Got to have my priorities in order, right?
We have a lottery system at St. Catharines for weekend times due to demand and it usually works out pretty well, with most of the times booked for our 8-12 guys ending up close together. That didn’t happen on Saturday, as the times I scheduled for 7:45am saw us get one at 7:15am and the other at 8am.
Thankfully, everyone showed up for their times and I ended up playing with Bernie and Harris that morning, with our standard $5.00 wager all around, match play format with no strokes.
I’ve been fortunate enough to get into Bernie’s pocket quite a bit early on this year, probably at a 50% clip. Not bad considering he’s won the club championship about 8 times and is a scratch player. We throw a little trash talk all around to start and then Harry tells us a story that has us practically in tears of laughter.
Unfortunately, it’s not safe to talk about at a clean, family site like Now on the Tee. 😉
Right off the bat, it looks like I’m going to go low. I hit a great opening drive off the 10th hole (our first of the day), hit a hybrid club just short then pitch to about two feet. Both Harry and Bernie are also in tight but both miss their birdie efforts on the aerated greens but I tap mine in to start off at one under.
I barely miss birdie on the second hole then pretty much lip out my tee shot on the par three 12th, ending up about two feet behind the stick. I’d tap that one in and I’m two under through three.
I’d make a routine par on the tough 13th and to this point, I’ve hit every shot right on the button. Literally a perfect start through four.
I would start to get sloppy with the swing though. I’d hit a crappy iron into the front bunker on 14 and not get up and down, make decent pars on 15 & 16 but then bogey both 17 & 18 for a slightly disappointing 37 on our first nine, considering my start.
The sloppiness would continue with bogeys on #1 and #2, four bogeys in a row.
“Man, I can’t stop the bleeding”, I stutter to Harris, who couldn’t give two shits about my predicament I’m sure, as he was masterfully playing army golf through his first eleven holes.
Left, Right, Left….Left….Left, Right, Left.
Actually, it was more rights then lefts but you get the drift.
I’d finally make a par on the 3rd, follow with a par on 4 then hit a gorgeous hybrid second shot into the long 5th after a poor drive to about six feet. I’d sink that for my third birdie of the day to get back to +2.
I’d par six, bogey seven, make a two putt birdie on #8 and barely miss another birdie on the ninth to come back in 37 shots, shooting a 74 (+2).
I’d win my match against Bernie, win two bets against Harry (he had the balls to press me after being four down through nine holes) and also clean up with two skins as I continue to vacuum in the cash lately. Well, I didn’t win a lot, especially since Harry didn’t have enough money to pay me off. Well, he bought me a pop so he only owes me $8.00 now. 😉
I then had to go out and get a birthday present for my godson, follow that with a long session in my yard, cutting the grass and weeding then got washed up and headed to the godson’s birthday party with my wife.
We only stayed an hour because we then had to drive to Buffalo to pick up my wife’s sister and her two kids, as they are visiting from Redmond, Washington for three weeks. They are staying at their mother’s place and we all had a great dinner and a bunch of beers and wine to top the night off. Busy day!
I followed that up by heading down to Bradford, Pennsylvania the next morning with my buddies Jay, Toast and Doctor Greg for the Pine Acres Better Ball tournament. We grabbed breakfast at the club beforehand then made the lovely two plus hour drive through the States.
Bernie and Joey B also headed down in their own car so there were six of us who ultimately made the trip. Harry had to bow out this year due to a party he had to attend – he also had to play his first round Langley match and you can read his eventful recap here.
Pine Acres is a true hidden gem – it’s located up on top of a mountain and is just a beautiful and fun golf course to play. There’s nothing special about it but all I can say is that it’s a peaceful place to tee it up, with majestic pines lining the fairways and a great set of green complexes that drive you completely batty if you aren’t confident with the flatstick.
While the course continues to be well worth the drive, the tournament itself continues to get weaker. The first year I went, it was fully sponsored by Rolling Rock, the Pennsylvania beer company, and there were kegs on about six holes along with barbeque stations all over the course.
All the booze and grub was included in the $70.00 entry fee.
Rolling Rock pulled their sponsorship about three years ago and the course went down to one area with beer and food, at the halfway house between #9 & #10.
This year? No beer for free. None. Not a big deal to me, as I don’t drink much anyway but still a cheap move considering the entry fee didn’t go down.
