to the course to wish our comrades-in-arms good luck and to pick up our golf bags. Back at the house, we took Stinger's golf cart and tooled around the project, heading out to the sand dunes and the beach. After Turtle left, I putzed around the house until my cab picked me up at noon to begin the 12 hour odyssey back to Phoenix. I had a 3 hour layover in Houston and my plane was delayed for another 2 1/2 hours because of high winds and hail in Phoenix (check out the videos!). Sky Harbor Airport was shut down for almost 2 hours.

However, I do have the following blow-by-blow description of the epic final round of "World Of" XXVII from the Mouth:

"For those of you who missed the Golf Channel's special Grey Goose report from Camp Creek last night and Stuart Scott's Sports Center interview with Stinger and Arnie after clinching the final match of World Of XXVII with a par on the 18th hole (the 126th hole of competition), I will confirm that the final round lived up to the high standards of "World Of" competition. Arnie and Stinger took the early lead when Arnie -- in vintage Fat Jack style (huh!) -- ran in a 25 footer for birdie on Number 1 after conceding a four-footer to the opposition for par. That set the tone for the day. The front side had 3 lead changes and was not decided until Arnie and Stinger won the 9th hole for a one up victory. The back nine featured more lead changes, a couple of putts for "toppers" just when one side or the other seemed to be seizing control of the match, and fittingly came down to the last 2 holes. With Smooth and the Mouth clinging to a one-up lead on the back 9 and the 18 all even, Arnie again rose to the challenge by knocking in a 20 footer for birdie on 17 and using his stroke on 18 to ice the match. While the level of play was at times remarkably high for a Day 4 final round, it also included a whiff, a shank from the middle of the fairway by the only guy who at that point had not already incurred a penalty stroke on the hole, more than one ball putted off the green, and a trip into the muck searching for an errant tee shot that resulted in Arnie finding a ball he had lost in an earlier round (alas, he would lose it again before the match was done). All in all, a fitting conclusion to a great "World Of"."

And the follow-up from Stinger:

"In the interest of full disclosure, the Mouth was kind enough not to fully report that Arnie won the match on his own, with no help from his partner, other than complimenting his good play, tending the flag, raking the occasional bunker, and doing a little bit of Turtle-like coaching. The ball hawking was the result of yours truly diving head long into the driver yips, with no stress reliever available to assuage the ginzu-knife like tempo. By the end, I couldn't draw the driver back. But, as is the mantra of the "World Of", it is not about how well you play golf but being out on the course with your good buddies (and I had to work hard on that one)."

See you next year at St. Andrews!

World Of XXVII - Day 3

Day 3 of the "World Of" was even nicer than the previous day if that is possible. When we left for the course in the morning, the temperature was in the high 60s and the sky was clear. The high temperature for the day was supposed to be about 75. Spectacular!

Sometime during the middle of the night, the Big Man and the Big Dog (an interesting pairing) stole out of the house and back to reality, leaving us with our normal prime integer, 7, players. In the morning we played at Shark's Tooth and played our own ball. My two-man game partner was Cameo. I was 1 under bogey through 5 but had 3 double bogeys on the last 4 holes for a 46 on the front 9. Cameo and I "hammed and egged" it pretty well so when I had a good hole, he had a bad one and vice versa. On the back 9, I had a kick-in birdie on the 173 yard par-3 and a 44 for a 90 total. On the par-4 15th hole, Cameo and I were both in the collection area adjacent to the green when we had a T.C. Chen moment. While I have done this more times than I want to remember it is very unusual for a good player like Cameo to chili-dip his chip shot and hit the ball a second time on the follow-through.

The most famous double hit was in the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. T.C. Chen was leading the championship in the final round by 4 strokes when he double-hit his fourth shot from the heavy rough at the par-4 5th hole. After a penalty, a chip and two putts, Chen made an 8 and lost by 1 stroke to Andy North. Interestingly, under Rule 14-4, you count the stroke for the first hit and add a penalty stroke to your score for the second hit. There is no additional penalty in stroke play.

The United States made a stirring comeback in the singles matches on Monday at Celtic Manor. Losing 9 1/2 to 6 1/2 heading into the singles, the U.S. needed 14 points to tie the Europeans and retain the Ryder Cup. With victories by Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jeff Overton and a stirring comeback by Rickie Fowler to halve his match and a disappointing half by Stewart Cink, the U.S. and Europe were tied with 13 1/2 points each and one match remaining, but Hunter Mahan was trailing Graeme McDowell two down with two holes to go after McDowell's birdie on No. 16 (after the approach shot, fast-forward to about 1:50 on the video). On the par-3 17th hole, both players missed the green and Mahan chili-dipped his chip shot and ultimately conceded the hole and the match. While everyone will remember Mahan's chip shot at 17, McDowells' birdie on No. 16 and two missed 4 footers by Stewart Cink were really the difference. If Cink makes either putt to beat Rory McIlroy, the U.S. keeps the Ryder Cup with a tie.

In the afternoon we headed back to Camp Creek. It felt like we had not played that course for weeks having played the last 3 rounds at Shark's Tooth. We were a little disappointed because the course superintendent had sanded the greens since our last visit, but it turned out the greens were still pretty fast and true. We played a "shamble" in the afternoon. I thought this was a made up "World Of" term, but it is actually a USGA "recognized" form of goofy golf in which all players tee off and the best ball is selected. Each team member then plays his own ball into the hole. According to the "recognized" experts on shambles, this game should be played with full handicaps to permit the higher handicap players to contribute. Since we only had 7 players (so what's new!), Smooth and Arnie, the two best players, and I played as a threesome, against Turtle, the Mouth, Cameo and Stinger, using the one low score. We played with some type of modified handicap system and we rotated an extra drive on each hole. We lost this game in the negotiations before the first drive. We rarely used the fourth drive because it was generally unnecessary and we were conserving our strength and we only had 3 scores against the other team's 4 scores. Although we got beaten like a drum, 6 under to 3 under, it was nice playing Smooth's or Arnie's drive on each hole and being long and in the middle of the fairway. I contributed a little bit here and there, but with the modified handicap, I only got a few shots.

We finished in the dark, just in time for dinner and Monday Night football. The perfect men's golf trip day! I was asleep by 10 p.m., but after 6 rounds of golf in 3 days I was still feeling pretty good.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wagering at the "World Of"

Today, I am pleased to have a guest post from Arnie, one of the stalwart members of the "World Of", on "World Of" wagering. Interestingly, this year Arnie a/k/a Metronome may have won every single bet with his stellar play.

The "World Of" has its own economic system. Everyone is a reasonably well-paid attorney, sufficiently well off to be able to afford a four-day golf trip to a nice place. That, however, doesn’t keep us from being major cheapskates. For example, each year the trip planning begins with an e-mail request to “send in your $100 deposit.” This originated as a way to get people to commit to the trip, so that the "World Of" participants that do not bail don’t get stuck with cancellation costs. This strategy failed miserably. No one was willing to be pinned down, much less risk forfeiture of “a hundo.” So, we still ask for the deposit, but nobody sends it in, and we always go to places where we can cancel. [Editor's Note: I think that I must be the only dummy that actually sends in my deposit!]

