I can't think of some single superlative for this year's Pittsburgh
event. Guess I have to admit it is exactly what everybody expected:
low-pressure, relaxed fun! Well, "relaxed" if you consider a day of
lugging a bag for 36 holes around the hills of Pittsburgh relaxing.
Actually, only Saturday was 36. We did 27 on Friday and 18 on
Sunday. Of course, the reason the 18th hole at Cedarbrook is the last
hole of the weekend is that it's the toughest climb; after that, no gas
left in the tank for more golf. ... Speaking for this 66-year-old,
The itinerary was the usual south-of-Pittsburgh plan. We stayed at the John Butler House, played Lindenwood on Friday, Butlers on Saturday, and Cedarbrook on Sunday. Hey, it works!
|We played all three nines: Red to Blue in the morning,
and the somewhat easier Gold after lunch.
I played really badly until the middle of the Blue nine, at which time I spent the rest of the morning in the zone. I was 17 over par for the first twelve holes, and 3 over for the final six holes. (And that includes a double-bogey on #16 -- a really terrible drive to a bad position followed by five pretty good shots to recover.)
Thor was playing a beer match with Fred, and it was nip-and-tuck all the way. On the 17th hole, a severely downhill par-3, Thor put a perfect tee shot close to the back hole location, for a tap-in birdie to go one up with one to play. But Fred was not done. He hit two big, straight shots on the par-5 18th that left him chipping from the fairway right in front of the green -- while Thor was still 200yd away after two shots. But Thor hit to the rough near the green, then got up and down -- to halve the hole and win the match when Fred chipped short and couldn't sink the long birdie putt.
Then we had to get into line for our afternoon tee time. We were scheduled to play the Gold course, but the starter seemed to be confused about who should go off before us. We relaxed until he made up his mind. He finally sent a couple (a twosome in a cart) ahead of us, assuring us that they would not hold us up -- and they promised to play fast. I won't describe the woman in the twosome, except to say that we were motivated to play quickly, at least enough so to keep her in sight. They both played well, and fast enough that we lost them until the third hole, where they caught the group ahead of them. After that, we waited on most holes, but did get a chance to socialize with the couple a little.
I was in the first of our two groups, with Thor, Mark, and Terry Easton. Thor's afternoon beer match was with Mark, and he found it anything but easy. In fact, Mark closed him out on the eighth hole with a nice up-and-down for par, duplicating what Thor did to Fred in the morning (but earlier).
Let me say a few words about the second hole on the Gold nine. A par-5, it slants severely from right to left its entire length from the landing area to just in front of the green. It is almost impossible to keep your second shot on the fairway. None of us did. I hit my second shot straight down the right side, but once it was on the ground it ran down to the left rough. The others hit down the middle and wound up deeper in the rough, with Terry and Thor actually in the big spruces lining the fairway.
We finished the round knowing we had a workout that day. Combine that with the longer time spent waiting for groups ahead of us, and we decided against going for a fourth nine.
We chose Woody's for dinner. Gary Hayenga phoned ahead for a reservation and told us, "They are very busy tonight. They're putting us in the lounge, whatever that is." It turned out to mean that they had a few dinner tables in the bar, and our waitress was Lindsey the bartender. Lindsey was wearing a very low-cut red top, that showed a lot of Lindsey -- and there was a lot of Lindsey to show. I dare those with seats facing the bar to remember what they had for dinner; all they seemed to notice was -- you guessed it -- Lindsey. (My seat faced the wall. I had Chicken Parmagiana. It was delicious.) Which brings us to some of the discussion:
"Maybe we should add a few tables so we can all sit on this side and watch her."
"You realize there's a cover charge if we do that."
"Hey, look at what happens when she wipes the table. What do you think we can do to get her to come here and bend over?"
"How about spilling your beer?"
"Do you know how many microchips could be made with that much silicon?" (Yeah, I know it's silicone -- with an 'e'.)
Then back to the Butler House and sleep.
My biggest surprise of the back nine (actually the Woodside front nine -- we started and ended the day on that) was the similarity of some unusual shots to the front nine. In particular, I only hit two stinkeroos with an iron all day: dead right into the woods from a promising position in the fairway. Both times, it was the second shot on the Woodside #4. Yecch!
On the 17th tee, we were surprised by a sudden change in the weather. Right in the middle of Thor's backswing (yes, Thor, appropriately enough), the almost nonextistent wind turned into a two-club bluster. Thor backed off and waited for the sudden gust to go away. It didn't. He finally hit the ball, holding it left against the now-strong left-to-right headwind. His tee shot went left along the tree line and didn't come back. After Bill and I saw our drives blown way right (making this long dogleg left even longer), John nailed one right down the middle. The second shots were interesting. Thor held a draw into the slice wind, and almost got to the green -- very unusual for us on this hole. I had over 200 yards dead into the wind, and got it to within 30yd of the green. Thor got up and down for a rare par, and my par putt just lipped out. The par-3 eighteenth was playing long because of the heavy headwind with a serious slice component. We all over-read the crosswind, and wound up in the left-hand bunker. (I think one of us did manage to avoid the bunker, but I don't remember who.) I eked out a sandy par there, a good finish to a fine day of golf.
A bunch of tired but happy golfers relaxed on the porch of the John Butler House, watching folks finish the Woodland course (the eighteenth green is right off the porch) and drinking our beer (well, Fred had Coors Light; the rest of us were drinking beer). After a flurry of discussion and dueling cell phones, we decided upon dinner at the reopened Boston Waterfront. (Yes, that's really its name. And it is on the Boston waterfront. Boston, PA, is on the banks of the Youghiogheny River.) Thor still thinks we should have gone to Molnar's. Thor always thinks we should go to Molnars.
Boston Waterfront has changed since they were flooded out and rebuilt. I think they're a little more upscale and the menu is more limited. There are now only a couple of seafood dishes; I remember their seafood as varied and really good. The meal was fine -- I'm sure we would happily go there again -- but most dishes did not live up to the billing of the owner, who doubled as the greeter-in-chief. The steaks were not "the best you've ever tasted"; giving us that expectation probably diminished the experience, because they were certainly above average. My seafood pasta was excellent, and Fred says that the seafood crepes did live up to the owner's press release. Have to try them next time. The owner's recommendation of a "really excellent wine" was evaluated by our resident oenophile (Bill has a wine cellar) as mediocre, even after we played with the aerator toy they gave us. When the next bottle was served, we discovered Bill recognizes several strata of "mediocre".
By the time we left the restaurant, it was raining -- not too hard yet but steadily, with the promise of being serious.