Tutelman - 9/14/2004
Well, it's September again, and that means RSG-Ohio. This had to be one
of the best ever. No, I didn't play very well -- horribly, in fact --
but it was a great weekend anyway. Why? Well, Thor did his homework at least as well as usual, meaning:
The "great weather" that Thor found for us included sunshine all days
with warm but not oppressively hot temperatures -- and almost no
mosquitos this time!
- We played a great bunch of courses.
- We had a great crowd of people.
- And, of course, we had great weather.
(The pictures below are "thumbnails". Click on them and you open the
Friday Morning - Split Rock
The day started in fog. Thick, pea-soup fog. Fog that made it dangerous
to drive, and nearly impossible to find the golf course. Split Rock, if
it had a sign at all at the entrance, had too small and inconspicuous
a sign to see. We (Coops and I) passed it without knowing, and had to
find it on the way back. Apparently a couple of other RSGers were
following us. We were surprised to see other cars making U-turns when
we decided to.
The practice green Friday morning is always a madhouse of old
friends greeting each other. In the fog, you had to get up close to see
who it was, though.
Just kidding; the fog was thick, but not that thick. But it was thick
enough that it was hard to see where to hit the ball on the first tee,
much less watch the ball flight itself. The 150-yard "barber pole" only
200 yards from the tee was barely visible if you looked hard. So
after finding the course by driving in the fog, we continued by driving
in the fog.
I played with Coops, Brent Hutto, and Jon Green. We were all trying to
find our game at the beginning. Some found it sooner and better than
- Jon started badly, but caught fire early. He was five over after
three holes -- but only another five over for the rest of the round.
Once he figured out how to make a par, he became a virtual par machine.
He was often in trouble with his tee shot, but good approach shots and
putting saved him often. And when his drive was straight, a par was
guaranteed. (I think he also had at least one birdie.)
- Brent's game came and went, but he finished strong. He parred the
long (555-yard) eighteenth, keeping the ball up the middle of the
fairway, and as long as planned on each shot. At the end, he needed a
four-foot putt for the par and -- as Jon reminded him -- to save his
partner in the beer match. Dead center!
- I had a pretty bad day overall, punctuated by a few good holes
and good shots. I even had a vintage Scottish shot. On #17, I was in
the fairway about 20 yards from the green after my approach came up
short. The green was on a raised ledge about 2-3 feet above the
fairway, and the pin was extreme front so a high pitch was not
likely to be close -- and not even likely to be on if it came up short.
I hit a knock-down 7 iron that landed 5-10 yards from the green,
scooted along the ground and up the slope, and limped the last 10 feet
or so, stopping less than 2 feet from the hole. Yes, I made the par
Friday Afternoon - Foxfire
was our first taste of the Foxfire course, but it wouldn't be our
last. We were scheduled to play Match Play Madness here Saturday
afternoon. I played in one of the later groups, with Mark Georg, Terry
Easton, and Joe Conte. Again, there was lots of greeting going on in
the first tee area; the clan was still gathering. Those "pesky
Canadians", Patrick Inglis and David Sneddon, arrived -- and Patrick
immediately set up shop as the event's videographer. He was wandering
around with what looked like an ordinary digital camera, but that red
light on the front was constantly on. See his video of the event at http://www.parabolicgolf.com/2004_rsg-oh.htm;
it's great! He also did get to play golf, as the picture on the left
The Foxfire course is a pretty challenging course, unless you compare
it to its sister course in the Foxfire complex. There is some water,
lots of trees and OB, and an unreal challenge for your second or third
shot on #16. More about that later.
This was my best round of the weekend. I'm used to breaking 90
routinely at home, but my 87 here was the only sub-90 round of my Ohio
2004. I managed this even finishing double-double-double. It helps
to have only 30 putts for the round.
Our group did really well on #8 and #9. On eight, Joe led off with a
drive in the right rough near the fairway bunker. He would never have
guessed that the rest of us would be well right of him, almost 200
yards from the green, and some of us with tree trouble. Even so, I
think we all managed pars from there. And we were three for four pars
on the par-3 over water ninth.
The back nine is a lot tougher than the front. The par-4s are longer,
and a couple have water to avoid. In fact, those two are water right
left. And #12, though not wet nor OB, is over 450 yards from the whites.