The best example of "World Of" economics is how we handle our golf bets. In the morning round, we ALWAYS play “the 2-man game.” The bet is $5 per head, better ball net, winning team takes all. The reason for winner take all is because, as Turtle is fond of saying, “second is just first among the losers.” That’s how we think at the "World Of". Anyway, $5 has been the bet since we were third year law students with no money, 27 years ago. Should we change it now? No way! One reason is that we are all so competitive that if we played for higher stakes, it might get out of hand. Another reason is that it is very hard to collect bets at the "World Of". The guys who win don’t want to be obnoxious about collecting, and the guys who lose don’t want to pay because they are cheap and because it is admitting defeat. So, the bets usually sit out there for 2 or 3 rounds until somebody like Smooth figures out a clever way to bring up the subject. That still doesn’t solve the problem of the bets made late in the trip because inevitably, several people leave without paying before we can have an accounting. So, if you’re going to lose at the "World Of", lose late and leave early!

The “net” feature of the betting is interesting, too. There are some highly suspect handicaps at the "World Of". The Mouth was a 16 for the longest time, fully capable of hitting it 270 yards and shooting in the low 80s. We finally have gotten him down to a 13. Shifty at one point got 36 strokes and made several net aces on par-3s. When he was paired with Smooth, you might as well get out your wallet. On average, I’d guess that the "World Of" handicap is 2 shots higher than the real handicap--another reason it’s good we only play for $5. There was, however, one exception to this rule. Several years ago the Natural’s brother from New Jersey came on the trip. He told us he was a 9-handicap, not bad at all. The funny thing was that the guy never broke 90, which was great as long as you weren’t his partner. The Natural’s brother quickly became known as a “New Jersey 9,” and “New Jersey” became our adjective to describe anybody who couldn’t play up to their handicap. In a way, I’m surprised we haven’t planned a trip to New Jersey. [Editor's Note: Now I understand why I was being called New Jersey!]

The most rancorous "World Of" bets involve the afternoon “scramble.” By the second round of the second day, we are all sick of playing our own ball (except for Smooth, who hits it a lot less than the rest of us). So, after 3 rounds of beating it around, we play a Captain’s choice round—for you guessed it--$5 a head. A big feature of this round is major beer drinking, led by the Big Man in terms of volume of beer and the Mouth in terms of volume of sound. Either because of the beer or because it’s a team game and nobody is individually exposed, there’s a lot of trash talk. The Mouth and Turtle, the Alabama Boys, always have to be on the same team. Turtle automatically becomes the coach of his team, even if he’s the 3rd best player. But Turtle can make a big putt, especially if he cares enough to take off his bucket hat and expose has bald pate to the elements. Every birdie in the scramble elicits a big yell from the team, so the other team(s) can hear it. Fake yells are also part of the scramble, just to keep the other team(s) guessing. And if you run across another team while you’re playing, don’t even waste your time asking them their score. They won’t tell you the truth. It may be that some teams don’t tell the truth even at the end of the round. There’s also plenty of cheating during the scramble. Ordinarily honest guys lose it. Balls get “found” and balls get advanced. It’s often getting dark at the end of the scramble, so it’s really hard to tell what’s going on. Seems like a lot of times the team that yells the loudest has the advantage. That’s the scramble.

In the end, the main point of "World Of" betting is not who wins the most money. I sure hope not because I know I’m down several “hundos” over the 27 years. No, the point is that we bet because you’re supposed to bet in golf, and you’re supposed to have fun betting. And in spite of the slow pays, the fake handicaps and all that goes on in the scramble, betting at the "World Of" is fun.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

World Of XXVII - The After Party

After Day 2 of the "World Of" XXVII, the party moved to the Watersound Beach Club for drinks. Danny, the bartender, was closing up shop as our cars pulled into the parking lot. Stinger implored Danny to stay around by slipping him some cash. Danny made each of us a "Stress Reliever" and we relaxed around the bar on the deck overlooking the sand dunes and the Gulf of Mexico as the sun set. It was an unbelievably great bar set-up. I even broke my "no alcohol rule" and partook in an alcoholic "Stress Reliever". Although I may be breaching a Watersound Beach Club non-disclosure agreement, I think the "Stress Reliever" was made with vodka, rum, cranberry juice, pineapple juice and who knows what else, but it was strong and very good.

From the Beach Club, we adjourned to a nearby restaurant where the locals hang out to watch some Sunday Night Football. The house special was a large platter of fish and crustaceans southern fried. The platter included fried grouper, scallops, shrimp, calamari and other deep fried seafood that was difficult to distinguish. It was all very good, but I knew as I was eating it I would regret it later. Surprisingly, when one of our members asked for a "Stress Reliever", our waitress, Audra, came back with a drink that looked and tasted surprisingly like Danny's secret recipe.

Back at the house, we watched the rest of Sunday Night Football and Stinger showed off the 12-speaker surround sound music system. In one of the least memorable (but most nightmarish) "World Of" episodes epitomizing the "World Of" motto, "The Wrong Way is the Right Way", the Big Man, Mouth, Smooth and Stinger began belting out karaoke-like Motown, Funk, Southern Rock and other 70s songs (with full orchestration and four part harmony and stuff like that). The lowlight of this nightmare was "Brickhouse" by the Commodores with the Big Man shimmying and singing "Shake it down, shake it down, shake it down now..." During this entire episode, Turtle was completely non-plussed and passed out on the sofa with the remote control in hand.

World Of XXVII - Day 2

World Of XXVII - Day 2 was about as beautiful a day as you have ever seen. When we teed off at 8 a.m. it was in the high 60s with clear skies and minimal wind. The high temperature for the day was about 75 degrees with very low humidity. We played Shark's Tooth, which is a Greg Norman-designed course in Lake Powell, about 20 minutes from the house. When I saw signs for Lake Powell I became a bit disoriented and started looking for the Grand Canyon.

As opposed to Camp Creek, Shark's Tooth is a much more typical Florida golf course with flat terrain so you can generally see from the tee box to the flagstick. The fairways are pretty generous but the greens are very slick. The golf course measures over 7,200 yards from the back tees (1 shark tooth) with a course rating of 74.9 and a slope rating of 136. We played from the next set of tees (2 shark teeth), which were about 6,500 yards with a course rating of 70.6 and a slope rating of 126. The golf course should probably have another set of tees inbetween at about 6,800+/-. The course opened in 2002 and it has been consistently ranked in the top 10 courses in Florida. We played our own ball in the morning and I hit the ball well from tee to green, but had 4 3-putt greens (including some rakes well outside of the leather) and shot an 89.

Over lunch we caught up on the Ryder Cup. When play was called the day before, the Europeans were leading all 6 foursomes and four ball matches on the course. The Americans stormed back to tie one of the matches so the Europeans won 5 1/2 points out of a possible 6 points and the overall score at the end of play on Sunday was Europe 9 1/2, Americans 6 1/2.

