RSG-Ohio  2013

Dave Tutelman -- Sept 18, 2013

(Click on thumbnails for full-size pictures)

This writeup includes photos by Thor, Rock, Warren, VanderPflum and me. I'll try to identify the photographer (or at least the owner of the camera) for each picture; it there's no credit noted, I took the picture.

You would think this year might be an anticlimax after last year's Big Honkin' Midsummer RSG-Ohio. But, though the turnout was smaller (two dozen as opposed to nearly forty), a great time was had by one and all.

This time we were playing courses south of the city: Foxfire, Split Rock, and Phoenix Links. The weather forecasts all week said that Thor's special powers would not be seriously challenged, and it worked out that way. It was clear and cold in the early mornings, and just about perfect by 10am and for the rest of the day. Not much wind, either. A great weekend for golf!

Here are a few of the participants, in no particular order nor context:

Jean Claude Vander Pflum
(Thor Collard photo)

Jack "Papa" Pflum
(Thor Collard photo)

Meryl Freeman
(Thor Collard photo)

Guy Cooper and Kern Singh
(Rob Pyle photo)

Dave Tutelman (and Thor)
(Rob Pyle photo)

Mark Georg
(Rob Pyle photo)

John Green
(Thor Collard photo)

Joe Darmogray
(Rob Pyle photo)

Jim Hoskins
(Thor Collard photo)

Carla Montgomery
(Thor Collard photo)

Jerry Raack
(Rob Pyle photo)

Gary Hayenga
(Thor Collard photo)

Friday AM - Split Rock

Gathering time on Friday is about saying hello to old friends you haven't seen all year -- at least the ones you weren't drinking with at Rooster's last night, anyway. A few balls hit on the practice green and the range, and we were off. I played in the first group with Kern Singh, Bill-O, and Thor. (Thor always hits the first drive at RSG-Ohio.) It was interesting that our group consisted of two big hitters and the two oldest people there. There was always about a 50-yard gap between Thor's/Bill's drives and Kern's -- and mine, if I hit a good one. More about Kern's drives later.

When I saw this picture, I
thought, "Good basics in this
swing. I wonder who it is."
Then I realized it was me. With
that swing, I should have
scored better.
(Thor Collard photo)
I didn't play very well. On the front nine, I got on the double-bogey train for four holes in a row. Ouch! The back nine was better: a few pars and only one "dreaded other". But that was a quadruple bogey eight on the easy par-4 thirteenth.

One of my pars was pretty funny. It was on the "split rock" hole; there is a tree growing through a split boulder near the green of the short (125-yard) par-3. I hit a hook left into the woods, above a steep slope back to the green. So had Bill-O. I expected our golf balls would be near one another, but I hit a provisional and Bill didn't. My provisional was the shot I wanted for the first shot -- middle of the green. When we got to the green, there were only two balls on the putting surface. Turned out both were mine. Apparently my first ball hit a tree and kicked right, landing on the slope and rolling down to the green. Bill was not as lucky. We never found his ball, and he had to re-tee.

Thor had an impressive par four on the longish sixteenth. Big drive, but his second shot was right of the green. He was short-sided, in a downhill lie, with too much rough to land it short and bounce it onto the green. He managed to hit a big-swing flop shot from a downhill lie that landed on the green and stayed not too far from the hole. Then he made the par putt to halve (win? probably not) the hole.

The high point of the morning was The Chocolate Match. Meryl and Rancho Bob beat Tex and Pflagstick for some fancy chocolate. That match was decided on the last hole, one up. The decisive factor was Meryl's making a half-dozen really long putts. When chocolate is on the line, Meryl is as effective as Thor is when beer is on the line.

Friday PM - Foxfire

In the afternoon, we played Foxfire Lite. Foxfire Hi-Test is tomorrow. (For those who have never played there, Foxfire has two courses, the Foxfire course which is mostly pretty easy until the last 6-7 holes, and the Players' course which is major-league intimidating.)

