RSG-Ohio 2011

Warren Montgomery  --  9/13/2011

Posted  9/13/2011

Summary: Great company, not sure about the golf -- I don't think I played any and I'm not sure anyone else did either :-)

I was tempted to post that same picture I took in Cincinatti (Wet Area), particularly since my camera, sadly, didn't make it to Cowlumbus. What is it about Ohio this year? I thought we had some soggy conditions here, but we ain't got nothing like that.

How wet was it? Well Thor allowed "lift, clean and cheat" for the tournament round, because otherwise many lies in the fairway at Clover Valley would have been unplayable by any normal definition. Even with that only 3 players broke 100 (and maybe 1/3 of the field withrdrew in disgust after a double digit hole before realizing everyone else was hitting the same blowups.) Only 1 Birdie was recorded during the tunamint round.

Thor did work his magic well though in keeping the rain at bay the whole weekend. (The fact that many of us hauled all our rain gear might have helped too.)

Arriving at Chapel Hill Friday we saw a lot of of familiar faces and met some new ones. One big disappointment -- no Tex. Really unfortunate. We all missed him. Thor arranged for a freind to sub, and he completed my morning foursome (with Thor and Dave Tutelman). Something seemed familiar about Jerry when we were introduced, and about half way down the first fairway I realized -- hey, we are an All Lucent/ATT group! Jerry worked there longer than I did, and yeah, we probably met a couple of times, over the years.

The course was surprisingly "moist". (I guess I didn't notice how much of that tropical shit washed up in Ohio, the news was too busy showing floods in other states). That meant an otherwise reasonable length course played at least 500 yards longer. What really got me though was the greens -- just spooky. Anything that got to the hole rolled 5 feet past, and usually took a 3 foot break I didn't read somewhere along the way. I didn't play badly for a course I had never seen before. I think I could really like that course except for 3 holes (7, 9, and 18) -- all long par 4's with a lake in front of the green. That by itself isn't enough reason to dislike them, but the fact that none had a reasonable area to lay up in that didn't leave you on a sloping lie. My highlight for that day came on the second round played with Jon Green and Paul, when on the 16th hole after a long string of 3 putt bogies (and worse), I came up short on my approach to the 16th green I have to admit I hit the chip thin too, but exactly in the right direction and it dropped. What's that about blind squirrels and acorns?

The BBQ at Thor's was great, once we found it. We were one of the early arrivals, and while I followed the directions exactly they gave no house number. I expected some clue at the driveway, but I didn't expect it to be a little sign saying "BJ's Bobcat repair". Fortunately he did give me a phone number. Many wings, brisket, and pulled pork bits were consumed, washed down with a lot of home brew (and local brews brought in growlers.)

After Thor had been talking about how well Clover Valley drained I had been expecting a drier experience. What we found was half dead soggy bent grass that had been plugged and probably not mowed since. It's a beautiful layout -- I must play it some time when it's actually playable :-) I played the Tunamint round with Bill O, Chuck, and Jon. After a few holes where Bill and I are basically playing bogie golf we were joking about that probably being good enough given the conditions. I had a par or two, but also holes like 4, where I laid up twice (first one mis-hit) to avoid a "creek" marked on the card which turned out to be nothing but a row of yellow stakes in the same soggy grass as everywhere else.

Any thought of finishing near 90 for me died on the par 5 9th though where I laid up on my 3rd to play safe, then found myself in a big area of mush. I hit it thin, and it skipped twice on the pond before sinking into the scum. The second one cleared -- and then some up the hill behind the green, and eventually the putt to stay in single digits missed.

Most of us were just slogging it out by the back 9. I watched someone in the group ahead hit at least 2 shots off a tree -- on a 150 yard par 3. I made a bunch of bogies mainly then came to the "closest to pin on any shot" hole, and was just off the green in 2. I thought I could get it inside the marker, and hit a nice one to about a foot. Yes, I though, I'd actually get to write my name on one of those things! Wrong, Chuck hit his to 6 inches, then in the shot of the tournament left his 6 inche putt 2 inches short! It was that kind of day. Several big numbers followed, (my back wasn't real happy for one thing). Then I made a nice effort and got par on 18.