During lunch unsubstantiated reports of a "Cameo" appearance were running rampant. As we headed back to our carts for the afternoon round, Cameo magically stepped out of his cab and onto the first tee talking a mile a minute. We played a 3-person scramble with 3 teams. I was teamed with Cameo and Arnie. Arnie continued to drive the ball right down the middle and almost got the new moniker "Metronome", but that seemed so impersonal. I drove the ball pretty well and made some contributions to the team effort. We started off two under par, but gave away both strokes and were at even par after 9 holes. Things were not looking good but we persevered.

On the back 9 we went on a birdie binge as Cameo's putter heated up and he made a couple of long snakes. By about the 14th hole, Cameo could no longer contain himself. Cameo has trouble keeping quiet for 5 seconds, but to his credit up to that point he let me go through my pre-shot routine of standing frozen over the ball for an interminable length of time before pulling the trigger. Finally, as Arnie was relieving himself in the trees and I was standing frozen over my tee shot, Cameo said in that thick Southern drawl, "Boy, what are you thinkin' about over the ball that damn long!" I had nothing to say in my defense except the non-sequitur, "I do not take any practice swings." If Arnie had a normal size bladder, he may have been able to outlast me in the trees. I gathered myself and ripped a drive right down the middle. We made 6 birdies on the back 9 and won the scramble going away.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Showdown

After stiffening up over lunch, we headed back to the Camp Creek course for the second round of "World Of" XXVII. The Big Dog joined us for the afternoon round and, heaven forbid, we actually had 8 golfers! The afternoon golf is a little fuzzy other than marveling as the Big Dog, weighing in at 140 pounds soaking wet with a short backswing and the sweetest hands in golf, consistently drove the ball 275+ yards in the middle of the fairway. The legend of the Big Dog is that in college he was playing in the Ivy League golf championship, which happened to coincide with a black tie event. The Big Dog partied all night and showed up on the first tee of the Ivy League golf championship in his tuxedo.

Saturday's golf was simply a prelude to the Alabama-Florida college football game. We got back to the house and hunkered down for 3 hours of football. Turtle took control of the television remote. Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa exploded when the Alabama football team raced out of the locker room. Alabama marched down the field on its first possession, but was stopped inside the 10 and settled for a short field goal. Florida came storming back and moved the ball down the field inside the Alabama 2 yard line. On fourth and goal, Urban Meyer elected to go for the touchdown rather than kick the field goal and the Alabama defense intercepted a jump pass in the end zone. Game over! There was much "World Of" analysis of Urban's decision, always a step or two ahead of the television announcers. By halftime, the score was 24-3 and the game was simply a good, old-fashioned butt-whuppin'. In the second half, Alabama shut it down and scored a defensive touchdown and gave up a field goal to make the final score 31-6, but the final score was closer than the actual game. Alabama was just bigger, stronger, faster and more intense than Florida. Florida fans can take solace in the fact that its team is young and Florida will probably get another shot at Alabama, when it counts, in the SEC Championship Game in December.

Between Turtle and the Mouth, they knew the first and last name of each Alabama player (including the 4th stringers), where he went to high school and his high school statistics, what other schools recruited him, his mother's maiden name and any felony convictions. With Turtle controlling the television remote, he also regaled us with a coaching seminar on the crackback block, the downfield blocking of the Alabama receivers, the Alabama pass rush (which had been anemic prior to this game) and the power and speed of the Alabama running backs, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.

The other highlight of the evening was dinner. The Stinger and Smooth took charge of grilling steaks on the barbecue. In addition to the steaks, we had a Caesar salad, garlic mashed potatoes and Texas toast (of course, no green vegetables). It was terrific! The only problem was that the timing was a little off. The food was ready before halftime. We suggested that we simply pause the football game, have dinner and then pick it up again and catch up before the end of halftime. The Mouth was adamantly opposed to pausing the game for reasons that I did not understand. I think that the Mouth simply did not want anyone else anywhere knowing what was happening in the football game before him. Turtle simply ignored him and made the executive decision to pause the game during dinner and surprisingly, the Mouth, acquiesced.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

World Of XXVII - Day 1 (Morning)

Our two leaders, Smooth and Turtle, arrived at about 4 a.m. after watching Turtle's son play in an Alabama high school football game and then driving 5 hours to Panama City. Zeke (no kidding, a great Alabama redneck name!) rushed for 80 yards on offense and had 15 tackles on defense in a losing effort.

Seven of us gathered at about 7 a.m. on Saturday around the breakfast table for cereal, dry cereal for the lactose intolerant, coffee and more (man) hugging with Smooth and Turtle. On a guy's golf trip, the perfect number of players is either 8 or 12. The worst number of players is 5 or 7. Nine is not great but you can make do with 3 threesomes. Invariably, the "World Of" has a prime number of golfers. The weather was cooperating. It was supposed to be in the mid- to high-70s with no chance of rain.

Day 1 is 36 holes at Camp Creek, a Tom Fazio-designed golf course, about 10 minutes from the house. The course is built in a wetlands area and has an Audubon certification for environmental sensitivity. Unfortunately, it is not that sensitive to golfers. Fazio moved a lot of dirt and sand to create a "dunescape" feel to the course. The golf course plays 7,159 yards from the championship tees with a course rating of 76 and a slope rating of 156. Smooth was nice enough to let us play from the blue tees that are 6,689 yards with a course rating of 73.5 and a slope rating of 146. According to the starter, the person that walked off the yardage had short legs because the course seems to play longer, especially with the Fazio-signature elevated greens that add one club to each approach shot.

The threesome of the Big Man, Stinger and Arnie teed off first. Turtle, Smooth, the Mouth and I followed. My teammate and cart mate was Turtle. Turtle was wearing his signature bucket hat (he brought 3 hats, but the other two got soaked with Budweiser in his trunk), the Mouth was wearing his brace on his ugly, bowlegged right knee, Smooth was typically low key in dress and demeanor and I was resplendent in my Ian Poulter plaid shorts. We play a simple two-man game for $5 per player using the low net score for each team. Since it is the "World Of", of course, one player plays blind (without knowing his partner). Arnie was the lucky seventh player today. We all use Smooth's handicap to determine how many strokes we receive. Smooth is a +.7 meaning that his handicap is below par and each of us gets one stroke more than our USGA handicap index! There is also usually a $2 Nassau bet in each group.

On a Saturday morning we almost had the golf course to ourselves. Because of all the bantering, reloads and looking for balls in the wetlands and dunes, it took us 4 1/2 hours to play the first round. We even got gently rousted by the course marshal to pick up the pace of play at one point, which is embarrassing. I hit the ball reasonably well, but the course is a little too tight for me and I had 3 or 4 penalty strokes for lost balls, and I shot a 93. I made a number of pars to go with the bogeys and double-bogeys so I was a pretty good teammate for our bets. The star of the morning round was Arnie. Arnie is an 8 handicap and shot a 76. Luckily, it turned out that I was Arnie's blind (figuratively, not literally) playing partner and we won the morning bet.