Then there is #16. It is a par-5 with a fairly conventional drive, but
a huge tree immediately between the landing area and the green. You can
lay up left of the tree and hit 130-150 yards on the third shot. But
the layup is no piece of cake; the fairway is narrow at that point and
hazards abound if you miss (OB, ball-losing tall rough, and lots of
water. Or you can hit out to the right of the tree. If you keep it on
the hillside there, you can have a short shot in (100 yards or so). But
you have to clear some water to get there; it's not an easy shot
either. I think one of us (don't remember who) got a par there, but we
had some big numbers. My own double-bogey started innocently enough.
Drive just missed the fairway (actually a good drive through the fairway), causing me
to lay up near the 150 pole. As I said, it gets narrow there, and I
just leaked a foot into the wiry rough on the left -- but exactly at
150. The ball was sitting up nicely, and I had a good look at the
green. I hit a nice full 7-iron, which will normally fly 150 for me.
But this was a real flyer lie, and I airmailed the green altogether.
Now I had a pitch from rough, over a mound, to a green running away. I
hit four pretty good shots from there, but "pretty good" wasn't enough
to get it into the hole.
The eighteenth is an adventure. An iron or fairway wood avoids running
out of fairway, which gets narrower and narrower between the woods on
the left and an elevated pond on the right. If you put it towards the
end of the fairway, you have a short iron straight uphill (over the end
of the pond) to an elevated, sloping, bunkered green. Mark might have
had the biggest adventure of all. He hit a perfect tee shot, leaving
him about 115 uphill yards to the green. The pond claimed it. He
dropped again, and almost piped his second shot; the ball mark was
right next to the
cup. Hell of a shot!
The group convened for dinner at Casa Fiesta, where we were joined by
some non-playing family. Steve Stemmer's and John Pflum's wife and
daughter were around all weekend, but only joined us for dinners.
Actually, Amy and Jeanie Pflum have been regulars at RSG-Ohio
for years, but they have company now.
Saturday - Foxfire Players Course and Foxfire Course
Saturday, of course, is the tournament round -- The Main Event(TM)! This was at The
Players Club at the Foxfire complex. The Players Club is an extremely
hard course; it eats my lunch every time I play there (well, all three
times). I remember every corner of that course -- probably because I've
had to play a ball from every corner of that course.
I played in a fun group: Hudson McVay, Bill Hogsett, and MrJFB. Once is
was clear to us that none of us had a prayer in the tournament, we
relaxed and enjoyed it. Not that we played any better that way, but it
was a beautiful day on a beautiful golf course; what could be bad? (Or,
as Peter Strauss reminds us, "Hey, I'm still on the same side of the
grass as the ball.") Gotta keep perspective here.
If I was struggling to find my swing Friday at Split Rock, that was
just a struggle. But trying to find your swing on a course like Players
is a major disaster. It is hard to do justice to the manner in which
the golf course abused us. Just a few examples:
The Foxfire complex has a good lunch counter in the clubhouse -- great
barbeque sandwiches and a variety of beer -- so we had lunch there
while the long list of awards were announced. Of course there was the
RSG-Ohio Champion, winner of the Coffeemaker Trophy and the Maroon
Jacket; that honor went to Neal Bell for the second time. The Premier
Golfer (low gross score) was Brad Swanson, who made it by a single
stroke after pitching in from 40 yards on the 18th hole. The Women's
Champion was Enid Redman.
- I had a "birdie-bogey" on #4. It is so narrow (woods on both
sides) that it has a major "pucker factor". I yanked my drive into the
woods on the left. It was gone! My re-tee was right down the
middle and long, then a 7-iron to three feet, and I made the putt.
Birdie on the second ball, but bogey on the card. BTW, JB got a real birdie on that hole. Not many
of those around Saturday morning.
- The sixth is a short par-4 that doglegs right around a lake. The
drive does not have to be long to give you a middle to short iron to
the green; you can hit the fairway with a long iron or 5-wood and do it
fine. But there is noplace to bail. A little right is in the water. A
little left is in the mounds, and even more left is lost in the
long grass across the cart path. (Don't even think of looking for it there.)
That was the hole where I got my twelve. Yes, a 12. I started by
yanking two into the tall grass off the tee. So when I finally put a
tee shot in the fairway, just a 9-iron from the green, I was already
lying 5. Well, it had to be a good 9-iron.
My first two weren't good enough to avoid a splash. (The second try was
almost good enough. When I got to the green, I found it in the water
just a foot
short of land. But "almost" doesn't work in golf.) Then I made a good
two-putt from nearly a different zip code. That's a neat par... plus
eight strokes worth of stroke-and-distance.