I found myself in a four-ball beer match, teamed with Patrick against Meryl and Chuck. The match stayed very close for seven holes or so, with nobody getting more than one hole up. Patrick is a big hitter, but give Meryl the forward tees and she can usually outplay any of us. Then I found enough game so that Patrick and I were able to ham 'n' egg Meryl and Chuck, and it quickly got out of hand. By the turn (that's 27 holes on the day so far), Chuck and Meryl were complaining about being tired -- and they were riding. I give Chuck a lot of credit for a couple of amazing up 'n' downs on nine and ten to par and halve the hole. (On nine, he stood in the bunker and made a baseball swing at a ball up on the bank -- nearly shoulder height -- and put it to gimme range.)

The match ended 6 and 5 on the thirteenth hole, with Meryl and Chuck sounding like they were too tired to continue. But it must have been mentally tired from the match. Once the match was over and the pressure was off, they were fine with playing in the rest of the way. In fact, Meryl played the remaining five holes in just one over par. And that one over was a tee shot in the hidden lake at #18. (I told here there was a lake over there, but apparently it didn't register.) She re-teed and scored what she called a "mullibird". Love that word! Those last five holes are hard, with the possible exception of #17. I don't want to tell you how many over I was.

Dinner at Red Robin, which did a superb job accommodating us.

The whole Pflum family,
John, Amy, and Jean, were there.
Jean is now in high school, and
she's been coming to RSG-Ohio
since she was about five.

Here's something you don't see
very often: a professional
nutritionist eating a corndog.

Jean and two pesky Canadians
(l to r, Patrick and Snedds).
The balloons are to celebrate
Sneddon's birthday.

Saturday AM - The Main Event at Foxfire Players

Tunamint Round was the best-populated golf of the weekend -- six full foursomes. We played after "the McNeely group". They were very slow the front nine. We in the second RSG-Ohio group had a chance to watch them play the seventh, as we waited to tee off on the sixth. (The holes are just across a lake from one another.) Yeah, they were slow. One of my compatriots (Tex?) said, "I saw one of those guys in the pro shop. He asked specifically, 'What's the cheapest golf ball you sell?'" What were these guys doing on the Players Course?

Understand now, Players is an intimidating course. It's long, it's tight, and missing the narrow fairway will often mean not finding your ball at all. Well, it's long for me; we played from the 6700-yard blue tees. Not so long for the big hitters I was playing with: Tex, Sneds, and Neal Bell. But still intimidating, they admitted. The length was in their comfort zone, but other features of the course were distinctly not. All I was hoping was that my second shot on each hole would be beyond their tee shot. Most of the time it was. Not all the time.

In fact, I probably had the low score in the group through the fifth hole. That was the hole that Sneddon eagled, for the only skin of the round. (More about that later, but he got on the green with two monster shots, and made a 15-foot putt.) On the shortish par-fours at #1 and #3, I was on the green in good position in three. Not regulation, as I had to play them both driver, 8-iron, 8-iron. But it was good enough for a decent score. And I parred #2 (173-yard par-3 over a pond), #4 (long par-4, but I kept it in the middle and got up and down), and #5 (par-5; as long as I keep it straight, I can handle that).

Then we came to the sixth hole. Six through nine always blow my cool, almost every time I play this course. Long, and trouble everywhere -- including places to drown it on each. I managed to lose only one ball (the par-3 seventh), but avoiding the water kept me from being at all assertive with my game. And I did splash one on the sixth, but it didn't cost me. I completely bladed my approach shot; the ball skipped three times on the pond and bounced onto the green. I salvaged a bogey, and I was playing for a bogey anyway. On those four holes, I made bogey, triple, quadruple, and another quadruple; I don't think that was the order, but it was the bottom line.

Once that was out of the way, I got back to reasonable golf. Even good golf occasionally, and the blowups were relatively minor (double bogeys). I bounced back on the tenth hole: long, uphill, but no real ugly trouble unless you miss by a mile. Made the first par I've ever gotten there, hitting the flagstick with a 70-yard pitch.

After the scores were counted, I was disappointed that I hadn't broken 100. Then I was flabbergasted to learn that two of my three low-handicap fellow golfers didn't either, and I was between their two scores -- gross.  At least two of us had invoked the lost-ball-two-stroke rule, and so were disqualified from the maroon jacket anyway -- not that any of us was under any illusions after a third of the course was behind us.