There was some controversy in our foursome. On two holes, the Mouth hit the ball into the woods/wetlands area and the ball was unplayable. The area is not staked as a hazard or out-of-bounds and "World Of" local rules would generally be to drop the ball in the fairway somewhat near where the ball came to rest with a one-stroke penalty. However, the Mouth pointed out to the Rules Official (his partner Smooth) that the ball was embedded (of course it was, it's wetlands!) and he was entitled to a free drop without a penalty stroke. The Rules Official confirmed the Mouth's interpretation of Rule 25-2, the "embedded ball" rule, and we played on (no one would ever impugn Smooth's integrity or his knowledge of the Rules of Golf). However, this reminded me of the Tiger Woods "loose impediment" ruling at the Phoenix Open. Sometimes the spirit of the Rules of Golf and the strict interpretation of the Rules of Golf are in conflict, but a good litigator needs to play within the rules and seize those kind of opportunities. [See Editor's Note below]

At lunch we caught up on the Ryder Cup from Wales. Day 1 of the Ryder Cup (Friday) was a washout. The first group only played about 8 holes before the course was so saturated with rain that play was canceled for the remainder of the day. It must have been a surprise to the USGA and the R&A that it might rain in Wales in early October. Instead of playing a links-style course with loamy soil that drains no matter how torrential the rain (I think there are a few (hundred) in Wales), the "powers-that-be" (I think this was an R&A only decision) chose Celtic Manor, an inland American-style course that could not withstand a sun shower or two (I am sure it had nothing to do with money). Also, what was Corey Pavin thinking! The Americans' rain gear and golf bags were "rain resistant", not "rain proof" so the Americans were soaked while the Europeans stayed relatively dry. Who knew it would rain in Wales? The American players went into the merchandise shop and purchased their own rain proof rain gear at retail prices. By lunchtime on Saturday in Panama City, the second session of the Ryder Cup was completed. The U.S. had a 6 to 4 lead, but the outlook for the Americans was bleak. There were six matches still in progress at nightfall and the Europeans were leading all six!

Editor's Note: Upon further reflection I think that the Rules Official may have erred on the "embedded ball" rule. Rule 25-2 provides that "[a] ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground in any closely mown area through the green may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green. "Closely mown area" means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less. (emphasis added). I have to question the Rules Official as to whether the wetlands area off of the fairway and rough is a "closely mown area"?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

World Of XXVII - Prologue

Friday was travel day for the "World Of". I left Phoenix at 10 a.m., Arizona time, and arrived in Panama City, Florida at 8 p.m., Central Daylight Time. I thought Panama City was on Eastern time so I actually saved one hour in travel time. It was fitting that I had a layover in Music City, Nashville, Tennessee, since the "World Of " is made up of Vanderbilt Law School class of 1984 graduates.

Panama City and its surroundings are known lovingly as the "Redneck Riviera". Rednecks from Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia vacation in Panama City and mix with the college students on Spring Break. Panama City has some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the United States and the Gulf of Mexico water is as blue as Reese Witherspoon's eyes. Luckily, the BP oil spill did not reach the Panama City beaches, but according to the locals, i.e., the car service driver, all of the talk about the oil spill ruined the summer tourist business. However, my driver was very excited because this weekend was also the "Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally", the most biker friendly rally in the U.S. About 160,000 bikers invade Panama City for bike shows, rock and roll and beauty pageants (and a lot of drinking and brawling).

Stinger (formerly known as High Right) hosted us at his vacation home. Special kudos to Stinger's wife, "The Bon", for allowing nine of us to stay at her lovely home (although she dissed us by calling us "harmless", which cut us to the quick!). The Bon has been with us from law school and she is almost one of the "boys". This house is not your typical summer bungalow. It is beautifully appointed and decorated in pastel colors with a lot of breakable items (I think we only broke one wine glass, but don't tell The Bon). It is clear that Stinger's only involvement in appointing the house was the electronics, the barbecue and the golf cart in the garage (Oh, and writing the checks). We never did find the paper plates and paper napkins so instead of using the cloth napkins we just used our pants and shirts. The house has an upstairs master bedroom for Stinger, a downstairs in-laws master bedroom where the Big Man slept, a guest quarters (with outdoor shower) for the Mouth, a boys' bedroom with 4 bunk beds where Turtle, Smooth, Cameo and the Big Dog resided and the "pink and green" girls' bedroom where Arnie and I slept. The children's bedrooms all had Tempur-Pedic mattresses and pillows that were great for tired bones and aching muscles. The Natural (parents' weekend at Indiana University); Crimson Tide (bad back), Shifty (Hong Kong) and Alice (just because he is Alice!) could not make it this year.

I arrived at the house at about 8:30 and was greeted with big (manly) hugs and smiles and some good-natured ribbing. I look forward to this golf trip every year. You cannot find a better group of guys that all get along and truly enjoy each others' (manly) company. Everyone genuinely likes everyone else and the conversation and camaraderie is easy and comfortable. That first night we caught up on how each of us was doing, what our children were up to and the state of our golf game. Eventually, the discussion got around to our lost youth and our most recent proctology exam and colonoscopy, at which time everyone was ready for bed with birdies dancing in their heads.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Prelude to the "World Of"

In preparation for "World Of" XXVII, I played golf this weekend with Chad Feldheimer. Usually, Chad waits until I hit my drive on the 18th hole to point out that I have been misaligned the entire round, or my ball is too far back in my stance or that my posture is bad! Today, I actually received a "sort of" playing lesson from Chad in exchange for all of the free legal advice I have been providing to him. Chad is buying a new house. Normally, in Arizona attorneys do not get involved in residential purchases and the seller and buyer just sign the broker's standard form purchase agreement, which is sacrosanct and any changes to the form are looked upon with much disdain. Of course, Chad is using his own purchase agreement and has been in negotiations with the seller for over a month. He was recently wringing his hands as to whether a communication by e-mail was enforceable because the purchase agreement requires fax notices. It is a sign of how bad the Phoenix real estate market is doing that the seller is willing to put up with Chad!

We played at Papago Golf Course. It is one of most well-known courses in Phoenix and I have been raving about the renovation to Chad since I played a few weeks ago. Chad had never played the course and I think he was impressed with the layout. Overseeding season is coming up in Phoenix and the course superintendent at Papago has begun the process by reducing water on the fairways so they were a little browner than a few weeks ago. The course was still in good shape and the layout is really great. The greens need a lot of work and are slow and bumpy. According to the bag boy, the USGA is planning on having some qualifying tournaments at Papago. The course will have to address the green issue before then. Chad was hitting the ball from tee to green as well as I have ever seen him play, but he was really frustrated with the greens. He shot a 78 with a few three-putts in the mix.

After my last few outings, I was not happy with my game. Once again, I tinkered a little bit with my grip and swing plane to try to increase my distance and hit the ball more solidly. I strengthened my grip and held my hands lower at address. Oh, as Chad pointed out, I also used my "big boy" tees which are higher than the old standard tees. My ball flight was much straighter with even a hint of a draw and the ball seemed to bore through the air rather than fly lazily and drop straight down. Even Chad grudgingly complimented me on my ball flight.

