Fall Colors in Pittsburgh

RSG Mini-Pitt 2005

Dave Tutelman  -  November 2, 2005

Thor had this great idea...
How about getting together for one last RSG event for the year.

Some of us were inordinately fond of those courses north of Pittsburgh that we only got to play once. RSG Pittsburgh was held there in 2003, and has been difficult to schedule there since. After a flurry of email, we had five hardy golfers show up: Thor (of course -- it was his idea), Mark Georg (of course -- he lives right there), Joe Dean, Fred Stluka, and me. The intent was to get in three rounds, including two Saturday in spite of the shortness of the daylight hours. And we made it! It was nowhere near dark when we finished the afternoon round at Krendale. That's where the photo above was taken, about three holes from the finish. But there was plenty of daylight left to finish.

Saturday: Stoughton Acres and Krendale

Here's our group, enjoying the fall colors and delightful weather. (Of course the weather was delightful! Hey, Thor was there; in fact, it was his idea.) From left: Joe "Deuce" Dean, Dave "Thor" Collard, Fred Stluka, and Mark Georg.

We got together as planned at 8am at Stoughton Acres. We got on line to register in the folksy "pro shop", intermixed with a group of riding regulars there. We let them go out first, since we were planning to play as a fivesome. (Yes, they let you do that.) The lady behind the counter assured us, "They're fast. They're really fast. I know them." Well, the first few holes, they weren't really fast -- more like half-fast. But they finally did pull away from us so we were no longer waiting by the middle of the front nine. There were holes open in front of us by the turn, and we were caught by a riding threesome a couple of holes from the end; but we didn't slow them up much. We finished in just over four hours, so we didn't embarrass the course for letting us play as five.

Mark and I switched our usual roles for the round. He normally carries and I have a three-wheeled push cart. But I had just bought a new bag, and wanted to test it as a carry bag. And Mark now has his own three-wheeler. So he wheeled and I carried. (While the bag was a big success and a great design, I'm probably no longer physically up to carrying. I played well -- my best round of the weekend -- but I started to feel it in my knees and obliques, and had a nasty toe blister by the end of the day.)

Stoughton is as lovely as I remembered it. Rolling, even hilly, they keep it in immaculate shape. No two holes are similar, and the course (especially the back nine) just "flows" over the land. A few memories of specific holes:
In the afternoon we played Krendale. The West nine was closed. (Too bad; that's Mark's favorite nine there, and mine too.) We played the North followed by the South. We played as a foursome; Joe's elbow was bothering him, so he walked with us, tended the flag, and otherwise enjoyed the round without ever hitting a ball.
Here are some more photos from Krendale.

Fred tees off on the second hole.

Thor's approach shot on the third hole crosses the pond.

Thor relaxes and enjoys the scenery.

Fred and me. Yes, Fred is taller than I am, but he's also standing uphill.

After golf, we went to Mark's house for dinner. We had "undergraduate Italian": pizza and beer. We also met the three women in Mark's life: Grace, Abby, and Sophie. In my opinion, one is a sweetheart and the other two are dogs.

After supper, I discovered what Joe was saving himself for -- bowling! Actually, we had agreed that Saturday night would be bowling night. The other four actually brought their own bowling balls. I decided not to partake, but had a good time just sitting and watching. Saturday night is date night, of course, so there was plenty to watch. Among other attractions, the near-centerfold identical twins in the next lane kept me from getting bored while the others bowled, but I think they were a major distractions to the bowlers. Fred had tried to get sympathy (I don't think you get strokes in bowling) by pointing out how much dust there was on his ball, but he turned out the big money winner for the evening. Hey, I don't think I've seen that much money change hands over golf at an RSG event. Joe's forbearance during the afternoon bore some fruit; he had the high game -- I think it was something like 189.

Sunday: Birdsfoot

Sunday morning, we drove about 40 minutes to Birdsfoot golf course in Slate Lick. The first thing we noticed as we entered the clubhouse was a face carved into a tree. There were several more all over the course.

We had almost an hour's wait for a frost delay. Birdsfoot is very well-managed. They kept the golfers informed of progress and estimated starting times, and put together a shotgun start to minimize the wait for most. We all had to wait until the course defrosted, but nobody had to wait much beyond that. Clever!

Since we were the only walkers in the Sunday crowd, they sent us off from the first tee, so we wouldn't have a walk out to our start or back from our finish. They actually allowed us to play as a walking fivesome among all those riding foursomes. That shows a lot of confidence in us, and we appreciated it. But they did warn us to keep up the pace, and told us that the ranger, Leo, is highly assertive and his nickname is "Shotgun". We felt duly notified.

As it turned out, their confidence was not misplaced. On the sixth tee, which was on top of the world, we had a wait for the group -- the riding foursome -- ahead of us. So we looked back down the long par-5 fifth hole and saw that the riding foursome behind us hadn't teed off yet; we were a full par-5 ahead. That was not maintained for the whole round. As hilly as the front nine was, the back nine was even more so, with the addition of long uphill climbs from green to tee. With the terrain slowing us down compared to the riders, the group ahead inched away. The last time we had to wait for them was on the fifteenth tee. By the end, the group behind us did a little waiting for us -- but only a little.

I've already said how hilly the course was. It was also quite challenging, and played longer than the marked yardage.
After we finished, we said our goodbyes in the bar and headed for home. Thanks to Thor for the idea and Mark for making the local arrangements. Had a great time!