- I thought that would at least qualify for some kind of "worst
hole of the tournament" award. But there were other twelves, and one
person did appreciably worse. Jon Green got an 18 on the par-5 eighth
hole. According to reliable witnesses, he did a very convincing
impression of Tin Cup, dropping ball after ball a short iron from the
green and hitting it right into the lake (and at least one into a
backyard on the other side of the lake).
- As we got to the eleventh, I said to Bill and JB, who had never
played here, "This is an insane hole." Bill asked me if I meant
insane-hard or just insane. I said, "Yes." It is a 165-yard par-3 over
water. The green is very wide and very shallow, with a saddle in the
middle. That means it is really hard to put your ball on the green. At
165 yards, most of us need too much club to hit the very shallow green
and stop it, and you can't run it up to the green because it is fronted
by a lake.
If you go over you are either in sand or over some mounds; and either
way, you are hitting back toward the lake across a very shallow green.
I drowned a ball, bounced my drop off the green and into the bunker,
and slunk away with a hard-fought triple-bogey.
As I said, the green is also very wide, with a saddle separating the
left and right halves. We congratulated Hudson on a great tee shot that
and stuck on the left side of the green. But the flag was on the right
side. Hudson glumly said, "That's OK, I can four-putt from there." He
- It was really easy to lose balls on the course, with all the
water and woods. But when I went looking for the many balls I put in
said water and woods, I tended to find balls -- usually not the one I
lost. I decided it was a nice day for fishing, and was fairly
successful at it. That was significant, because early in the round I
decided it was foolish to play any more Pro-V1s, and reverted to a
small collection of mixed balls I was carrying. I was afraid of
running out; but, with the successful fishing, I spent most of the
morning losing found balls.
In addition, there were loads of individual-hole prizes. We had the
usual long drive on the par-5s, closest to the pin on par-3s, and a few
longest putt made on large greens. But we also had some unique awards,
After lunch, we went out to the tenth tee at the Foxfire course. Thor
had convinced them to let us play the back nine for Match Play Madness;
that was great; it is more challenging than the front nine, with more
opportunity for "MPM moments".
- Shortest putt missed. On #1, this was about 14 inches of putt.
- Closest drive to the fairway bunker without being in it.
- Most balls in the lake on #6. (I thought I had a good chance with
two, but Gayle "Scuba" Stultz beat me.)
- Most strokes to get to the green (without penalty strokes) on the
difficult uphill par-4 16th. The "winner" needed 10 shots to get there.
The tee at MPM has been described as "beautiful chaos", as matches are
arranged, foursomes are put together, all with players teeing off. Here
are a few pictures to give the flavor of the MPM tee.
Here's the "beautiful chaos" that we mentioned.
Patrick arrived at the tee decked out in early-1900s golfing attire.
Very elegant! Oh yes, he played dressed that way, too.
Scott Newell tees off at the tenth hole. You think that looks narrow in
Try it from the tee with a club in your hand.
Tex tees off, momentarily suspending the beautiful chaos.
Gayle Stultz awaits her turn on the tee.
Pflagstick (John Pflum) tees off.
My own MPM group was a bit unusual, mostly because it was a fivesome.
We went last, on the assumption that a fivesome would be
slow. That decision was wise beyond words. We took more than two and a
half hours for the nine holes. Why a fivesome? Well, we had an odd
number of players in the afternoon. (Before anybody else says it, yes
we had a number of odd players, too.) Jon Green agreed to play MPM
against the better ball of Alan Charbonneau and Chris Dossman, a couple
of novice golfers. Chris had the additional disadvantage that the
terrible sixth hole in the morning had started him on the beer, and he
had never stopped. (Or maybe that was an advantage. Don't know.)
I played my traditional MPM match with Pete Hope. I had won the first
one back in antiquity, but Pete has beaten me every time since. Pete
finished me off pretty quickly this time. We halved the holes where I
was able to keep my tee shot out of trouble. But Pete won two holes
where my tee shot was dead, and another two where I had to punch out
sideways and played the rest of the hole a stroke behind him the whole
way. Probably just as well our match was uninteresting; it allowed us
to enjoy watching the other match -- which was, frankly, hilarious. A
few of the high points:
The highlight of the Saturday night dinner is usually the storytelling
contest. This year, almost everybody offered a story. A few of the
things I remember about it:
- On the first hole, with my ball in the woods and Pete in the
fairway beyond any troubles, I said, "Pete, pick it up." Chris, Pete's
Ohio teammate, had no idea why I was conceding the hole, or even that I was. He was convinced I was
trying somehow to cheat the Ohio team, and he wasn't having any of it.
