One!!! (Part One)

The second round (quarterfinals) of the Niagara Cup took place this past weekend, with St. Catharines facing LochNess Links, formerly known as Hunters Pointe in the head-to-head match play competition.

Harry, grab a smoke and get comfortable because this could be another long post. Actually, I’ll break it up into two posts. It was a very notable weekend for yours truly.

We beat Lockport Town G&CC in the first round of the competition, which I recapped in a blog post here. I played in a better ball match, teaming with our senior club champion to win all three points in the St. Catharines leg of the competition after being unable to play at the Lockport leg due to a conflict with the Niagara Men’s Tour.

On Saturday, we headed to LochNess Links to play the first leg of the quarterfinal round. I was going to be playing in a singles match against Brian E, a fine young player from LochNess. I had played with Brian one other time, that being a Niagara Men’s Tour event a couple years back and he is a very smooth swinger who can belt the ball a long way. I looked forward to the match, as I knew Brian to be a great guy in addition to being a good player so it looked like it would be a fun day.

Our men’s club champion and good friend Bernie was also playing in my foursome and he was facing the owner of LochNess AND his former employer in a singles match. Oooh, the drama!

Let me start by saying that LochNess is a linksy golf course, perhaps similar to what English Dave would see on the other side of the ocean. The wind was HOWLING at close to 40 miles per hour, almost as windy as the day Harry and I played the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach in April.

Here’s how the match played out:

– HOLE 1 (Par 4): I drove it right down the pipe on what used to be number ten here (they switched the nines this year, keeping only #9 and #18 intact) but the wind grabbed my 4-iron second shot and blew it into the fescue left of the green. I chopped out short, chipped on terribly to 15 feet and missed the putt, making double. I conceded Brian’s short bogey putt. Matt 1Down
– HOLE 2 (Par 3): This hole was playing 241 yards into the stiff breeze. Brian pulls his shot left of the bunker while I walk up and absolutely rifle a 2-iron hybrid right at the stick, ending up 2 feet away. Brian pitches long and misses his par putt while I stroke my birdie into the back of the cup.

“That’s GOT to be money”, Brian says, as there was a skins game going on too and you’d have to think that would be the only birdie on this hole today. Match All Square

– HOLE 3 (Par 5): I drive down the middle while Brian again goes left of the fairway. I drill another 2-iron hybrid just short of the green and Brian does the same. Chipping contest! I hit my ball just past the pin and it rolls back down the slope, leaving me with a testy little 8 footer downhill. Brian snuggles his in there about six feet short of the stick, right up the hill. I figure I need to make mine to halve and I do, knocking in my second consecutive birdie. Brian, however, misses. Matt 1up
– HOLE 4 (Par 4): I hit a weak push right of the fairway and Brian bombs his down the middle. I hit an excellent shot with a hybrid that just comes up short. I hit a poor pitch to 8 feet and miss, making bogey. Meanwhile, Brian again pulls his second, this time into the fescue. He punches out but has a 50 footer for par. He rams it well by but makes a clutch 7 footer for bogey to halve the hole. Matt 1up
– HOLE 5 (Par 3): Tiny little par three where I hit the green and have only 18 feet or so for birdie. Brian hits long but leaves his chip a foot away. I concede his par then barely miss my birdie putt. Matt 1up
– HOLE 6 (Par 5): I rock another drive here and Brian once again goes left. We both layup to around 100 yards and both hit the green, with me being a bit closer. He misses his birdie and I concede his par but my birdie effort is a bit frisky. He makes me putt my 4 footer and I make it. Matt 1up
– HOLE 7 (Par 4): This hole is called ‘Half Pipe’ due to the fact it slopes well downhill and has a bowl-shaped fairway. It was playing about 460 yards and was screaming downwind. I DESTROYED my drive and had a crowd-pleasing 93 yards to the middle. That’s right Harris and Toast…a 367 yard drive! I’d hit my lob wedge to about 12 feet and barely miss the birdie putt. Brian hit into the greenside bunker and almost holed it, as I conceded his par. Matt 1up

At this point, I say something like “Great grinding Brian”, a bit of gamesmanship perhaps on my part. I don’t know if it affected him at all but I worried immediately after saying it that I might have inspired him to play better.

