However, this year there was a new wrinkle, with head-to-head, NCAA bracket style matchups during the preliminary rounds, culminating in a final between only two clubs as opposed to the normal six clubs.
We were able to defeat Lancaster CC, LochNess Links and Rolling Meadows in separate, home-and-home matchups to roll into the finals against Niagara Falls Country Club, the Lewiston, NY home of the annual Porter Cup competition.
All year, we were hoping to have this matchup – NFCC has won every single Niagara Cup that they have participated in so you always want to matchup against the very best in these type of competitions.
From a personal standpoint, I also wanted the opportunity to play their golf course – I’ve never teed it up out there and haven’t even walked it since Gary Nicklaus won the Porter Cup many moons ago. It’s an A.W. Tillinghast design, the very same man who designed the Black Course at Bethpage and a course I’ve wanted to play for some time.
So needless to say, I was pumped when we got into the finals and found that NFCC got through their side of the bracket as well for the heavyweight final tilt!
The first leg took place at St. Catharines on Friday afternoon, necessitating a day off for yours truly. It was a bitter cold and windy day but thankfully, the rain stayed away.
There were to be two best ball matches and four singles matches on the day, each being worth three points. You get one point for winning the front, one for the back and one for winning the overall match. All matches are played straight up, with no handicaps.
I was put in a singles match against Mario, a very outgoing and chatty NFCC member. I was a bit worried at the outset that he’d be a bit TOO chatty but he was an absolute gentleman, as were all of the NFCC participants.
I’m not going to go through the entire match on a hole-by-hole basis…perhaps I will do that for the NFCC leg of the competition.
I came out of the gates quickly, making par to Mario’s bogey after he drove into the trees left of the fairway, making the rookie mistake of hitting driver off the tee.
He’d get the match back to even when I three-whacked the par four 3rd hole and made bogey to his par. I quickly got back in the driver’s seat on the par three 4th, making par to his bogey.
I’d make a great birdie on the par five 6th to best his bogey then make a routine par on the 7th after Mario put his tee ball in the water to move to 3up in the match.
However, he’d come back with a solid birdie of his own on the 8th and we’d saw off the 9th with pars, giving me a 2up lead on the 10th tee to win the front nine point. I shot 36 on the front while he came in with a 39.
I’d really grab control early on the back. I made about a 12 footer on the par five 10th for another birdie to go three up and get into red figures at one under for the round. Then, Mario would three-whack on the par four 11th, making bogey and giving me another hole.
I would blow a chance to take a five up lead on the downhill par three 12th, notching another three putt of my own for bogey to tie Mario then I three-putted AGAIN on the 13th from only 15 feet, making another bogey and tying him again.
I’m a bit ticked and try to tell myself to suck it up and close out the match right here but we both tally pars on the 14th hole to put the match at dormie.
Thankfully, I’d close out Mario on the 15th, making a routine par versus his bogey to take the overall match 5&3. We’d both par the 16th as well and that locked down the back nine point for me too, giving me all three available points in our match.
I’d bogey the 17th and par 18 to shoot a solid 74 (+2) on the day and our club dominated the proceedings on this day, coming out with a commanding 14.5 to 3.5 lead going into the final leg, which takes place at Niagara Falls CC on Saturday this weekend. I also won a $50.00 skin for my birdie on the sixth hole, a nice bonus!
I’m told that many of NFCC’s top players weren’t able to play at St. Catharines but will be playing on Saturday so it could still be a contest. I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally get the chance to play NFCC after walking it a number of times while watching the Porter Cup.
On Sunday, there were nine of us at the club for our regular game, perhaps one of the final games of the year. I’d be one of only two guys to break 80 on the day, shooting 75 (+3) and winning two skins. We also played a three-man best ball competition that our team took down AND I took Bernie’s money in our regular match play game so I had a nice haul on Sunday!!
The weekend was topped off with a CONVINCING AND DECISIVE victory over our favourite blogger Harry in Fantasy Football. Harry, if you don’t already know, doesn’t play golf on Sundays once September hits – he puts his football jammies on, fires up his laptop and watches the NFL Network from 8am to 1pm to make sure he has all nine of his fantasy teams in perfect order before the games start up.
Just to let you know, I played 18 holes Sunday morning, had a drink with the boys on the patio and still had time to take the two minutes necessary to set my lineup and DESTROY THE FANTASY GURU HIMSELF!!!
The fact that I’m tied for first in that league is just icing on the proverbial cake!
I’ll be back on the weekend with my report from NFCC!