October 22, 1999
Today’s column continues the story of playing in the 1999 Oldsmobile Scramble National Finals. You won’t be given a shot-by-shot history. We promise.
The Second Round-Kings Creek team sets a tournament record
Drivers with Oldsmobile courtesy cars took us to Eagle Pines just before dawn on Thursday, October 7. Floodlights lit up the putting green and driving range near the clubhouse. A free continental breakfast helped pass the time until the sun came up and play could start.
Sun? What sun?
As we prepared for our second shot on the 10th hole, our first of the day, the rain started. Intermittent and surprisingly forceful showers lasted for several holes at a time.
Our early hopes soon proved far too optimistic. Kevin Conlon rolled in a 45-foot bomb on our sixth hole for our only birdie of the day. Just before an extended rain delay we went back to par with a bogey on a par 3. After the restart, we then added another bogey on our last hole to shoot a 73, net 69.
Our butchered round set a 1999 Oldsmobile tournament record. It was the highest score achieved by any of the national finalists in either gross or net categories.
It may be a dubious record, but it’s ours. No one can take it away from us.
The Third Round–redemption, eventually
Our record-setting performance in the second round put us in last place among the 150 teams in the net competition. No matter how well we played in the third round, there was no way we would ever make the cut for the top 24 positions.
So we changed our goal.
We decided we would not finish dead last. That is, if we could ever get started.
Morning showers continued on into the afternoon. About an hour before our scheduled 1:40 p.m. start, the rains poured down, making the steps outside the clubhouse look like a waterfall. Play was suspended again, this time for nearly two hours.
We finally started our third round about 4 p.m. For the first time, we played with the same combination of ability and luck that brought us to Disney World in the first place. After Conlon made a birdie putt on the first hole, Nick DelCampo chipped in for another birdie on the second. David Jones hit a second shot stiff at the fourth hole for another birdie.
With each birdie we told ourselves we had just moved up one notch on the roster. Play was called at 7:00 p.m., just as another downpour flooded the course, and we were forced to finish on Saturday morning, October 9.
Our luck continued the next day. We finished with our best round, a 64 net 60. That was good for a 64th place finish for the day, and 141st overall.
We met our goal. We didn’t finish last.
Having a goal is good. Having a realistic goal and making it is even better. It turned out that making the cut for the final round required a total score of 172 (two 57s and a 58). Considering our amateur handicaps, we really had only a slight chance of making the cut, even with Jones’ help.
We continued to play as a team. Just over 31 per cent of our total shots in all three rounds came from Jones. The rest of us each contributed between 15 and 19 per cent of our total.
Despite our tournament record, participating in the Oldsmobile Scramble National Finals was a memorable experience, and not simply because of the golf. The next column will show you why.