Dave Tutelman -- 6/15/2004
that pictures are thumbnail-links; click on them for the full-size
RSG-Hershey was a tribute to flexible planning. Actually, the whole
event was a last-minute thing, the ultimate flexible plan. Coops and
many of the usual RSG-Hershey-goers had just gotten back from the
Scotland trip, and one and all had assumed that Hershey just would not
happen this year. But Coops reacted to that in horror, and told us
exactly when and where it would be -- and that we'd better be there.
Some of us were. The census was up to nine for the tournament round
Saturday morning. But we expected the Friday round at Armitage to be
just a single foursome.
That turned out to be the first exercise of flexible planning. The
Friday round was neither a foursome nor at Armitage. It was raining
fairly hard through much of the morning and still raining substantially
at our two o'clock tee time. We waited for a bit longer, until they
told us that the course was closed and would remain closed all day. In
the meantime, Mark Georg had shown up early. So we were were five:
Jon Green, Roger Georg, Mark, and me. We decided to go to Groff's Farm,
a "funky little course" (Coops' description) in Coops' home town of
The "funky little course" was open, and in pretty good shape. And since
by now it was four o'clock, we played twilight rates and pretty much
had the course to ourselves. Coops got called away on business as we
were about to tee off, and he said he'd find us on the course and join
us when he was done. So the four of us set out in a rain that was a
little heavier than what I'd call "refreshing". But no worry mate --
for me at least. My new Sun Mountain cart has an umbrella stand (thanks
for the recommendation, Terry), so it kept the clubs dry with no
effort. (Those of you who were at RSG-Pittsburgh witnessed the wreck
that mandated my getting a new push-cart.)
The course was playing longer than the scorecard would have you believe
(6000 from the whites, which I think is what we played; the back tees
are 6400 yards). First of all, it was wet; you got very little roll in
the fairways, and absolutely none in the wiry, dense rough. Also the
course is fairly hilly, and demands precision shots in many cases. A
challenging and fun course. I'd certainly like to play it again, maybe
in some future RSG-Hershey (hint! hint!).
Early in our round, Jon and Mark took a lot of heat about their
handicaps. Mark was making every putt he looked at. Jon -- Mr10 -- who
was claiming that he couldn't even play to a 15, started
bogey-par-birdie. BTW, we averaged par for our foursome over the third
hole. This is a 200-yard par-3, with water front and left. Jon and I
hit the green, Mark got up-and-down, and Roger (who probably doesn't
have a club with a reliable 200-yard carry) played it perfectly as a
par-4. So we got 2-3-3-4.
Unfortunately, Jon and Mark couldn't stay consistent the whole round,
and their handicap stories remained intact.
The funkiest holes were the three on the clubhouse side of the road.
Funky perhaps, but with genuine beauty and character.
The walk from the ninth green to the tenth tee is a real hike. First, a
healthy climb up the
hill; did you notice that 7, 8, and 9 were all downhill holes? What
goes down must come up. Then, around a duck pond. We were warned the
pond was guarded by a
very territorial duck with a mohawk. We were not misled. He came after
us, but we skirted the pond quickly enough that there was no close
encounter. And yes, he did have a mohawk.
Then, across the road. We got there, but no Jon. His lone head start
him lost, and we waited for him for about ten minutes before we saw him
near the clubhouse -- walking the wrong way. Yelling didn't help, so
Mark took off to retrieve him. By the time he joined us, twenty minutes
had passed since we arrived on the tee.
- The seventh is a long par-4, but steeply downhill. A good tee
shot with a draw leaves you on a plateau looking down on the green,
with 150-160 to go. Don't miss the green long or left, or you'll be in
a swiftly-flowing stream.
