RSG-Hershey 2003
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 tee.

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 score.

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 simple:
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.

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 the pipes.

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 Saturday.)

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.

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.

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!

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!

Photo Album

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 /

Last modified on 10 June 2003