I started off par-par and had one double-bogey and one more par on the front 9 for a 43. I was really happy with the way I played, but this was a familiar routine and I have been falling apart on the back 9 recently. I started the back 9 par-par-bogey-par-bogey and was 3 under bogey through the first 5 holes and dreaming about a mid-80s score before the "World Of". I limped home in 6 over bogey for the last 4 holes for a 44 and an 87 total. I was happy with my round, but of course I should have done better! I think that I am ready for my annual golf trip.

On Monday morning, the first weather reports from Panama City, Florida for the "World Of" began to circulate. There had been a lot of rain in the southeast over the weekend, but the weather report was clearing skies during the week and by the following Saturday clear skies with almost no chance of rain and high temperatures in the high-70s and lows in the 60s. We will be recording the Ryder Cup matches for the evening entertainment and the Alabama-Florida football game has been moved to Saturday night for national television so the stars are aligning!

Monday, September 20, 2010


"World Of" XXVII (27 for those of you that do not use Roman numerals in your everyday life) is coming up in two weeks and my game is still in shambles. My handicap leaped up from 11.9 to 12.1 last week and it could be getting worse! Every time I go to the course or the driving range I am tinkering with my grip, stance, ball position, swing or something else. This weekend I shelved my graphite-shafted Ping G10 irons and went back to my steel-shafted Ping G5 irons. I have so many swing thoughts going through my head, sometimes I am not sure I can pull the trigger and swing the club. One of these days I am just going to freeze over the ball and my playing partner will have to cart me off of the course like a statue.

I played on Sunday with the Gardener and my game was wearing off (or on) him too. Temperatures in Phoenix this weekend broke the record highs of 109 degrees. We played early and, surprisingly, it did not seem too bad. We played at Vistal Golf Club, which is one of my new favorite courses. It is located in South Phoenix and has beautiful views of South Mountain and downtown Phoenix, as well as a lot of elevation changes as you play into the foothills. From the blue tees it is a 7,013 yard par-71 layout with a course rating of 72.9 and a slope rating of 129. The course is in good condition, but the greens are slow and bumpy.

When I got to the course and announced myself the golf shop attendant looked perplexed. It seemed that the person that was playing with us was also named Kramer, which was an interesting coincidence. When we met our third player on the first tee, he introduced himself as "Kramer". I told him that was my last name also and asked his first name. It turned out that "Kramer" was his first name. His mother had a difficult birth with him and, in the throes of child birth, she promised the doctor that she would name her child after the doctor. Instead of using the doctor's first name (which must have really been bad), she used the doctor's last name, "Kramer". As far as he and I know, he is the only person with the given name "Kramer". It was easy and kind of fun calling him "Kramer" throughout the round. I felt like my daughter-in-law calling her husband (my son) by his last name. See her website Crepes of Wrath.

As usual I was hitting it pure on the driving range. The first hole is a 526 yard par-5. I hit my drive right down the middle and then laced a 1-hybrid to about 80 yards from the green. I then tried to hit my sand wedge too fine and left the ball in the greenside bunker turning a par into a double bogey. One the second and third holes I was on the green in regulation and 3-putted so after 3 holes I should have been even par and I was 4 over par! I drove the ball straight and short on the front 9 and I finished with a 44 that could have been a 40. Then disaster struck.

The back 9 at Vistal is a bear. It is over 3,600 yards with only one par-5. Five of the 6 par-4 holes are over 440 yards and the par-5 is almost 600 yards long. I made only one par on the back 9 and double-bogeyed a bunch of holes even though I was generally hitting my second shot from the middle of the fairway, albeit far from the green. I ended up with a 50 on the back 9 for a 94 total.

Sunday afternoon, notwithstanding the record heat, I went to the driving range and found that new magic swing where I was hitting the ball 20 yards longer and straight as an arrow. I am trying to remember what modifications I made to my grip, set-up, ball position, etc. that worked so well! Maybe it was just a dream.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grand Old Dame

I played Papago Golf Course on Labor Day. Papago is one of the great municipal courses in the United States. It was designed by William Francis (Billy) Bell, who also designed Torrey Pines in San Diego. Papago Golf Course opened in 1963. It hosted the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 1971 and a number of Phoenix Open qualifying events. In its prime, more than 100,000 rounds were played annually. Players would get to the course at 4 a.m. or earlier to get a coveted weekend tee time. When I first moved to Phoenix in 1984 we used to play Papago frequently, but I had not played the course in 15 years. By the mid-2000s the grand old dame had lost her luster and was in a state of disrepair.

In 2008, the City of Phoenix hired the Arizona Golf Association to restore the golf course and the AGA engaged Billy Fuller for the job. Fuller was golf course superintendent at Augusta National and a member of the Cupp-Fuller Design team before forming his own golf course design company. As part of a $5.8 million restoration project, a new irrigation system was installed and the greens, fairways, bunkers and tee boxes were all re-done. Overgrown trees were removed or thinned, but the original layout was not drastically changed, except that the course was lengthened from 7,068 yards to 7,333 yards from the championship tees. The course still has beautiful views of the McDowell Buttes and downtown Phoenix. The renovated course plays to a course rating of 75.0 and a slope rating of 130 from the black (championship) tees. We played from the blue tees, which are 6,771 yards with a course rating of 72.0 and a slope rating of 125.

I played with the Gardener (he is permitted to play every other week). The staff was very gracious and the starter provided all kinds of information regarding the course. He also explained something about the golf cart beeping, stopping and going in reverse if you got too close to the greens, desert or hazards. I kind of spaced out on this part of the discussion thinking that I know how to drive a golf cart around a green. After my debacle Saturday, I was nervous about my game, but I played really well on the front 9. I had 4 pars and one double bogey and shot a 43. The Gardener also shot a 43 on the front 9. Since it was our first time playing the course in a long time, we did not remember the layout of the holes. The course is really designed for walking and it has very few paved cart paths, which is nice if you are walking, but makes it difficult if you do not know the course layout. Also, if you got within 30 feet of the desert area or any water hazard the cart started beeping and then stopped completely (interestingly, I think that you could drive over the tee box without repercussions) . The only way to then maneuver the cart was to go backward. It reminded me of the shopping carts at the grocery store where the wheels lock if someone tries to take it off the property. I am not sure why you were not able to drive in the desert areas. Most of those areas were simply dirt with a little brush. It was nice because you could generally find and hit your ball out of the desert, but if those areas were vegetated, the course could be even prettier, especially when the desert is in bloom.

When we made the turn, I had double-bogeyed No. 10 but I was one under bogey through 4 holes. I fell apart on the last 5 holes, which included a 232 yard par-3 and 416 yard and 441 yard par-4s, and shot a 48 for a score of 91! The Gardener was playing beautifully. He was driving the ball straight and hitting his irons like lasers onto the greens. He shot a 39 on the back 9 for an 82. I had two holes where I hit good drives and the ball was on the edge of the fairway blocked by a big tree. On one hole, I tried to draw a 1-hybrid around the tree and I hit it really well, but the ball clipped a different tree and bounded into the desert. On the par-3, 232 yard 17th hole my tee shot was pin high and to the left of the green. I tried to hit a flop shot over the greenside bunker and left it short in the bunker with a downhill lie and made a triple bogey.