– HOLE 8 (Par 3): Another ridiculously long par three, this one measuring 245 yards. However, we had the wind at our backs and it’s an elevated tee so I hit a 5-iron that just drifted right of the green, pin-high. Brian hit a beauty on the green, about 20 feet away. I’d hit another poor chip and miss my seven footer, making bogey while Brian made a three footer for par to even the match. Match All Square
– HOLE 9 (Par 5): Brian cracks here, finally, hitting a huge push slice into the water. I play safe and hit left of the fairway to avoid the big number. I give Brian a very good drop on the other side of the lake (I really could have forced him to reload he hit it so far right) and he lays up to about 150 yards. I hit a solid strike to about 100 yards then Brian AGAIN hits it into the water. Wow. I just make sure to clear the pond in front of the green and hit a solid wedge to about 12 feet. Brian drops and hits his sixth shot nicely to about 8 feet but concedes my birdie putt and the hole. Matt 1up

So I barely get my point for the front nine, shooting a 37 to his 41.

– HOLE 10 (Par 4): Brian hits his ball well right into the hazard and makes double. I hit a 4-iron down the middle, hit to the right side of the green and make par. Matt 2up Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
– HOLE 11 (Par 4): I picked 4-iron again for this hole but thought it might be too much club to avoid the water. I made a wishy-washy swing and my ball goes right toward the hazard. It’s dry but not really playable so I take my drop, hit into the greenside bunker and make double. Brian ALSO hits into the water but is able to salvage a bogey. Matt 1up Overall; Back Nine All Square
– HOLE 12 (Par 3): Brian hits his tee shot left and can’t get up and down. I hit a beauty right over top of the flagstick but nail my birdie putt 6 feet past. I make the comebacker. Matt 2up Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
– HOLE 13 (Par 4): Short par four here and I drive just into the second cut while Brian again snaps his drive into the fescue. He hits a fantastic punch shot to 5 feet and I don’t get all of my wedge, coming up 20 feet short. I miss my birdie and am shocked when Brian also misses his. Matt 2up Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
– HOLE 14 (Par 5): We both drive perfectly down the middle and I hit a hybrid layup to about 50 yards. Brian’s layup sails well left again but he hits another terrific pitch shot to about 18 feet. He pars and I barely miss my 12 foot birdie putt. Matt 2up Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
– HOLE 15 (Par 3): Very difficult 215 yard par 3 into the wind. I hit 3-iron hybrid to the front left of the green and Brian BARELY misses going in the water, just clearing the pond. He leaves his chip a foot away and I concede his par. Meanwhile, I leave my 40 foot birdie putt about 8 feet short but make a very difficult left to righter to salvage the halve. Matt 2up Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
– HOLE 16 (Par 4): I make a mental error here. Pars were my friend at this point and I should have just hit a 4-iron down the middle on this short par four. Instead, I hit driver into a gaping fairway bunker, hack it out into the greenside bunker and make bogey. Brian makes a routine par. Matt 1up Overall; Back Nine All Square
– HOLE 17 (Par 4): Brian has new life and rips a drive down the middle while I go right of the fairway into the fescue. Luckily, I draw a great lie and I’m able to muscle an 8-iron to the front of the green. Brian hits onto about 20 feet and ends up making par. I hit a nice birdie putt from 40 feet to about 2 and a half feet but Brian, being one down, makes me putt. I easily make it and I have motivation going to the last hole. Matt 1up Overall; Back Nine All Square
– HOLE 18 (Par 5): The last hole is a downhill, downwind risk/reward par five with water running all the way down the left side. Brian hits a bunt driver that just goes into the right rough, about 220 yards away. I KILL a drive and am right down the middle, only 193 yards away. Brian’s lie looks awkward and with 3 wood in his hand, smacks it right into the water.


I contemplate laying up but 193 yards, uphill and downwind is just a good 5-iron for me so I decide what the hell.

Bang! 25 feet away for eagle!

Brian drops then hits his fourth shot to about 15 feet. I leave my eagle putt about 2 feet away and Brian graciously concedes the birdie and the match. Matt Wins 2up Overall; Matt Wins 1up Back Nine

So I’m able to nab all three points in the match and ended up shooting 75 from the backs, a pretty great score for me out there. Unbelievably, someone cut up my birdie on the 2nd hole but my birdie on the par five 3rd actually held up, giving me a $32.00 skin. Not bad!

We fared quite well the first day, taking 10.5 of the 18 points available to give us a 3 point lead going back home to St. Catharines the next day. How did we fare, you ask? And what in the hell does the title “One!!!” mean?

Well, lets just say that Mother Nature had a huge say in what happened and when we finally got started for real, we weren’t at St. Catharines OR LochNess Links.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two!

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