So I called
him over (he, like me, was out of the hole at this point) and reviewed
match play, when to concede holes, and how Match Play Madness changes the strategy. We
had a wait on the next tee, so I asked
Chris, "OK, anything else you need to know about concession?" I got a
blank look, and we had an unproductive discussion before it came out
that he thought "concession" referred to the refreshment cart.
encountered a true MPM lie. His tee shot on the par-3 eleventh hole
mysteriously stopped short of the bunker. When we got there, we found
out why. (See picture.) It cost Jon a shot to extricate the ball from
- On another par-3, Pete hit the green and had a long wait for the
rest of us. By the time all five of us were on the green, our lies were
a winning poker hand: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
- Jon had a "brain fart" (his description) on one hole, where he
fixed a ball mark in the line of his putt. That's allowed in golf, but
Match Play Madness and it costs you the hole. Jon called the penalty
on himself, then spent some time explaining to his opponents what had
happened and why. Jon had been way ahead on the hole, and would have
easily. By this time, Alan and Chris were into the spirit of the
competition, and argued long and hard for Jon to stay in the hole; they
didn't want to win it that way.
- By the sixteenth hole, Pete and I were done; we hit a few shots
for "exercise", but picked up well before the green. The other match
halved the hole with all three golfers losing balls before reaching the
green. By this time, we were so far behind that Thor and Brad drove out
(yes, Thor in a golf cart) to
find out what was keeping us. We had been playing very slowly. I think
the five-minute searches for the three balls on #16 were conducted
purely sequentially. One of the things that made the search take so
long was that Pete had hit a nice second shot, and his ball was plainly
visible up on the hill. Two of the golfers in the other match saw it
there and said, with misplaced optimism, "Oh, that must be me." Neither
was close to that, but we had to get there to find out. Ugh!
- I've heard it said that Jon overanalyzes things, and doesn't
think positively. Here's a data
point for that discussion. Remember #18 at Foxfire, the short par-4
with the approach shot uphill over a lake? Jon comes into that hole
dormie: one up with one to play. He is lying two at the end of the
fairway, with just a corner of the lake to cross. He asks me (as his
World teammate), "What do you think it is to the hole, maybe 70 yards?"
I reply, "What does it matter how far it is? What matters is you are
lying two, one of your opponents is lying six and not on the green yet,
and the other is wet. Just hit the ball." So Jon pulls out a club,
walks to the top of the ridge to look, looks around for a yardage
marker, walks back, changes clubs... and
drop-kicks the ball into the pond, halving the match. Jon, don't
think so much! You're icing yourself.
- As has happened quite a few times, John Pflum won. I don't
remember what the story was about, but his dramatic rendition carried
- Kenny Stultz told about how he and Gayle were running out of golf
balls in the tournament round. (Easy to do at Players. And remember
that "Scuba" Stultz won the most-drowned-balls prize.) Gayle urged
Kenny to start fishing balls out of the ponds because they were going
to need them. Her justification: "Hey, we're entitled. I've
- Wait, we're not done with Kenny and Gayle. Thor told a story
about asking Kenny who he wanted a chance to play with over the
weekend. Kenny said that Gayle is usually happier when they play
together, so they should be paired. Thor asked if that was all he
wanted to specify about pairings, and got the reply, "If Gayle is
happy, then I'm happy."
- Chris had had a few more drinks since MPM ended, and was feeling
no pain whatsoever. He got up after a series of fairly long stories and
told his own. It was even longer, and sufficiently rambling that nobody
understood it. The story finished when he decided it did, and he sat
down. Joe Conte attempted to change the pace of play; he got up and
started with, "Well, I've got a short one..." and never got any further
than that. He was hooted back into his seat, and got kidded about his
"short one" for the rest of the evening.
- That was typical of the (beer-fueled? adolescent?) audience
reaction on Saturday. At lunch, Brad Swanson announced the results of
the tournament round skins pool, "There are four skins." Mayhem ensued.
Sunday - Phoenix Links
The farewell round was played on what the locals call "Stinky Links".
Phoenix Links is built on a trash landfill on the southern edge of
Columbus. The nickname comes from the pervasive smell of garbage and
methane when the course first opened. The actual name seems a stroke of
genius: rising from the ashes and all that. (Note that "stinky" is no
longer a problem, but the catchy nickname seems to have stuck.)
The course itself is a large mound between I-71 on one side and a
quarry on the other. The whole ambience was -- well -- different!