Lunch on the deck.
(Warren Montgomery photo)

Bill accepting the Coffeemaker Trophy and the Quaich
(DaveT and Thor photos)
The scoring and awards were done on the outdoor deck for a change, a very pleasant change from the crowded indoor snack bar. Bill-O, who has won the Coffeemaker (net score winner) and the Quaich (gross score winner) in the past, got his first same-year double. Here are some pictures from the lunchtime ceremony. (Sorry, but there are no pictures from the Main Event; everybody was focusing on golf -- or survival -- not photography.)

Pflum and Tex enter the scores
into the computer. Note the
Maroon Jacket hanging over the
scorers' table.
(Thor Collard photo)

Thor announces the winners.

Kern was third in net score.
He looks like he wants to make off
with the prize before they change
their minds.
(Thor Collard photo)

Suddenly everybody with a camera
seems preoccupied with the roof's
gutters. What's going on?
(Rob Pyle photo)

It's a large praying mantis.
(Thor Collard photo)

Saturday PM - Match Play Madness at Foxfire Players

Ranch Bob and Thor amble
to the first tee.
(Warren Montgomery photo)
To our surprise, MPM was held at the Players course. To understand what Match Play Madness is, check out this link. That meant we had to play the tough holes again.

I played Rock (an honorary Ohioan), and our foursome included the match of Jim Hoskins (a real Ohioan, in fact a one-time golfer on the Ohio State team) and Kern Singh. Hmmm! Rock and Kern drove to Columbus from Michigan in the same car. How could one be playing for Ohio and the other for World? Just one of the unsolvable mysteries of golf, I suppose.

This was my second round of the week with Kern, and I was determined to learn how he does it. He is older than I am, smaller than I am, and doesn't have a classic swing, yet he consistently hits it longer and straighter than I do. I was intent on watching him to discover his secret. On the fifth tee (the long par-5), I figured it out. He puts everything he has into rotating his torso, and lets that drive the swing. I tried that -- and it worked! When I did it right, I was up there in the fairway alongside him. For the rest of the weekend, that became my swing thought. Now back at my Monmouth County courses, it still is my key, and it is still working. Thanks, Kern.

(Rob Pyle photo)

(Rob Pyle photo)
My own MPM moment came on the sixth hole but, truth be told, it would have been the same moment under the normal rules of golf. I put my tee shot throught the short dogleg and into the fairway bunker. I was 120yd from the green, having to hit over the pond in front of the green. And -- oh yeah -- my ball rolled through a puddle in the bunker, and now had a huge glob of sandy mud right where the clubface had to strike it. Rock was already on the green in two, so I couldn't just splash out to a fairway layup and go across the pond next shot; I had to go for the green. I went up a club (7-iron instead of my 120-yard 8-iron), and made a pretty good fairway bunker swing. The ball cleared the pond, landed on the green, and stopped inside of Rock's ball. We wound up halving the hole to keep the match all square.

Of course, another result was lots of mud spatter all over my front. After my wife saw these photos, she understood the laundry I had when I returned from Ohio. In fact, even my glasses had mud spatter. (I guess that means it was a good thing I was wearing them.)

(Rob Pyle photo)

(Rob Pyle photo)
The eighth is a par-five that doglegs around a lake. John Pflum had set the gorse tees well up, to encourage a risk-reward shot cutting across the lake. Rock and Jim went for it, and both hit big drives. No splash seen, so their balls were either in the fairway or the long bunker between the lake and fairway. We had no trouble finding Rock's yellow ball in the fairway. Jim's was harder to find. We didn't see it in the fairway, and looked for it without success in the bunker and the rough above the bunker.

We were about to give up, when Jim saw his ball in a hole in the fairway. It was plugged at the front of the deepest divot I've ever seen. In normal golf, Jim might have gotten relief if the ball was deemed to be plugged. But this is MPM, so...

Q. How do you hit a ball from a deep hole like this?
A. Treat it like a divot, and hit it with a descending blow.

That is exactly what Jim did, further deepening and enlarging the hole. The greenskeepers are going to love him. But he did advance it up the fairway.

