October 27, 2006
This week’s column is in several parts, none of which have much to do with each other—except for the golf part, that is.
Making a shambles out of a shamble
Shawnee Country Club held its season-ending men’s tournament on October 22, and it was a shamble.
This is a fun competitive format. The players hit their tee shots from designated tee boxes based on their A, B, C, or D handicap status. The foursome then selects the best drive. Each player takes their second shots from that spot, and plays in until the hole is completed. There is usually a discounted handicapping arrangement, which this year was set at 80%.
For reasons completely unrelated to my own skill, I was pleased at our prospects when I saw who was in my foursome.
George Merchant of Lewes, a genial computing guru, lead off our merry band. Since his group won last year’s event, that alone seemed pretty promising for us. David Hankins was our B player, and he’s always capable of booming some long, pretty drives. Norm Hamstead’s handicap is not where he’d like it, but since he was driving from the forward tees, I was sure he’d make some useful contributions.
All of my pre-round predictions turned out as I thought they would, with one notable exception–that being our score.
We played well together, and everyone pitched in toward our total on several holes. We just couldn’t make nearly as many net birdies as we needed, finishing in the deep middle of the pack at 17-under par.
The winning total was a blistering 35-under, set by Steven Jebo, Robert Parker, Tom Frantz, and Jeffrey Mahle.
Obviously, those guys bear watching—but I’m not bitter. When asked how the tournament went, I’ll simply say, once again and with a flourish, “We participated!”
A plug for plugging
Most Cape Region golf courses have completed their scheduled aeration projects for this fall. While it’s sometimes bothersome to play during the post-plugging period, it’s a necessary part of maintaining good playing conditions.
Cutting and removing small cores of greenside turf and roots helps reduce compaction that can lead to turf diseases and myriad other problems. Filling the resulting holes with sandy topdressing helps retain airflow to the remaining root systems, and also improves the greens’ overall condition as the turf slowly refills the plugged spaces. In addition, aeration removes some of the thatch from old turf, which if left in place can strangle new growth.
For some golfers, aerification supplies a ready excuse for their normally wretched putting. Once their ball starts bouncing off-line, they can easily say it wasn’t their fault. When the ball takes an odd bounce and falls into the hole, however, why that was simply their skillful adaptation to the playing conditions.
Golfers are nothing if not flexible in explaining how they scored.
Last chance for some highly paid pros
This weekend is the last full-field event on the 2006 PGA Tour schedule, and some players are probably feeling a little desperate.
If they don’t finish in the top 125 on the money list, their chances for playing a full slate of PGA Tour events next season are seriously diminished. Thirty-eight touring pros are entered in the event who have not yet achieved that goal, so look for some very serious faces if you’re watching the tournament’s final rounds.
The Chrysler Championship is held at the Westin Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course near Tampa, Florida, a tough layout I played earlier this year. As I wrote here shortly afterward, playing Copperhead gave me a renewed appreciation for how good these players really are.
The current player at number 147 on the money list, U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen, still managed to earn a fairly pleasant $508,555 before this final event. It’s a little hard to say he’s in real trouble after only earning a half-million, but everything is relative.