- If you've seen urban-edge landfills before, you can imagine the
from the parking lot to the first tee. It was every bit of what you're
few hundred yards, we would encounter a small fenced-in area like the
one in the picture (right).
From a distance, it looked like a normal maintenance area, maybe a
sprinkler control or a tractor corral. When you got closer, you saw the
signs that said, "Danger - Flammable Gas". Closer still, and you saw
large pipes sticking out of the ground, capped with valves. My guess is
that the methane still builds up under the course. At night, when no
golfers are on the course, they open the valves and release the
pressure. Maybe they even do a "burn-off", making it look at night like
the refineries off the New Jersey Turnpike.
- It was definitely links style. Except for the last two holes on
the edge of the course, there were no trees to be seen. On the practice
tee, Brent described the landscape as "a target-poor environment".
- The holes on the west side of the course move along the busy
Interstate 71. Even if you ignore the view, it's hard to escape the
constant road noise.
- The holes on the east side have an overview of a large quarry,
with plenty of heavy equipment. David Hayes was musing about "driving
to the mall and trying to park" a huge crane on huge tires. Finding a
parking space at the mall might be challenging, but first you'd have to
find a road wide enough to accommodate it; it was square, and about an
18-wheeler's length on each
- The skyline of Columbus was easily seen from the higher holes on
the course. Here are a few pictures to give you the feeling...
Steve Stemmer drives the ball towards Columbus, as Thor and David Hayes
watch.. The quarry on the right is a fairly busy working quarry.
Thor putting. You can see how the Columbus skyline dominates the
Once you get past the obvious differences, the course itself is very
playable. It makes the most of the elevation changes, and is a
challenging but very fair design. The fairways are generous and in good
condition, but you have to know where to hit it in the fairways to get
the most out of the hole. The greens would have been better if they
hadn't been recently aerated, but they were still eminently puttable.
(Some may disagree, but others were making a lot of putts. I think Tex
one-putted the last seven greens; anyway, that's what the legend is up
I really enjoyed Phoenix Links. Of course, I grew up in the South
Bronx, so the urban hustle and bustle is like home to me. Steve
Stemmer, another New York City boy, said he preferred the west side of
the course with the road noise. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing
Phoenix on the venue again.
I played with Steve, David Hayes, and Thor. That was a really fun
group; we have to do it again next year. Steve had a career round,
shooting a one-over 73. He had matches going against David Hayes and
Thor, and won them easily. He also had his first-ever eagle, a pitch-in
from behind the greenside bunker on #8. Having gotten a taste, he
wanted more. Later in the round, he just missed a chip-in eagle and
lipped out an eagle putt. He had three birdies in addition to the
eagle, helping him go so low.
I had a decent round myself. My ball striking was the best of the
weekend. I had a 42 on the front nine (not as good on the back), aided
by a birdie on the short par-4 seventh. I hit a 3-wood off the tee, and
was so close to the 100-yard marker that I had to take relief from it.
I trust my 100-yard club a lot, and put the shot 8 feet from the hole
-- then made the putt. I think my best shot of the weekend was a 6-iron
from 155 straight uphill (from another fairway) on the thirteenth hole.
Perfect line, perfect trajectory, hit the small green and finished on
The last two holes are sort of out of character with the rest of the
course. For one thing, they have trees. For another, there are water
hazards. #17 is a medium-length par-3 to a very narrow green with lots
of elevation change and water front and left. #18 is a short par-4 with
a tee shot that must carry a pond and stop short of a stream. The
fairway is very generous, but all the trouble is visually intimidating
and a lot of us missed the fairway.
As usual, the early groups waited behind the 18th green for the rest to
finish. Being in the second group, I got to watch a lot of exciting
finishes. Maybe the best was Tex, who got up and down from the long
weeds right of the green. You've seen rough where you couldn't see the
golfer's shoes; well, we couldn't see Mark's legs below his shorts. But
he ripped it out and onto the green, then made the 25-foot putt -- to
complete a round of two-under-par 70.
Early finishers wait behind the 18th green for the rest. L to R: David
Hayes, Thor, Steve Stemmer, Mark Phillips, and Coops
What does Coops have in the range-ball bucket? Doesn't look like golf
balls. He must've taken Tex's range bucket.
While we waited, David showed us how to use a golf cart as a beer
opener. A bit violent perhaps, but when you forgot your bottle-opener
and none of the bottles are twist-top...
It's a long walk to the parking lot, with a big climb up and down. We
said our goodbyes on the walk and more in the parking lot. Can't wait
for next year. Great