February 4, 2011
Every so often I think about putting together a book-length collection of the best golf columns I’ve written, since the first one appeared here in January 1999.
And yes, I’m fully aware that some of my best friends might suggest that this book’s length would only be about the same as a short story, or something by Dr. Seuss.
That said, I wonder sometimes how ephemeral some of these pieces are, and how many of them become part of someone’s scrapbook collection of fond memories.
This week’s column has some of that same purpose, but it’s for a far more immediate cause than a noteworthy comment about someone you know.
It’s about betting.
After all, one of golf’s most alluring attributes is that there are dozens of ways to put a little sumpin’ sumpin’ on a round, in a friendly wager kind of way.
In fact, some of the Cape Region’s finest attorneys have been known to bet the occasional dollar or two, to enhance their competitive instincts on the course.
Last summer, for example, well-known Rehoboth Beach lawyer Rob Witsil called me on no less than three occasions, just as he was about to play 18 holes with similarly noteworthy local counsel Jim Fuqua and Bill Schab.
On each occasion, Witsil’s first words on the phone were the same: “Hey! Tell me how to play that three-person game again!”
On each occasion, my reply was the same: “Which one?”
A little more conversation would then take place, at which point I would remind Witsil how to play either Nines, or Monkey in the Middle.
Nines is a fun but potentially expensive way to bet and beat on each other. For each hole, a total of nine points are available. Each member of the threesome plays their own ball, off the best player’s handicap, and compares scores per hole.
A player winning outright earns five points, a player in sole second takes three, and the one bringing up the rear earns a single point. A three way tie earns three points each, and a first with two tied for second is split 5-2-2.
At the end of the round, total up the points.
If one of you is “having a bad day,” the game of Nines can really punish you, as I can attest from painful personal experience.
If you want the competition to be a lot less likely to lighten your wallet considerably, then try Monkey in the Middle instead, with two of your friends.
Each player tees off, and walks to their respective golf balls. The one in the middle of the other two is the Monkey for that hole. They all play off the best player’s handicap again,
If the Monkey’s net score is better than the other two, Monkey earns two points, and the other two each lose a point. If one or both of the other two players has the best score, they each earn a point, and the Monkey loses two points.
If the Monkey and another player (or both) tie for best on the hole, there are no points.
Monkey in the Middle points usually don’t take quite the same potential bite out of the players’ pockets that Nines can. Therefore, it’s more enjoyable for those who are either struggling a bit with their game, or, frankly, cheap.
Which reminds me. I don’t think I ever learned if Fuqua, Schab, or Witsil won those summertime matches.
In any event, this column should be clipped, laminated, and placed carefully in one of the small pockets of your golf bag for the upcoming season. Buy extra copies of the paper, and do the same for your golfing friends.
Your buddies, and the fine folks who own this newspaper, will thank you.