The green fee to walk the golf course on weekends is a palty $30.00. Like I said, it’s a true hidden gem and is a complete STEAL to play for that amount. You can play and ride for $40.00 and if you decide to play 36, you get the second 18 for the regular price of a cart, which is $17.00. So you can play two rounds of golf, with a cart there for $57.00 during high season.
That’s nuts for a course of this quality.
It also proves that the tournament is drastically overpriced but I’ll likely still go back next year without even questioning it. I want to get into the money one year!
It wasn’t to be in 2008 though. Jay and I teamed up and neither of us played our best. Things started off well enough for me, as I parred my first hole, starting on their dogleg right par four 14th.
The hole above is the great, downhill par five 15th, which I was forced to make a six footer for par after leaving my birdie putt woefully short. I’d par both 16 and 17 as well, then hit a big drive on the par five 18th. I’d slightly pull my hybrid approach from about 245 yards and ended up in the pond fronting the green. I’d make bogey there but come back in style with a great birdie on the par four 1st hole to get back to even.
I’d par both the 2nd and 3rd holes so I’m even par through 8 holes.
Then, came my nemesis hole at Pine Acres: the dreaded par five 4th hole. This sucker measures a sporty 587 yards from the MIDDLE TEES at Pine Acres and is a big, dogleg right where any drives pulled left are out of bounds. Left is my miss, so I decided to hit a two iron hybrid off the tee. I’d yank that too but I was still in play and in reasonably good shape. I’d hit four-iron, seven-iron and find myself in the front right bunker, with a very short little blast shot to the front pin.
No problem right? Not on this green!
I’d take four shots to get down from there, making an ugly double bogey seven to start a streak of sloppy play. I’d bogey the next two holes, pick up a six footer on the 7th with Jay already in the hole with par then right the ship somewhat with a birdie chip-in on the eighth hole to get back to +3 on my own ball.
I’d par the ninth, shown above, as Jay hits his approach into the green after his best drive of the day but would get an awful bounce on the short par four tenth, shown below, as my ball would end up just out of bounds and I was out of that hole with a computer double.
I’d also bogey our last hole, the par three 13th to shoot a 78 (+6), a pretty crappy score for me but definitely it was all I deserved on this day. Jay shot an 86 and our better ball score of 75 won us nothing. In fact, our net 71 tied for the worst score in the tournament I believe. Not that we were going to win a net prize anyway! Still, it was a fun day and it was nice getting out to play with Jay again, who hopefully had a good time regardless of our bad luck with the score.
Bernie and Joey actually finished second in the tournament, shooting a better ball score of 68 on the strength of Bernie’s personal round of 69 – that’s good shooting! Toast and the good doctor combined for a fine 72 and finished one spot out of the money.
This was my fourth time down there and I’ve yet to do better than 74 as a best ball score. Not pretty but still, I had a fun day, the course and company were great, the ice cream at the foot of the hill still rules the world (we stopped both on the way to the course AND on the way home) and we finished it off with some pizza at Bugsy’s back home.
I’m heading to Glen Abbey tomorrow for the annual Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Halton charity golf tournament. My father and I are the defending champions of the event so we were invited back again this year. You can relive the glory by reading last year’s writeup here. We are playing with two different partners this year and neither of them are ringers like we had last year so there won’t be a repeat, I assure you.
Hopefully, the rain holds off – it’s a great tournament for a fantastic cause and it’s always a treat to play Glen Abbey, which is once again hosting the Canadian Open this year so it should be in great shape.
This is a broken up holiday weekend in Canada as well, with Canada Day falling on Tuesday. I have Niagara Cup matches on both Saturday and Sunday then will just play with the regular gang on Tuesday, as Toast and I decided to pass on St. Thomas G&CC despite winning the lottery for the reciprocal tee time that day. That’s because our two other partners in crime, Doctor Greg and Harry have to work that day. Someday, we’ll get to play that gem of a course!
Oh yeah, just wanted to bust on Harry just one last time (I swear) by proudly saying that I hit his own goal on the weekend, dropping to a 2 handicap after the 74 on Saturday. My current index is down to 1.9 and is only 0.2 away from my lifetime best mark of 1.7.
I don’t know if I have a scratch handicap in me but it’s satisfying to get back to a 2 again. Now, I just need to break par for the first time this year! Hopefully that great round is just around the corner.