Passing out the skins money was weird. I didn't expect to get any, but I had a few pars on tough holes. In fact, only one Birdie was made by anyone on any hole, and skins were awarded for pars on several holes, including to someone else on 18. Wait a sec there, I had one too. Pflum and Thor went back to stare at it a while and eventually decided Texcel had been hosed (someone managed to break the links between the scorecard and the skins calculations for some of us basically leaving several people's scores out of the calculations, including mine). Eventually I got a few bucks back for a couple of skins on other holes. That was nice, since I got no prizes.

MPM was, well what can you say, it was MPM. I played Bill O, me playing for Ohio. I started well, then 3 putted for bogie to lose the first hole. When Bill, with the Gorse tees, talked us into putting them way up on number 2 I thought I was screwed, especially when he hit a shot that looked like it reached the green. All of us hit good ones there though and guess what, I was in the best position and got up and down to win. After a S*@!nk on the 3rd hole and an MPM chop out of the crap I failed to sink my chip to match Bill's par 3 and went down 1 again. We halved a few holes with good play but somewhere along there I lost another. I had hopes for 6, a par 4 with lots of crap around it that Bill had "fun" with in the morning, but we both put drives in play, then I hit a thin one into a marsh. Maybe it bounced back off the reeds. Bill hits his right of the green into the crap too. We both looked hard, but alas no balls emerged. He closed me out on 7, a long par 5 where he hit about a 320 yarder (courtesy of several bounces off the
cart path), and I was laying up in 3. Decent match. Pflum and Patrick played down to the 9th before deciding it. Carla played Thor and wound up playing a shot having to straddle a bunker rake after Thor said she couldn't move it. Decent shot she said, but she eventually lost the match.

(I can't seem to find a copy of the MPM "rules" at the moment, but it may be worth clarifying what, if anything, you can move to make a shot. I considered asking whether it would be legal for me to remove some of the "crap" interfering with my swing on the 3rd hole since I don't recall a rule that prevented that, but decided it wasn't worth it. If indeed the intent is you can't move anything that might interfere with your shot it's probably worth clarifying, since clearly you can move your opponent's cart, golf bag, foot, etc :-)

Someone decided the "supreme golfer" ought to buy some beer, and Bill cleaned them out of those big Labatts, so we all had a head start on the evening while watching the finish. As the rest of the field played in we got to watch some excitement, when Chris George played up the wrong fairway and into a creek in front of the lake in front of the green. He found it with a few seconds to spare, hacked it out, and nearly won the hole.

Much beer was consumed at Champs (many had the "wastebasket with a handle" size, while I opted for a bunch of 16 ounce "tasters" to explore the microbrew menu), and I suspect even more in the late night session. Many bleary golfers showed up for Sunday's round at Champions.

Champions was in my view at least in the best condition of the courses we played, but still damp. The bent grass fairways were long and soft, and the rough was nasty. It's an older course with tight fairways, lots of trees, and teeny greens surrounded by bunkers. When we started off the middle tees I thought it would be short -- I hadn't noticed it was a par 70 and played like a course 500 yards longer as a result. Playing with Chris and the Champion (Lee Hou), I played the fround 9 okay. That didn't mean great, just mostly bogies and not many more doubles than pars. As I came to the tee on 10 though I could see the back 9 would feature 3 things sure to put me off my game -- lots of waits on tees, not-so-distant thunder, and lots of 400 yard par 4's. I loved watching Chris play these holes off a booming drive (sometimes it even landed in the right fairway :-) About all I can say is I don't think I lost a ball (only my dignity). That's one course I really want a rematch on -- lots of holes where knowing the hole would have made a huge difference (like the short 90 degree dogleg par 4 I screwed up by trying to fade a shot around the corner when in fact the corner is a lot further out than it looks, or the par 5 I laid up on the wrong side of and had no shot to the green).