By the middle of the back 9 I was frustrated with my golf game and really frustrated with the b[l]eeping golf cart. I had just hit a poor shot and was driving the cart toward the green and following the directional signs to the left toward the water hazard when the cart started beeping again. I was now stuck between the green on the right and the water hazard on the left and the cart was not moving at all. I was ready to drive the cart into the water but it would not go forward so I left the cart sitting there as I went to find my ball. I would have walked the final few holes but the Gardener was able to maneuver the golf cart like a rat through a maze to the next tee box. This is a case of municipal golf overkill. Instead of simple signs saying do not drive in the desert or into the water hazard (you dummy), the golf cart manufacturer designs a Machiavellian device to drive the rational and sane golfer (that may be an oxymoron) crazy.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mr. Big Shot

My golf game is in the toilet so I need to find something different to blog about. I played golf with my friend Fred Flintstone on Saturday at my home course, Stonecreek Golf Club. I was expecting to tear the place up and give Fred a run for his money. Alas, it was a disaster. I could not hit my driver at all. I duck hooked it, topped it and pushed it right all day. It got so bad that I finally put the driver in my bag and teed it up with my 1-hybrid. I have never done that before. I shot a stinky 98. Fred was using his slap shot drive and hitting it long and straight. He ended up shooting his normal easy 85 even though he had not played for about 6 months.

When you play golf as a twosome you are oftentimes paired with one or two other players. The conversation is generally about golf and other sports, and maybe your jobs, but not much else. Generally, golfers are good guys but every once in a while you get a clunker. Saturday was one of those days. We were teamed with Mr. Big Shot. Mr. Big Shot was a recent college graduate with an engineering degree. He had just been hired by one of the large aeronautical engineering firms that build helicopters or fighter jets for the military and, according to Mr. Big Shot, was making a lot of money. Fred and I both congratulated Mr. Big Shot on his graduation and success and told him how lucky he was to get such a good job in this market. Mr. Big Shot also told us that his wife was due to have their first child in about two weeks, his mother-in-law was with his wife and they had told him to get out of the house and go play golf all weekend (this should have been our first clue)!

By the third hole, Mr. Big Shot was 5 over par and told us that he had been a state wrestling champion and while pinning his opponent in the state finals he hurt his back and had surgery. His back was very stiff, hence the 5 over par, because he did not have adequate time to warm up before the round. By the 5th hole, Mr. Big Shot told us that just played Superstition Springs Golf Club and shot 78 and that he was playing TPC at Scottsdale on Sunday. He triple-bogeyed the 5th hole and as we walked off the green he said disgustedly that this would probably be a round in the low 80s for him. Even Fred snickered at that comment.

Mr. Big Shot had a 49 at the turn so he needed to shoot a 2 under par 34 on the back 9 for an 83. On the 10th hole we learned that Mr. Big Shot's wife was a registered nurse at a private prison hospital and makes a lot of money. She supported him through college and between them they were making enough money to own a 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom house. He double-bogeyed No. 10 and bogeyed 11 and 12. When we got to the 548-yard par-5 13th hole, Mr. Big Shot told us that his wife and mother-in-law were heading to the hospital to have the baby and he hurried off in his cart. Fred and I looked at one another amazed and simultaneously said that he shot in the low 80s, just like he said!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bad Things Happen in Threes

Remember that I said bad things come in threes. Well, I am scared. But the good news first. My USGA Handicap Index is 11.9 because of the 87 I shot at Southern Dunes! I am afraid that I may have some work to do to keep it this low for awhile. The USGA Handicap Index is based on the best 10 of your last 20 scores, modified for course difficulty. Four of the next five rounds that burn off of my handicap were included in my 10 best scores.

This past weekend Chad Feldheimer honored me with his presence on the golf course. The temperature was supposed to be below 100 degrees so, after much whining and complaining, he "manned up" and decided to play. We played the Stadium Course at the TPC Scottsdale, the home of the "greatest show on grass", the Waste Management Phoenix Open. This is the PGA tournament that brought you one of the most controversial rules decisions in golf history. See link and go to "Windows Media Player". The tournament is best known for the short par-5 15th hole with the island green, the par-3 16th hole, the rowdiest hole in golf (who can forget Tiger Woods's hole-in-one!), and the drivable par-4 17th hole. It is a birdie fest for the pros and they can shoot 5 under par for that 3-hole stretch. Chad had only played the TPC Scottsdale on his Tiger Woods golf video game so he was excited to play the real thing. The greens fee to play the TPC Scottsdale was about $50 (it is about $250 in season), which is on the high end for me. The fairways were not in great condition and the rough was pretty heavy, but the greens were immaculate. They were fast and rolled true and if you hit your approach shot high, it would hold the green.

The golf course plays to a par-71 over 7,200 for the pros with a course rating of 74.6 and a slope rating of 138. We played from the Championship Tees, which are 6,525 yards with a course rating of 71.1 and a slope rating of 129. That was plenty for me. I shot a 91 and was only one over par on the four par-3 holes, but 5 over par on the 3 par-5 holes. Chad started off with five straight bogeys and if we were closer to the clubhouse I think he would have quit. Then he righted the ship and was one over par for the last 13 holes for a 77. On the short par-5 15th hole with the island green, Chad decided to move back one tee box and play from about 500 yards. I stayed at the 468 yard tee box. Our tee shot were both right down the middle but I outdrove him by about one foot (give or take the 30 yard head start) and we were both 200 yards from the flagstick and 170 yards from the front of the green. I stubbed my 3-hybrid and rolled it short of the water and Chad hit a 6-iron that did not draw and landed in the water. He made his up-and-down for a par, but I chunked my next shot into the bunker and made a 7! On the par-3 16th hole with the stadium crowd going wild (not really) we both hit the green and made our pars and walked off glad that the crowd could not jeer us. Chad drove past the green on No. 17 with some help from the cart path, chipped onto the green and made a birdie 3.

But getting back to the real story, bad things happen in threes. On the par-4 11th hole, Chad and I both hit good drives. One of our playing partners duffed his drive. Because we were playing "ready golf" I drove the cart out to our ball and moved far into the right rough area waiting for the person behind us to hit. Chad was in the cart texting (or sexting) and I was standing beside the cart not watching the shot (my bad). All of a sudden we hear "fore" and I cover my head with my arms and our playing partner's golf ball screams by my head and hits the plastic on the edge of the top of the cart and bounces backwards 25+ yards. There is no question in my mind that if that ball hit me in the head I was a dead man! I have now had two close calls and bad things happen in threes. I am scared!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The PGA Finally Got it Right!

