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.