The round had one funny incident. We did a lot of waiting on the back 9 (some group in front of us that had 2 guys show up late and join them was apparently the culprit). On 16, after waiting a while Chris finally hit one (way right), then Lee went to his bag and said "where's my driver?" We looked around and no driver in sight, nor was it lurking in anyone else's bag. Chris took off to go back to the last tee to look for it while I hit (a weak right side stinker). Lee started to set up with his 3W, then asked if he could borrow my driver. He hit a halfway decent one, a little right but good length. By then the group behind was there with us (yeah, everyone waited a lot), and as Chris and I left the tee someone there asked who left a driver on the bench. Yeah, we waited long enough that everyone forgot that Lee had taken the club out when we reached the tee. Chris returned, played his second from behind the 17th green, while Lee and I played a couple of mediocre shots to the green, and by the time we had all putted out the group ahead had just cleared 17. Yeah, it was SLOW.

18 had the best "gallery" of the weekend gathered around it. The green had a "backstop" behind it and a lot of people tried chipping or putting long and watching it come back. (I should have done it, but had had just enough fun with balls that stuck on the soggy aprons on other holes.)

After Carla came in in the group after me, Carla and I said quick goodbyes and hit the road. I expected the usual jam approaching Chicago, but perhaps we got a small bonus for doing this on September 11th -- less traffic on the roads than usual. Sorry to Rock, Steve, and others in the last group we didn't get to say goodbye to.

Thanks to Thor and all those who contributed food and Drink (I know Neal, Chuck, and Rockpyle did, and Bill and Tex were very generous with the Saturday beers and if I left someone else out, sorry.) It was a great weekend, in spite of the sogginess on the course. I sure hope we can make it again next year (tougher, since we've got 2 tournaments to work in September, but maybe the schedules will work okay)

Posted later on 9/13/2011

On the long drive home and in the 2 days since I've thought a lot about why I suck so badly at these things, especially this year. I came up with a couple of factors, and an observation on handicaps:

1) No bounces into greens. My game isn't target golf. I play a lot of times to land in front of a green and bounce one in, because when you are hitting longer clubs into greens it's the only way to keep it there. On most courses I play that either gets you on or leaves a reasonable up and down. Mostly because of the soggy conditions at RSG-Ohio, nothing was bouncing onto the green. I'd hit what looked like a great shot that would just stop dead, whether it was in the fairway in front of the green or in the rough. Worse yet, instead of the solid and predictable lies I'm used to, I usually wound up either on dead, soggy bent grass (what Carla calls "rip up turf", because you hit a millimeter fat and it rips up a giant beaver pelt that muffles your shot), or burried in rough so long I'd be classifying it as "other" when scoring a USGA championship. That meant almost no up and down pars, the bread and butter of my game.

2) I hate long par 4's, and we had them in bunches. I suspect all the short knockers out there feel the same. Mostly I try to pick tees where most of the par 4's are well under 400 yards, and move up when it's really wet and I know they will play even longer. Par is just a psychological thing I know, and I'd be better off just saying those holes are really 5's and trying to birdie them, but that's tough. I wish I knew why I don't hit the driver as long as I think I should, but I don't, and it's tough to always be hitting my 3 hybrid into greens and mostly knowing I won't make it.

Finally a curious observation on Handicapping. I've noticed over the years of playing RSG events everywhere that more than a few folks come a lot closer to shooting their handicap than I do. I don't think we have any sandbaggers out there, but in hearing people talk about how much or how little golf they play I think there's another phenomenon at work. When we play RSG events, most of us are playing courses we either haven't played before or played last several years ago. Not a recipe for a career round for most of us at least. Often we get less than perfect conditions. (Which for me include "pace of play -- I play very few rounds that take more than 3-1/2 hours except in leagues or RSG events, and those exceptions are painful). Now if you play a lot, all those "bad" rounds on unfamiliar courses in conditions that don't suit your game quickly get wiped out of the handicap history by rounds played on your home course and others where the conditions are more amenable to scoring, but I'll bet there are people here who have their RSG-Cincy rounds on their handicap history still when it comes to play Ohio (heck some probably have last year's RSG-Ohio rounds there too). That means a handicap that more closely reflects how they play under RSG event conditions.

Some folks (e.g. Tex) are good enough it doesn't seem to matter. Walk onto a new course and go out and shoot par. Most of us can't though. Nothing you can do about it, but maybe realizing that will make me a bit less annoyed at playing such awful golf relative to what I know I'm capable of.