They say that bad things come in threes. The last couple of weeks the PGA Tour, the USGA and the LPGA had three rules violations that were public relations nightmares. First, Dustin Johnson grounded his club in a fairway bunker (and I use that term very loosely) incurring a two stroke penalty on the 18th hole in the last round of the PGA Championship. See link at 2:35 and 3:10. He missed the playoff by two strokes and came within inches of making a putt on the 18th hole that would have given him the outright victory, but for the two stroke penalty. It could have been worse for the PGA and USGA if Dustin made the putt on the 18th hole and thought he won the PGA Championship only to then be told that he incurred a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker. There is plenty of blame to go around on this fiasco. The players and caddies were repeatedly warned that all sand areas were considered bunkers and not waste areas, but the USGA allowed spectators to trample and walk in the so-called bunkers. When you watch the video, tell me whether the area looks like a "prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like," which is the definition of a "bunker" in the Rules of Golf. As an aside, how crazy are those spectators in the line of fire. Johnson just hit his drive about 100 yards off-line and people are lined up to his left giving him about 5 yards of space to blast a shot off of the sand. You must be out of your mind!

Then, Julie Inkster, a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame, was disqualified for taking a practice swing with a weighted doughnut on her club during a 30-minute wait between the 9th and 10th holes at the LPGA Safeway Classic. Inkster had just been interviewed by the Golf Channel and a television viewer noticed the infraction and contacted tournament officials. Decision 14-3/10 interpreting Rule 14-3 prohibits a player from using any artificial device, such as a weighted head cover or club with a weighted "doughnut" on it for any stroke or practice swing during a competitive round. Violation of the Rule creates an automatic disqualification and according to the LPGA it had no wiggle room as to enforcement of the Rule. In fact, the LPGA tournament officials checked with the USGA (the last bastion of reasonableness and common sense) before issuing the disqualification. Of course, Inkster could have taken two or three clubs out of her bag and swung them together with the same effect and not been disqualified. The "Rule of Reason" from English common law seems to have evaded the USGA (and the venerable R&A).

Finally, Jim Furyk, No. 3 in the FedEx points standings last week, was disqualified from The Barclays, the first event of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup, before it even began. Furyk overslept and missed his tee time for the Pro-Am on the Wednesday before the tournament. Under PGA Rules, this automatically disqualifies the player from the golf tournament. The reason for the rule is clear. The PGA Tour relies upon its sponsors and the Pro-Am is very important to the sponsors. Given a choice, many of the golfers would rather not participate in Pro-Am tournaments so it is important that the penalty for non-participation be severe. However, this is a clear case of "cutting off your nose to spite your face." First of all, Jim Furyk has a reputation for being one of the best ambassadors of the game and one of the professionals that does not shirk his responsibilities to the fans and sponsors. Second, by disqualifying Furyk, the PGA compounded the sponsor problem by taking one of the best golfers and fan favorites out of the competition. To his credit, Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour Commissioner, recognized the irony of the rule and immediately implemented an interim rule for the remainder of the season so that a golfer that is late for a Pro-Am will be disciplined for "conduct detrimental to the game" but unless he misses the entire round, he will not be disqualified from the tournament. Finchem asked the Players Advisory Council and PGA Tour Policy Board to evaluate the pro-am policy for the following PGA season. Of course, none of this helps Jim Furyk and hopefully he will not lose the FEDEX Cup by a few points that he could have won by playing the Barclays, but the Commissioner's proactive response is a pleasant surprise. At least Finchem has not completely drank his USGA/R&A Kool Aid.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Making the Turn at the 9-Hole Muni

While on vacation at the Jersey Shore I did not see Snookie (or sadly Bruce Springsteen) but I did get to play a little golf. Asbury Park (or actually the next town over called Ocean) has a nice little municipal 9-hole golf course called Colonial Terrace Golf Course (watch the video). The course was less than 10 minutes from our rental house. The golf websites (not the city website) claim that it is a par-35, 3,704 yard course. They lied! It is actually 2,600 yards, but it was in relatively nice shape and it only cost $20.

I picked up a scorecard and put it in my back pocket and never looked at it again and now I cannot find it to provide more detail. As an aside, this little 9-hole golf course is on my GolfLogix Blackberry app. Every course that I have played since I bought the app has been mapped!

I played on Monday and the course was relatively empty. I walked the course with SO and she took some pictures and admired the wildlife. I played two balls and worked on my game. We played 9 holes in about 1 1/2 hours and then went to the beach. The two par-5 holes are about 440 to 450 yards and play as difficult par-4s. I birdied one of the par-5s and parred the other. The course was little better than your typical 9-hole muni course and the temperature was in the 80s and the humidity was not too bad so it was a nice walk in the park.

On Friday we went back to play Colonial Terrace again. I knew it would be crowded on a Friday during the summer so we got to the course at about 6 p.m. thinking that would be late for people teeing off. The starter told us that the last group had gone out 30 minutes ago so I thought I was home-free and would not catch up to the group until the last couple of holes. However, when I looked over to the first tee box, there was one group on the tee box and two groups in carts waiting. I was perplexed! The starter told me that those golfers were "making the turn". Huh, it is only a 9-hole course. The light bulb finally went off and I looked at the scorecard and there was a "back 9". The starter smiled and said "you get to play 18 holes for the price of 9". We put the clubs back in the car and went back to the house and enjoyed together time with the family.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Prelude to Disaster

Ever since I got hit on the noggin with a golf ball I have been remiss about keeping up on the blog. The event leading up to the faithful ricochet to the forehead was my disastrous golf game earlier on the same day. On Saturday before leaving for vacation, I played golf with my friend the Deer Hunter.

The Deer Hunter e-mailed me earlier in the week telling me that she had just scored her third hole-in-one! She has been playing golf for about five years! We played at the Raptor course at Grayhawk Golf Club, which is the Deer Hunter's home course. With her "Nothing but Net" discount, the greens fee was only $15. That is the best value in Arizona golf. Grayhawk has two 18-hole championship layouts, the Raptor and the Talon. Both are extremely challenging and very well-maintained. The Raptor course was designed by Tom Fazio and plays to 7,135 yards from the back tees. I played from the Palo Verde tees which are about 6,600 yards with a course rating of 71.4 and a slope rating of 137. The Deer Hunter did not play from the girls' tees, but played from the mens' forward tees.

I started off driving my tee shots right down the middle on the first three holes, but missed the greens with my approach shot and settled for bogeys. I felt like I gave a shot away on the 2nd hole, but was happy with a bogey on the 460 yard par-4 3rd hole. After that the wheels fell off! The 4th hole is a par-5 and and I thought I would make a par, but made a double-bogey 7. Sevens on the scorecard quickly kill your round. I had a 49 on the front 9 with 5 bogeys and 4 double bogeys and no pars! I finally made a par on the par-5 11th hole, but it was just a respite from my string of bogeys and double-bogeys. I shot a 48 on the back 9 for a 97. It was ugly in every way. I hit my drives left and right, but rarely straight, and I hit only one approach shot onto the green. The only thing that kept my score under 100 was that I chipped and putted OK. I was plus 16 on the 10 par-4 holes!

On the other hand, the Deer Hunter hit her drives long and straight (or at least on the grass areas). She easily outdrove me and the other male twosome that played with us on almost every hole. She hit a lot of great approach shots, some of which had enough spin that the ball spun backward when it hit the green. Pretty impressive! And when she missed the green or made a poor shot, she scrambled to save par or bogey. I do not think that she had any double-bogeys and she never seemed to be in big trouble. I do not remember her final score, but I bet it was in the high 70s or low 80s. The Raptor course is relatively tight and if you do not hit the ball straight you will lose a lot of balls in the desert (take it from someone that knows).

