January 22, 2016
Pete Oakley might be cashing his Social Security checks, but he can still raise his golf game to meet the occasion.
The 66-year-old co-owner of The Rookery and 2004 Senior British Open champion finished tied for third in the PGA Quarter-Century Championship, held Jan. 9-10 at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, FL.
“I didn’t start off all that well, but had a great second round,” Oakley said. “I was in the 65 and above group, and it was the largest field I’ve ever seen for this tournament. It’s one of the big ones the PGA holds in Florida in the winter. I saw lots of guys I’ve played against for years, and that was fun.”
The par-72 Ryder course had been shortened a bit for the tournament. Oakley said driver-wedge shots on par 4s were common.
“It was a lot shorter than I was used to, so when I shot 72 in the first round it felt like an 80. I was putting just awful. And then, before the second round, I came across a copy of ‘Golf Is Not A Game of Perfect’ in the locker room. I read a quote from Ben Crenshaw about needing to have a sense of ‘flowing feel,’ and tried to keep that in mind,” Oakley said.
A bogey on the second hole annoyed Oakley, but then his new mantra began to take hold. “I finished that front nine in 2-under, and then on the back nine started out birdie, birdie, eagle. I hit all 18 greens in regulation, except I hit two of the par fives in two shots, and made eagle on both. So that’s like hitting 20 greens. I putted the eyes out of that ball, and finished with a 65,” Oakley said.
He also picked up a nice check for $1,100 for the weekend, which Oakley agreed should spend nicely.
When we chatted Jan. 11, Oakley was readying himself for another tournament, the 60-90 division of the Senior Stroke Play Championship, held Jan. 12-14 at the same course. “I’ve done really well in that event in the past, so I’ll see if this new putting thing continues.”
From the results, it looks like his “flowing feel” work paid off. Oakley finished in a tie for 6th place, with a fine 70-67-68-205 total over three rounds, an 11-under performance. Randy Erskine, the winner, played on the PGA Tour in the 1970s. He went a little nuts, routing the field at 22-under, four strokes ahead of second-place finisher Mike San Felippo, whose three straight 66s weren’t enough to win.
The Wind in Winter
The snowfall during Jan. 17 marked the official start to the winter season in the Cape Region. It is highly unlikely that the inch of white stuff we saw that day is all that we will experience in the next two months, but we might still have some good days for golf nonetheless.
The freezing temperatures will cause frost delays at a minimum. Even when the courses are open for play, however, golfers should be careful about how they walk on the greens, to avoid damaging the tender turf.
In addition, the harder greens may also combine with winter winds to produce the situation raised in a recent USGA Golf FAQ, found at the organization’s website, usga.org.
A golfer’s ball sits on the green as he steps back to read the line for his first putt. The ball then moves, because of the combined effects of wind gusts and the slope of the green.
As the USGA notes, after the ball stops the player must play the ball from its new position, without penalty.
If the ball managed to roll into the hole, it counts as a continuation (hole-out) of the last stroke.
It is also irrelevant whether the golfer had removed the ball marker from behind the ball before the wind shoved it. Once the ball was placed back on the green, it was in play, and the winter wind could then do its thing.
Indoor Winter Golf Clinic February 6
This year’s edition of the Walt Jones Memorial Project Indoor Winter Golf Clinic, benefiting Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, will be held Feb. 6 at Delmarva Christian High School, in Georgetown, DE.
Teams of local PGA professionals will set up small groups for instruction in driving, pitching, putting, and other aspects of the game. The morning sessions run from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and the afternoon sessions are from noon to 2:00 p.m.
The fees are $45 per adult, and $35 per child ages 8 to 17. Any child must be accompanied by an adult.
Snacks and lunch will be available for purchase, along with 50/50 tickets.
These spots usually fill up fast, so don’t delay if you’re interested. For more information, call 302-855-1153, ext. 209, or email AR@sussexcountyhabitat.org.