May 7, 1999
I learned to play golf at a public course that had seen better days. Once it was the area’s premier private club. The county government then took over the old club, and proceeded to mangle it.
Lumpy greens and brown fairways were common features. The place also had a certain quiet fame as the location of the longest-running dice game in town. Even though it was a bit of a dump, the old public course was a fun place to learn how to play.
Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly brought back those fond memories in Missing Links (Main Street Books, $11.95 SRP).
His book honors the peculiar charms of public golf and public golfers, with a funny redemption story about some fairly screwed up characters.
Raymond Hart, the “hero,” is a young guy who has a 2 handicap, serious problems with his dad, dreams of the PGA Tour, a commitment problem with women, and some equally challenged friends. Mostly, he’s a smart guy that just needs to grow up.
Hart’s gang meets regularly at “their” course, a truly dreadful dog track. Ingenious bets, major gamesmanship, and verbal taunts fill their days. Their problems start when they catch a forbidden glimpse of the exclusive private club next door.
Reilly’s descriptions of the snooty private course members are cruel, but not much more exaggerated than his collection of public hackers. Things go downhill for the gang for a while when they make a major bet over who will first complete a round on the private club. On the way, however, there are some very funny moments. Many are not suitable for a family newspaper or web site.
Reilly often uses terms heard and used during rounds in the Cape Region. One character is noted for having a Roberto Duran putting touch – “hands of stone”. Some of the winning tactics used during the rounds described in this book could get a person shot in some places. Nonetheless, Reilly’s prose makes them just this side of believable. They are also a scream.
Despite some very serious and sad parts, there are happy endings, although some are unexpected. It actually would make a pretty good golf movie (R rating, obviously).
One hundred golfers competed in the Sussex Family YMCA Tournament May 3, despite the rain that pelted the players shortly before they finished. Most groups in the scramble stuck it out, though, and had a great time. Y’ Director Val Siktar was pleased with the turnout. Final figures were not available at press time, but Siktar was also impressed at the preliminary totals for the charity event.
Winners in the low gross category with a team score of 60 were Rick Jones, Alton Jones, C.W. Mitchell, and Tom Murphy. In the net category, the I.G. Burton group took first with a 56. The net winners included Paul Caras, Gary Mendan, I.G. Burton, and Charles Burton.
Second net honors went to Crete “Crusher” Catlett, Toby Lopez, Scott George, and Kenny Merritt, who combined for a 57.
Other winners were as follows:
Long Drive, Men: C. W. Mitchell
Long Drive, Women: Mary Gardner
Closest to the pin, Hole Number 5: Alton Jones, 9 feet 7 inches
Closest to the pin, Hole Number 19: Joe Shockley, 3 feet
Closest to the pin, Hole Number 13: Steve Smith, 2 feet 8 inches
Closest to the pin, Hole Number 15: Joe Shockley, 17 feet one inch
Cape Henlopen’s golf team beat Polytech at Rehoboth Beach Country Club April 29 by a comfortable 171-190. Dan Prettyman led the Vikings with his 40, followed by Adam Talley (42), Josh Marr (44), and Bob Croce (45). The team next hosted Dover on May 5.