I posted my score and chalked this one up to a bad day. Little did I know that my day would be getting worse very soon!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Greetings from Asbury Park

I am on vacation in Asbury Park, New Jersey, the home of the Stone Pony bar where Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and Bon Jovi played early in their careers. We saw Peter Framption at the Stone Pony on Monday night. Framption is about 60 years old and has a buzz cut (pull out your "Frampton Comes Alive" album and check out the hair!).

But my followers are never going to believe this story! I played golf in Phoenix last Saturday before flying to New York. I did not play very well so I was working on my swing in the Giant. The Giant has been my best golf purchase. I use the Giant at least a few times a week and really enjoy it. Until I finally got smart, I hit the ball right into the middle of the Giant and finally put a couple of golf ball-size holes into the netting. Now I move around and hit the ball into different parts of the netting. Now back to the story.

I was working on my swing and I hit the golf ball and it went through one of the holes. Usually, this is not a big deal and the ball hits the brick fireplace, bounces around and does not cause any major problems (a few golf ball-size indentations in the wall). However, this time, the ball ricocheted back through the same hole in the netting and hit me square in the forehead. What are the odds of that happening? First of all, the ball that is going on an upward trajectory somehow hits the brick and bounces back through the same hole. Then I happened to be directly in line with the ball and it hits me in the forehead. Luckily, I was just dazed and confused (and did not lose an eye or get a concussion). My forehead was bleeding and I am thinking that I am supposed to catch a plane in 4 hours and I need to go to the emergency room and get my head stitched up. I immediately put ice on my forehead and kept it there for more than an hour to try to keep the swelling down. The bleeding stopped and the cut on my forehead was not bad, but I had a golf ball-sized knot with "Titleist" stamped on my forehead. By Thursday, the swelling is completely down and the cut is mostly healed, but next week I need to go out and buy a new Giant!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Be the Ball!

After last week's back-to-back 86s, I was excited to play this weekend. It is monsoon season so we are getting some rain and overcast skies. I set up a game with the Gardener for Sunday morning at the Gold Course at the Wigwam Golf Resort and Spa. On Saturday, I worked on a memorandum with Chad Feldheimer to present to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors. It drizzled off and on and was overcast most of the day. Late in the afternoon it cleared up and was beautiful. I went to the driving range and hit balls to get ready for my round on Sunday.

Sunday morning was overcast and drizzling as I drove west to Litchfield Park. The Gold Course is a Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed course with a Midwestern feel and a lot of left-to-right doglegs. It is one of the grad dames of Arizona golf. From the monster tees, the Gold Course measures 7,430 yards with a course rating of 74.5 and a slope rating of 135. That is more golf course than the Gardener and I were prepared to chew off. We played from the par-72 championship tees, which are 6,830 yards with a course rating of 72.3 and a slope rating of 130. The course was in wonderful condition. The fairways were very green and the rough was lush. The greens were smooth and rolling true, although they were a little slow due to the rain. The ball was not rolling much in the fairway so 6,800 yards was plenty of golf for us. If you miss the fairway, you are oftentimes in "jail" in the trees or in some pretty heavy rough so it is hard to reach the green in regulation.

It rained on and off, but never hard enough for us to stop playing and there was no lightning. The temperature (not my score) was in the 7os. The Gardener and I both played terribly on the front 9. I shot a 48 and he shot a 50. The only positive was that we played good "cart golf". If I hit my tee shot left, the Gardner followed suit. If he hit his tee shot right, I hit mine further right. My only par was on the 219 yard par-3 3rd hole. I hit my 1-hybrid pin-high on the right edge of the green and two-putted for my par. I had four double-bogeys on the front 9. Surprisingly, I putted the ball pretty well; otherwise it would have been even uglier.

The Gardener and I both decided that we would play better on the back 9 and we did. I started off on the par-5, 590 yard 10th hole with a reasonably good drive (compared to the front 9) and a good 1-hybrid that found the fairway bunker. The fairway bunker has two palm trees in the middle and I was right behind them (that does not seem fair!). I made a bogey and thought, "not again!". However, on the back 9, I had 6 bogeys and 3 pars and no double bogeys for a 42. The Gardener started driving the ball long and straight down the middle and, even with a few terrible shots, carded a 41 on the back 9 for a 91. On the back 9 instead of fiddling with my ball position, hands and clubhead alignment, I just focused on my body alignment, swinging easy and seeing the club hit the back of the ball.

I played the par-3 and par-4 holes at one under bogey, which is pretty normal for me, but I usually make one or two pars on the par-5 holes and nothing worse than bogey. Today, I played the four par-5 holes at one over bogey, instead of two under bogey, which is the difference between a 90 and an 87. I had 35 putts (including putts from the fringe) with no 3-putts. I also hit some good shots out of the sand and had one up-and-down from the greenside bunker.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

That's Why it is Called Stonecreek!

After Friday's round, I was really excited to play again over the weekend. I asked Chad Feldheimer to play, but the sissy told me it was too hot and he was hanging up his clubs until Fall. Luckily, Ken called and he was excited about playing more golf after the way he hit the ball on Friday. We decided to play late in the afternoon at my "home course", Stonecreek Golf Club.
We teed off at about 3 and finished at 6:30 with ominous storm clouds overhead (although it did not rain). It had been hot and humid all day, but by the time that we played, the sun burned off the humidity and when we made the turn and the sun was beginning to set, it was a balmy 103 degrees with very little humidity and a little breeze.

I started off with four straight pars and very makeable birdie putts on two of the holes. At that point I started thinking about whether Chad Feldheimer would believe my score and making sure that Ken attested to the scorecard. I then proceeded to go double-bogey, double-bogey and double-bogey on holes 5 through 7 and then I righted the ship with two pars to finish the front 9 with a 41 (it is a par-35). I hit the ball really well, even on Nos. 5, 6 and 7. On the 6th hole, I hit a nice approach shot but it faded a little right and hit on the bank right next to the green and rolled into the water. On the par-5, 548 yard 7th hole, I hit my second shot into the brush in the dry stonecreek wash that crosses the fairway and took a penalty stroke (bad course management!).

On the back 9, I had three double-bogeys, I parred both par-5 holes and I had one other par to shoot a 45. On No. 10 I hit into the thickets in the dry stonecreek wash that crosses the fairway again and had to take another penalty stroke! I was +4 on the par-3 holes, +9 on the eleven par-4 holes and +2 on the three par-5 holes. I hit 7 of 18 greens-in-regulation and had 34 putts (remember I count shots on the fringe as putts and greens-in-regulation). I wanted so badly to shoot a 44 on back 9 for an 85, but I just missed and ended up with an 86. Because we played from the back tees and the course rating is 72.8 and the slope rating rating is 131, my differential was 11.4. My round on Friday at The Foothills Golf Club and this round are my two lowest rounds for USGA Handicap Index purposes. I can't wait to see my next handicap index!