Rock won the seventh and eighth holes, with my ball in the water both holes, to win the match 2 and 1. I believe Jim beat Kern by the same margin, so all of us were just playing the last hole for fun. I succeeded in another rock-skipping maneuver, my 4-iron shot touching the pond four times before making landfall in a position where I could chip onto the green.

I'm stymied and have to just
pitch out to the fairway.
(Rob Pyle photo)

Coops has to hit his ball off
a stump. He managed to put
the ball in the fairway without
injury to self or club.

Sneds' pitch was much too strong,
but hit the flagstick and
and stopped pretty close to
the hole.

Meryl putts for the match.
She made it.
She made a ton of long putts
in match play this weekend.

After that, all the groups hung around the ninth green until everybody was in. Then we took off for the clubhouse, the restaurant, and dinner. Well, not quite all of us. Some of us wanted to play in, and there was a three-hole route that allowed that. We played the fourteenth hole as an eightsome. Pure chaos! I remember Mark Georg (who was one of the first to tee off) asking, "Does anybody remember whether my ball went right or left?" It was like that all the way to the green, with most of us taking way too many strokes on the already-difficult par-5. Just doing the arithmetic, there must have been more than 60 shots hit by our group on that hole. Only four of us continued playing #17 and #18, the other four peeling off for the parking lot.

Our resident physical therapist
gives JP a shoulder massage.
Eventually we all rendezvoused at the Longhorn Steak House. It was food-friendly but storytelling-unfriendly. High ambient noise level, and a long table that required shouting to be heard at the other end. Or maybe there just weren't many good stories this year. Nah!

Perhaps the best story of all happened during dinner. I mentioned that Sneddon won the skins pool... All of it! It turned out to be $111. (Don't ask me how a $5 skins pool can be that number, unless it was banked with interest for the day.) He was feeling flush and offered to buy the first round of drinks for everyone at dinner. Very generous gesture! But David was a Scot before he was Canadian, and it looked like it physically hurt him counting out the bills for the bar girl.

Sunday AM - Phoenix Links

"Now on the tee, from
Canada, David Sneddon."

The RSG-Ohio champion
tees off.
Phoenix Links is even more hilly than I recalled. Of course, there is the climb from the parking lot to the first tee. Of course! But the course itself is one of the less flat venues in Ohio. It is really an excellent course. Almost no trees (except for the last two holes, which have a totally different character from the rest of the course), but the mounding and mountains make it a good challenge. Think of it as a links course, but nowhere near as flat as a true (seaside) links.

I played in the last group with Coops, Mark Georg, and Gary Hayenga. We mostly stayed in touch with the penultimate RSG group, but fell behind from time to time. (We were not behind when we caught up with them on the eighth tee, with four of our five foursomes on that par-5 hole.) It turned out to be more than a four-and-a-half hour round.

In the Annual International Match, the American team beat the pesky Canadians 3 and 2.

The Canadian team,
Sneddon and Inglis.
(Thor Collard photo)

The American team,
Pflum and Collard.
(Thor Collard photo)

Money changes hands
after the match.
(John Pflum photo)

Coops gets ready to hit on the
17th hole. Scary shot!
The gully on the left wraps
around in front. And it's
further than it looks,
170yd to the green.

Gary's approach shot on 18.
A narrow green, and a stream
cuts across in front. We have a
gallery, those RSGers who
have already finished.
There was an impressive beer match going on in my foursome, between Coops and Mark. On the 18th tee, Coops was 1 up. Coops found the fairway while Mark's ball was found just barely in the prescribed five minutes, in the deep right rough. Mark's second shot was a layup, and Coops' found the hazard. A few minutes later, Coops was in the hole with a double, and Mark had a 12-foot slippery downhill putt for a bogey. Mark nudged the putt on-line, and it rolled and rolled and rolled.... into the hole. Halving the match! (Coops tells me that he and Mark now have 36 holes without deciding a beer.)

I finished the round pretty happy. I kept the ball in play on the seventeenth for bogey, and got a routine, fairway-green-two-putt par on #18. It was my best round of the weekend, a mostly trouble-free 86.

Left Phoenix Links at 3pm, and was home shortly after 1am. A most worthwhile trip!

Thanks, Thor!