Dave Tutelman -- 6/10/2003
(Photos at the bottom of this page)
RSG-Hershey is arguably the oldest of the annual RSG events, and hasn't
missed a year yet. The first was in 1995, when it was an add-on to the Elizabethtown
College Alumni Tournament. In its early years, the title round was held at
the Hershey South (Parkview) course. But we haven't been there in a while,
mostly because they had gotten very sticky about walkers. (You know that
attitude spells death to RSG attendance.)
The good news is that the course has changed ownership, and walking is
back. History: in the 1960s, the Hershey company sold the course to American
Golf. They ran it, as they do their other courses, on a strictly profit-and-loss
basis. This encourages a carts-only policy where they can get away with it.
This year, Hershey bought the course back. We saw as many walkers as riders.
Cool! All of us walked the course except Terry Easton, and he had a doctor's
note and the Ace bandage to go with it
But let's begin at the beginning...
Friday morning - Hershey Parkview
As usual, Coops showed up two minutes before our tee time. This presented
a bit of a problem, as he had told us not to pay; he was going to put us
all on his card and we would reimburse him. We (and the pro shop) bailed on
this plan with about ten minutes to go.
As noted, most of us walked the course. I played with Ron and Don (a couple
of Coops' local friends) and Terry. I decided to carry my bag, because Hershey
is most hilly and it's easier to carry than pull with that much steep terrain.
The course is as much fun as I had remembered. Yes, there are a lot of
blind shots, but I find them more amusing than infuriating. In fact, the
whole group parred the fifth hole, which is a blind par-3. (Yes, you heard
that right.) It is 135 yards, but almost as many vertical (uphill) yards.
The green is quite invisible, on top of the near-cliff you are hitting up
to. The pin is probably 15-20 feet tall, so you can see the flag from the
I got off to a bad start; I couldn't hit my woods at all well (hooking
the three-wood and slicing the driver). But the fourth and fifth holes are
short enough to be played with irons, which I seemed to be hitting fairly
well. Parred both, and that boosted my confidence -- and, of course, ability
-- with all the clubs.
Probably the three strongest holes on the course are eight, nine, and
ten; talk about an "amen corner":
I got through the corner double-bogey, bogey, bogey, and am proud of it.
Our group saw only one par out of the three holes, and more than one double-digit
- Eight is just plain long for a par-4: 457 yards from the blues.
(We played the blues, because we were all comforable with 6332 yards, and
the whites were only 5800.) But it has a major dip on the right two thirds
of the fairway in the landing area of a good drive. Leave it there (you
probably will, because there's OB close left), and you have a severely hanging
lie with the ball way below your feet. Hard to get any distance that way,
and you will need the distance. (How do I know? I topped one
and thinned the next from the hollow.)
- Nine is only 13 yards longer than eight, but it is a par-5. It doglegs
severely left, and you cross a stream twice Your tee shot must be perfectly
placed to go for the green in two. You hit to a blind landing area over a
steep hill. There is a stream beyond; too long and you're wet. (The "stream"
had become a rapidly-flowing river, due to a very rainy Spring. Must have
been even more so after Saturday's heavy rains.) A perfect line is to the
left edge of the landing area; you could be inside 200 yards there. But you
have to drive it 260 on that line; leave it short and you're blocked by
trees and stll have to pitch to the landing area. The further right you drive
it, the easier to get a look at the green, but the longer the shot. With
the stream in front of the green, you probably won't go for it. Our foursome
drowned four balls, and had a couple of large scores. (Ron and Don had a
match going; I think the hole was won with a triple-bogey.)
- Ten starts with a drive back over the stream. Sounds easy, but the
stream has carved a deep, wide ravine at that point. You tee off from one
crest and the fairway starts at the other, about 180 yards away. Trees line
the opening left and right. So your drive has to be straight and not at
all mishit or you're in big trouble. If you hit a good drive, you still
have over 200 yards, all uphill, to a rather small green. The green has two
tiers with a big vertical separation, so it's very hard to putt from one
to the other. (It used to be a false front; but most of the green was false
front so they stuck the flag there often. When they did, you had to put the
ball in the hole or roll back off the green. At least they fixed that.)
The low areas of the course were quite wet, as expected. But the greens
had drained very well and the fairways were more soft than muddy, so the
casual water was mostly limited mostly to the rough. However, even soft fairways
can be a problem. I hit a towering drive on #16 (relatively short par-4 at
322 yards, and downhill into the stream valley). When it landed, it plugged
so deep it was hard to find. Terry got there first with the cart, managed
to find it, and marked it for me so I could find it.