- The eighth claims to be 90 yards. Club and swing selection is
very tricky here. Jon almost didn't make the green. The rest of us flew
the green with what we thought to be good shots for the distance. "Flew
the green" is synonymous with "wet"; the same stream flows behind this
- The ninth is a short, downhill par-4, with a pond down the left
side of the fairway, and also fronting the green -- short but
demanding. The distance book advice is
a 170-yard tee shot. Too far left and you're wet. Too far right and
your second shot is blocked by a big tree. The four of us picked
different ways to attack the hole -- with varying degrees of success:
- I played it as designed. My tee shot was on the fairway, left
of the 100-yard mark. (Age and experience seemed to
dictate this; Roger's ball was just a few feet from mine.) I hit my
club to the middle of the green and 2-putted for par.
- As I noted, Roger also hit a textbook tee shot. His aproach was
about 6 inches from being perfect. But it hit the top of the rock wall
in front of the green and ricocheted into deep rough right front. He
had a bit of an adventure from there. I don't know his final number,
but it was larger than his first two shots deserved.
- Mark pulled his tee shot badly. But it was short enough that he
found it, just behind the pond. He laid up nicely to the end of the
fairway. His half-wedge across the pond clanked off the flagstick,
leaving him six feet for par. Did I say he was making every putt he
looked at? Yes, I think I did. Nice par!
- Jon not only pulled his tee shot; he hooked it, too. He took a
the pond, and began a major odyssey. In his own words, "I had a really
good lie on my first drop, so I went for the green with a 7 wood and
topped it back into the pond. The second drop was a bad lie, so I
tried to chip out up to where everyone else was, and hit the one branch
sticking out of the tree, and it popped back in. Three drowned
balls. Finally chipped back out to about 80 yards, and hit it a
little fat, just a yard short, bounced off the top of the rocks into
the heavy stuff up to the right of the green. It was really
unplayable at that point when Mark found it (what a ball hound), and I
took a swack at it for the heck of it, then gave up." Jon was in double
the hole, so he surrendered and got a head start on our group to the
As we were about to embark on the back nine, we noticed Coops taking
off in the same wrong direction as Jon had. Coops' business finished,
was going to walk the whole course -- starting with the front nine --
to find us. I don't remember what short-circuited this process, but he
did catch us on the eleventh tee. We played as a fivesome from there.
It took us a long time; we weren't off the eighteenth until almost
Memorable moments from the back nine:
We ate at Bube's Brewery in Mount Joy, then repaired to Coops' house
where Mark, Roger, and I would be staying. Jon had left the restaurant
for his home,
about an hour and a half away, after a few weird phone calls. Coops'
living room became a dormitory, with sofa-bed and sofa occupied, as
well as an air mattress on the floor. I had roomed with Mark on
previous trips, so I know he snores. He sets a steady rhythm, so it's
easy to get used to and sleep through -- sorta' like white noise. What
I didn't know was that Mark and Roger snore in sync and in harmony.
Must be in the genes.
- The fourteenth hole is 335 yards and downhill. We had four of
in the fairway. We had five second shots on the green. All of us parred
hole, with a couple of near-birdies. These guys are
- The fifteenth is definitely funky, a sharp dogleg par-5 with a
blind second shot. I had no idea where to hit nor how far, so I asked
Coops -- the only one who had every played the course before. He said,
"160 to 170 yards just left of that tree." Not knowing any better, I
pulled my 165-yard club and put it "just left of that tree." At that
moment, I knew the value of playing with a caddie. My head wasn't
filled with any what-ifs, just the simple objective of this shot, "160
yards just left of that tree." Without the mental clutter, I had no
trouble making the shot. As it turned out, that was the only second
shot among us to be on the fairway.
- We played the last three holes in very dim light; in fact, the
last hole was in darkness. Even so, the five of us lost not one ball in
that stretch. Amazing!
- The eighteenth is a long (435-yard) par-4 over a hill. Mark hit a
good drive. His second shot was blind, partly from distance, partly
from the crest of the hill, and mostly due to darkness. So he trusted
the yardage marker, aimed where he thought the green was, and fired
away. When we got there, his ball was just a couple of feet from the
hole. Nice birdie! BTW, I butchered that hole badly, but made a long
chip-in to save a bogey.
