The Last Hurrah – 2012 Version

Seasonably mild weather has hit Southern Ontario and despite my usual routine of putting away the golf clubs after Canadian Thanksgiving, which was just celebrated this past weekend, I’ll be playing two more rounds before going into hibernation.

I’m scheduled to play on Wednesday afternoon with Drew, our head professional at St. Catharines G&CC and the club’s consulting architect, friend of Now on the Tee Ian Andrew, who also writes a fantastic blog that should be bookmarked by anyone who is interested in course design.

Ian will be visiting the club to give the final approval for a new bunker that will be built on the par four 2nd hole, essentially replacing a tree that blew down in a wind storm last year. Weather permitting, we’ll tee it up around noon after his work is completed. I’m looking forward to seeing Ian again and hope to chat with him about a couple of things, most specifically, golf in Scotland.

Yes, I’m thinking of finally biting the proverbial bullet and making my first-ever trip overseas to the Home of Golf!

Then, on Friday, I’m scheduled to take part in the final of the Niagara Cup, a Ryder Cup style event between many of the clubs in the region. We defeated Rockway Glen and Peninsula Lakes to get to this point and are currently tied 9-9 versus our rivals at the gorgeous Lookout Point CC as we head to their course for the last leg of the event.

I’ve been fortunate to win all of my matches to this point of the competition, winning a singles match at Rockway Glen against a two-time Canadian Open participant, winning another singles match at Peninsula Lakes and also won two best ball matches, one against Pen Lakes and another against Lookout, with both of those matches taking place at St. Catharines.

I’ve had to take a few half-days off work to play in the matches but it’s very much worth the hassle – the Niagara Cup is one of my favourite events but due to family commitments, a competition I’ve been unable to participate in for the past few years. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to have been asked to take part this year and hope to put a good performance together on Friday afternoon in my final game of 2012.

My game has been okay lately. Certainly not spectacular but efficient, with a bunch of rounds in the mid-to-upper 70s. That steady game was in effect on Monday last week when I hosted the 2nd Annual Turkey 2 Ball Invitational at St. Catharines G&CC.

This event was devised as a “year-end blowoff” of sorts for the large group of lower handicaps at the club, including our professional and greenskeeping staff and the inaugural event in 2011 was met with great enthusiasm. Once again, I was able to get 24 players to take part in the competition, with a $600.00 skins game and a $2400.00 prize pool to be split up among the top three teams.

We had a draw party on the preceding Friday night, with the higher half of the field getting randomly drawn then getting the chance to “draft” their lower handicap partner. We had a nice pizza and wing buffet prepared by the club for all participants and a lot of laughs (and drinks) were had by all. The only players exempt from the draft were the 2011 champions, who would get the chance to defend their title in 2012.

In the end, the team of Brad Butler and Bill Winn took home the coveted Turkey 2 Ball title with a fine best ball score of 71 (-1) on a very cold Thanksgiving Monday to split the substantial 1st place prize money. I’m happy to report that I actually cashed in my own event this year, finishing in a tie for 3rd place with my partner for the day, Ian. It wasn’t a big payday due to the tie but we also won a team skin for our dual birdies on the 18th hole so we came out a little ahead on the day considering the large entry fee.

It was another great tournament and I’m not only excited about next year’s Turkey 2 Ball but also another similar event that we plan to run in the spring of 2013.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Perhaps I’ll report back on my Niagara Cup finals match but if not, I’ll definitely reserve some space for it in my 2012 season review in December or early January. In the meantime, be on the lookout for my next course profile – the super-exclusive Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak collaboration in the Hamptons, Sebonack Golf Club.

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