Friday afternoon - Armitage
This course is always fun, and we had a sunny, warm afternoon to enjoy
it. I played in the second group with Coops and Mark Koenig, and we had a
ball. The course played slow for most of the front nine (they send out a
lot of groups, many with minimal skills), but opened up nicely after a long
wait at the turn. (The tenth is a hole guaranteed to slow down play; a long
par-4 with lots of places on the right to lose balls and hunt for them.)
This round initiated "The Great Ticket Contest!". Coops announced that
a set of tickets to the US Open (next week in Chicago) had been donated by
Joe Dean via David Hayes, as a prize. The rules of the contest were pretty
Since nobody felt they could fly to Chicago for a week on a few days'
notice, the contest was something the participants wanted to lose. Interesting
psychology there. I held the tickets from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning,
having "won" the shortest missed putt contest on the eighteenth at Armitage.
- Everybody had to participate.
- If you held the tickets at the end of the weekend, you had to use
them. (This was later softened to "you cannot sell them; you could give
them away or keep them as sourvenirs." But that decision was only made at
the end of the weekend; the contestants spent the contest believing that
a victory would necessitate a trip to the Open.)
- There would be six individual contests over the weekend. (Like closest
to the pin, or longest putt, or things like that.) Coops would announce the
first one. Whoever won it would temporarily hold the tickets.
- The current holder had the right and the responsibility to decide
and announce the next individual contest.
- Whoever held the tickets after six contests won the tickets.
As we approached our tee shots on the eighteenth hole, we noticed that
(1) the first foursome's tee shots were still in the fairway and they had
emerged from the trees, and (2) there was the skirl of bagpipes coming from
the area of the green. Looking closer, there was a bagpiper standing behind
the green in full Scottish regalia (including kilts), playing for us as we
hit our approach shots. We finished and walked off the green to the tune of
Some friends of Coops' are from Scotland, and their teenage son Andrew
is an accomplished piper. They came out to meet us at the end of the round.
Andrew piped us in, and they all stayed for dinner with us at The Caddyshack
(Armitage's clubhouse restaurant). Which brings us to...
The appetizer at dinner (very nearly a dinner in itself) was the Pennsylvania
Dutch version of haggis. Coops had gotten it locally at a German meat store.
The offal is from pigs instead of sheep, and it is extended with potato instead
of oatmeal, but our Scottish friends assured us that it is very similar to
the Scots version. They had a wonderful time with it, as did Mark K who feels
that scrambled eggs and haggis is the only fit breakfast for a golfer.
I left for my motel (out in Carlisle, not the usual Harrisburg Red Roof)
at about ten o'clock. Mark, Mike Plowinski, and Coops adjourned to Gilligan's
in Harrisburg, across the street from Mark & Mike's motel. Good thing
too, because they closed the place at about 2:30AM. They didn't want Coops
to drive at that point -- but that was already covered in Mark's writeup.
Something about separate box springs and mattresses...
Saturday - The Bridges
I'm sure The Bridges is really a very nice course. And I'm sure their
title bridges will be restored by next year, having been washed away in
Saturday's deluge. (No, I'm just making that up. But it could have
happened and maybe did. There were bridges washed away on other golf courses
When we arrived at the course, it was already raining considerably, though
perhaps not yet heavily. It certainly wasn't just a mist or a drizzle, it
was Rain with a capital "R". Even so, six of the eight of us decided they
came to play regardless. (Terry and I had the sense to come in out of the
rain. It clinched it for us when the only other golfers of the day dripped
in after three holes saying, "You gotta be kidding!") The really heavy rain
saved itself until our first threesome had teed off. By the time they appeared
at the ninth green (yes, they really did):
I'll let somebody else give you the details -- maybe someone who was out
on the course. All I know is that everybody looked wet and miserable, except
for Mark Georg who was wet but excited. He had come with very low expectations
for his golf game, and made two birdies in his first nine holes. (Mark missed
the Friday rounds, having just started a new job and having no vacation time
yet.) Roger Georg made it to the course, and was one of the Certifiable Six
who played. Of course, it was no big deal for him. He lives just 17 miles
down Route 94, and drove a shorter distance than we did from our motels.
- Half the practice green was underwater (and the greens here are
known for really good drainage).
- The grass "hollow" alongside the practice green had become a rapidly
- The outdoor stairs for the clubhouse patio had become a series of
The rest of the day was free time, a total rainout. We had lunch at Mr.
T's Roadhouse, where we were supposed to have dinner. Then we drove back.
Mark G, in my passenger seat, spent most of the time on his cell phone clearing
a problem for his new employer. Driving through the Pennsylvania hills the
cell phone kept cutting out, and the guy in the office didn't have much server
experience so Mark had to talk him through every keystroke. All in all,
more amusement than we wanted for the drive back. But it was fixed by the
time we reached Carlisle. Then we stopped for parts and supplies for Mark
to fix his truck, which had sprung a leak on the drive out from Pittsburgh.