Saturday was the big day at Dauphin Highlands. Tournament round in the
morning, and Match Play Madness® in the afternoon. That in itself
was a tribute to flexible plans. Originally on the schedule was a
practice round in the AM and the tournament in the PM. But that was
changed a couple of days before in an email discussion.
Brother Bill (the golfer formerly known as BillPA) was not aware of the
change, and spent the early part of the morning round goofing as much
as golfing. When informed that this was in fact the tournament, he
protested to the committee. At the lunch break he asked "the committee"
whether his protest had been accepted or rejected. The reply was, "Not
I played the tournament round with Coops and David Hayes. The three of
us were in the zone for several holes on the front nine; for a stretch
of four holes, we were collectively one under par. That's gross, not
net. Allowing for a few missed birdie opportunities, it could have been
even better. For instance, David reached the par-5 fifth hole in two
shots, his 3-wood skittering across the green and coming to rest in the
back fringe maybe 20 feet from the hole. Alas, that birdie was not to
On the twelfth hole, I had a television experience. My second shot on
the par-5 came to rest in a planting that camouflaged an electrical
found only one position that I could even get a swinging club on the
ball, and that was standing on one side of the box and reaching over it
to the ball on the other side. Fortunately, a USGA rules official came
over and reminded me that I was entitled to relief from the electrical
box, since it was an immovable obstruction. Really! It
actually happened! Well, I guess most of you know by now that
David changed jobs last year, and he now works for the USGA
rules mostly for local tournaments.
I wish I could say that saved the hole for me. It did take me from a
nearly unplayable shot to a makeable 7-iron over tall trees to the
green. I got over the trees all right, but wound up in the greenside
bunker. Took me four more to get down from there for a double bogey
(including two very good shots -- plus one absolute disaster).
Bottom line: Thor was the RSG-Hershey champion for 2004, with a net 68.
He played very well, apparently motivated by a side bet. He had a beer
match with Brother Bill, and you only make Thor play
better when you bet him a beer. Second place was everybody in my
threesome; we all shot net 70.
After lunch we proceeded with MPM®. Coops and Thor chose up sides.
Thor immediately picked the team name "The Brotherhood", in honor of
Bill. Coops' team eventually came up with "Hop Devils". They insist it
is a pale ale, but a Google search turned up a mythical creature which
was a much more relevant reference for a golf team. The reference
includes the sentence, "Dull-witted and mischievous, these little
bundles of joy are known to destroy entire fields..." I would say
that did indeed characterize their play. (Disclaimer: I was a member of
The afternoon round was the fun round!
I stopped at the car at lunch time and put my camera in the golf bag.
Sorry, but that round was the only one I had the camera, so not many
pix this time.
I had noticed that the high rough -- the "friendly
gorse", as the recent Scottish travelers called it -- had been planted
with a scattering of very colorful flowers. (I thought at first they
were wildflowers, but later became convinced they were seeded.) Here
are a few pictures of the strips of flowers that alternated with the
I was playing MrJFB. But that only lasted the first nine holes. He was
pained by his ankle, and by the feeling that a 22 handicap had no
chance against a 14. He is inexperienced in match play, and especially
MPM®, so he has never experienced the "anything can happen" aspect
game. In fact, he was one up on me for a while early in the round.
Anyway, he left after nine to get an early start on his drive to New
York. Since I was into the spirit of MPM® by now, I decided to
finish the match somehow. Instead of playing MrJFB, I played against
MrMBG -- Mythical Bogey Golfer. If I got a bogey, the hole was halved.
If I did par or better, I won the hole, and double bogey or worse gave
the hole to MrMBG. Since my course handicap at Dauphin was 16, playing
against bogey made quite a bit of sense.
Interesting irony. I went back and looked at how I would have done on
the front nine against bogey. For all MrJFB's complaining about "no
chance", he did better against me than MrMBG would have. The front
nine, I was three up against MrJFB, but would have been four up against
MrMBG. I was
just playing well Saturday. My 86 in the morning and 84 in the
afternoon were my best scores yet at Dauphin. A couple of notes on that:
A few incidents that would not have even happened if we were playing
golf instead of MPM®:
- Thor, I was not keeping score during MPM®. Honest!