Back at the motel, Mark fixed the truck and we napped.
In the evening, we met for dinner at Scott's in Harrisburg. Nice restaurant,
not at all like our usual RSG event fare. In fact, it's a Saturday night
date place. And the food and drink were outstanding. For me, one of the winning
points was a live jazz combo (piano and bass) that played the whole evening
-- very cool! After dinner, Mark G and I sacked out while Mark K, Mike, and
Coops repeated last night's performance.
Sunday morning - Dauphin Highlands
If this is RSG-Hershey Sunday, then this must be Dauphin Highlands. It's
a great course to end the weekend for a number of reasons:
As we arrived in the parking lot, we were greeting by a startling sight:
Coops was already there! I checked my watch, and we had more than twenty
minutes left to our tee time. What was going on here? Turns out the repeat
of last night's performance was pretty nearly identical, including the slumber
party. Mike and Mark were not going to be late for a tee time, so Coops had
no opportunity to sleep in and arrive at the last minute.
- Location, location, location! It is 1.9 miles from the Turnpike
entrance, making for a quick getaway for those with a long drive home.
- It's a course we all love, with good flow, enough challenge and
trouble, but not requiring great shotmaking. (Unfortunately, the flow has
been considerably marred by a new routing, interchanging holes 9 and 18.
It was done for commercial reasons; the snack bar is now in the clubhouse
instead of next to the tenth tee. So they make you walk and climb past the
clubhouse at the turn, instead of just stepping from the ninth green to
tenth tee. Yecchhh!)
- I usually don't want another round of golf that day after dragging
my clubs from the seventeenth to eighteenth tees. After a generally very
hilly course, this climb is the coup de grace.
Since Saturday was rained out, this became the tournament round. In addition,
we had two contests left to decide the fate of the US Open Tickets. The
ticket contest was decided by:
I played Dauphin with Mike and both Marks. Mark K and Mike definitely showed
the effects of three nights short on sleep and long on beer; I've never
seen either of them play worse. Mark G, on the other hand, was focusing
on not running up big numbers and maybe catching an occasional par. That
was his plan for the tournament. After a pretty dismal first few holes,
the plan started to work. He finished with a solid enough round to tie Terry
for first place, and win the card-matching tie-breaker. Mark made a 15-foot
par putt on the last hole. It was five or ten minutes before we all understood
how important that putt was. Congratulations, Mark!
- Closest to the pin on the short (130-yard) fifth hole. That was when
we found out how much people did not want those tickets. The winner of that
contest was nowhere near the pin, but was the only ball to find the green
of eight golfers.
- On the long, hard par-3 eighth, the contest was closest tee shot
to the green without actually being on the green. The outcome presented
the tickets to Terry.
During the round, Mark K and the others reminded me that my joints tend
to foretell a good shot. When they can hear my skeleton make cracking noises
at the top of my backswing, I hit a beauty more often than not. This became
a running joke after I hit the long drive of our four very good drive on
number eleven -- and Mark said he heard my joints complaining before my downswing.
Miscellaneous other stuff
I had three "wildlife moments" during the weekend:
Coops, you outdid yourself this time. Even came through with the pipes
and haggis. This will be one tough act to follow!
- At Armitage, a white egret flapped lazily across the course.
- At Dauphin Highlands, we watched a fox patrol the wetlands ravine
on the seventeenth hole.
- At Hershey, we saw a large hawk in a tree about 50 yards from the
tee where we were standing. He took flight and glided straight at me.
That's a big and fearsome bird in flight, and it looked like he was hunting
me. At the last second, I stepped aside and the hawk flew straight up into
the big tree that overhangs the teeing ground. Then we saw what caused the
threat; there was a huge nest near the top of the tree (maybe three or four
feet across) with three small (but hardly tiny) hawks visible over the top
of it. When I got back to New Jersey, I got out the Audobon book and identified
the bird as a red-tailed hawk -- but definitely at the big end of the species'
Click on thumbnail for full-size photo.
Coops gets organized on the first day
Jon Green soaks up rays at Armitage
Mark Koenig & Terry; note Mark's cool traditional golf gear
The Cup awaits presentation
The Cup is presented to Mark Georg, the new RSG-Hershey champion,
by the lead dancer of the Hershey Kisses*
Mark enjoys a victory quaff
Will Terry be de-frocked?
Terry displays his prize from The Great Ticket Contest
* Actually, she is Dawn, and she drives the beer cart
at Dauphin Highlands.
Dave Tutelman / Wayside, New Jersey / firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified on 10 June 2003