I went back that
night and figured it out from memory.
- After the match was decided, I allowed myself a
drop from a lake. I would not have had a stroke score for the round
- MrJFB won two holes from me out of the nine we played. He won
them with pars. He was playing better than he thought. The holes that
he lost were disasters from a stroke play point of view -- but in
MPM® he would
have gotten almost the same result if he had bogeys on those holes; I
most of them with pars. And the halves were bogeys.
- Jon Green had a lie that
would normally grant relief from the cartpath. He was lucky the ball
wasn't a few inches further right. And not shown in the picture is a
bench, water cooler, and tree trunk, all narrowing the margin of error
for the shot..
- I hit a perfect drive to the
middle of the fairway. It not only landed in a divot, but the material
from the divot had been left there, hanging by dead grass roots. I had
to play it.
My own fondest memories of the day were my two birdies at long, hard
par-3 holes that I have seldom even parred in the past:
- As Jon Green already mentioned in his writeup, he had a few
would have been legitimate golf but were MPM® penalties. Together,
they cost him the match. Things like picking up a leaf in the way of
his putt, and marking the ball on the putting green. (Hey, I've
done that before, and it cost me the
match. No sympathy.)
- Eighth hole, morning round. It is 190-yards across a deep ravine
for a net uphill. I hit a really good 7-wood to about ten feet, and
made the putt.
- Fifteenth hole, afternoon round. The hole fits a similar
description, but about 170 yards and the ravine is filled with pond. I
hit a 4-iron that felt great and looked great in the air, but I lost it
as it was landing. Our other group (Thor, David, and Bill) had stuck
around to watch. After some seconds, I heard applause. When I got up to
the green, my ball was less than a foot from the hole. I felt good
because the tap-in birdie closed out my match. But Brother Bill showed
me the cloud behind the silver lining; "It was that far from being a
hole in one."
|At Gilligan's, over dinner and
beer, last year's winner (Mark Georg) presented the trophy to Thor.
|We knew Mark was reluctant to
part with the trophy, but his better nature eventually prevailed.
|And, of course, we had to get
our Gilligan's waitress Shannon into the ceremony.
Sunday was Sunset! As somebody in the group (probably Thor) remarked,
"They have everything going on here." It's an interesting course, to
say the least:
I played with Mark and Thor. It's always a great day out on the golf
course with those guys. None of us was playing very well, but we were
thoroughly enjoying ourselves anyway. The game of the day was skins,
across both our threesomes. We were all playing so badly that almost
every par won a skin. (Believe it or not, that's only a slight
exaggeration. For the first six holes, there were only four pars among
the six of us and two of them were skins.)
- It's on a bluff overlooking the infamous Three Mile Island
nuclear power plant. In fact the eleventh hole is just about in the
shadow of one of the cooling stacks.
- The landing glide path for Harrisburg International Airport
bisects the course. Every here and there (starting will the rise behind
the first tee) you will see a pole with a flashing beacon on it. No, it
is not an aiming point -- at least not for the golfers.
- Between the front nine and the back nine is a true cliff. You
play down the cliff on number ten, and climb back up it after number
Unfortunately, I twisted my ankle (making a very good 6-iron shot, I
might add) on
the twelfth hole. I took one more full swing, the drive on thirteen,
and knew I had to quit. I was lucky -- or perhaps smart -- to quit
before the damage became more severe; I still had that walk up the
hill, from the lowest point on the course. It was fifteen or twenty
minutes of pure aerobic exercise, but I made it. Iced the ankle while I
had lunch, then took off for home. Once again, flexible planning in
After I left, the remaining five RSGers bowed to the obvious slowness
of the course (the round took over five hours). They combined into a
fivesome. Even with five, they had to wait on every tee.
Coops, thanks again for everything: arranging the event, putting me up,
and putting up with me.
See y'all in Ohio!