Saturday, October 25, 2008
I scored for Brett Quigley, Jay Williamson, and Charles Warren today. Brett and Charles made the cut, but Jay didn't, shooting 74 today to go with 73 yesterday.
Charles started bogey-bogey and was 1 over after 9, when his wife and son met him near the 10th tee. She asked how he was doing, and he said "not very well." The kid was playing with the (standard length) putter, which is taller than he is. Then he made birdies at 12, 13, and 15 for a second consecutive 68 and is T32.
Q started out like a house afire, with 3 birdies on the first 4 holes, and ended up with 67 and is T51. Walking down the 18th fairway, he brought out pictures of his kids to show me and the standard bearers (Doug and Robin from Glendale). He has two girls, 18 months and 6 weeks, in Jupiter, FL. We were talking about them coming to see him play on tour later on, and he said he might not be playing later on. I talked a little with him later, and he's frustrated with the game. He said he rates himself on how often he hits his approach shots pin high, and he did that quite often today. He hit 18 GIR, and had 2 bogies, and missed a bunch of putts under 10 feet. The 67 could have been 61. He said that's the best he can play, but it wasn't enough. I asked him what he would be doing in a few years if he's not playing on Tour, and he said "something less stressful". He's been a touring pro since 1991, and made $2.6M in 2006, but is playing fewer tournaments, making fewer cuts, and having fewer high finishes since becoming a father.
Jay seemed to play OK, but had 6 easy bogies. He missed a bunch of short putts, too. He's not as long as the other two, and was hitting driver everywhere, whereas Q hit driver once, I think. Q and Charles hit lots of hybrids off the tees, and even irons on 15, where everyone hits driver and goes for the green. [Davis flew it on, played the backstop behind the pin and sucked it back to about 5 feet (I saw that on TV). Missed the eagle putt, tho.] Still, even after it was obvious that he was headed home for the weekend, Jay maintained his professionalism.
Nathan Green fulfilled the second of my two prophecies about him. Yesterday, after telling Kipp we'd be lucky to get a kick in the butt from him, never mind an autographed golf ball, I also said he might even develop a sudden illness and catch a plane out of town Thursday night. When he didn't show up for his tee time on Friday, it caused some difficulties with the scoring system. At the other end of the spectrum, Kevin Stadler, one of only two players who had a higher score than Nathan, returned to work Friday and tied the course record with a 61, including a bogey at 16. Unfortunately, he needed 58 to make the cut, and would have known that right from the start, but he wasn't about to let a little thing like that get him down.
"Golf doesn't build character, it reveals it".
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I kept score for Jim McGovern, Cameron Beckman, and Nathan Green today.
Jim shot 67, holed a bunker shot on 11 for eagle, and otherwise had a solid 3 birdies and two bogies. Cameron also had 3 birdies and two bogies, including a birdie on 18 (515 yds par 4), the 2nd hardest hole today.
Nathan had a bad day. It started out good, with a birdie on #1. He made bogey on 5 when his 6 foot 5 inch (thanks, Shotlink) par putt lipped out, and then had a devilish run of 6 - 6 - 6 on 7 through 9, shooting 7 over par on the front. The back 9 was better, with two more birdies but a double on 13 and a bogey on 18 to shoot 78.
His troubles started on 4, a par 5, where he hit his first provisional ball after hooking a drive into the desert. The first ball was found, and he hit a good recovery shot into the right rough, left his approach just short of the green, but got up and down for par. On 6, a drivable par 4, he hit his drive near the shotlink tripod and a golf cart, in a small desert area between the cart path and the rough. He was disturbed that they hadn't cleared all that stuff out of his way by the time he arrived. He was already in somewhat of a bad mood, having had to ask various people on various holes to stand still or stop talking while he played. He managed a nice shot onto the green and made par. Still even par.
On 7, his drive was in the fairway, but sort of behind the tree in the desert peninsula that juts out, and he hit his approach into a deep bunker to the right of the green. It was a fairly long bunker shot, to a pin on a pretty severe right-to-left slope. As he was preparing to hit, a volunteer was walking in the desert 30 yards behind him, in between holes. He had to be stopped. Nathan fussed over the shot for a while, then hit it too far right, into a collection area behind the green. Then he berated the marshal that was standing behind the green, for being in his line of sight for the shot -- 20 feet to the right of his line of sight to the pin. That was when a comment including the words "every f***ing hole" was heard. The chip barely reached the top of the hill, and two putts later he had his double bogey.
On 8, a par 3, I didn't see the tee shot, but it went about 30 degrees offline to the right, into the desert. He hit a provisional ball, and then found his first one. That was declared unplayable, so he went back to the tee and hit 3, onto the green. I and Kipp, my standard bearer, had been helping find the first shot, and waited for Nathan and his caddy to catch up so that I could verify the events. From down in the ravine I could not see the tee, and it is one of the more complex situations for a walking scorer. I was going to ask the caddy if I had it right, but as Nathan walked by me he said "Don't ask". 3 putts later he had his 2nd 6.
On 9, he hooked his 2nd shot into the desert, hit a provisional, found the first ball under a tree and chipped it out, into the bunker. No save, double bogey 6.
On 11, he hit his drive left, toward a tree on the edge of the fairway, and hit a provisional. We had motioned to the marshal standing under the tree, and he moved out of the way. We all went searching for the ball in the desert. There was a ball next to the shotlink person, and I asked her about it and she said that was his second tee shot, and she didn't know where the first one had gone. Finally, Nathan asked if anyone knew where his provisional ball was, and I told him. Then he went back to the tree and found a ball in the rough. I think he didn't know which was which, but based on what I said that the shotlink person had said, he asked his partners if it was OK to play the ball under the tree. They said sure, go ahead. I think if a rules official was there, he would have said that Nathan had abandoned the search and was hitting 4, but ... another reason to be frustrated and paranoid. He wound up making birdie, but would not acknowledge any of our "nice bird" compliments.
On 13, he gave me my first wrong score in my career as a walking scorer. It's a par 3, and he hit his tee shot into the deep bunker on the right. I walked up the left side, near the exit. By this time, at 6 over par, Nathan was trying to finish as quickly as possible, and had no other important objectives. He hit his first bunker shot before I was in position to see it, and I gave him a bogey instead of a double. Usually, when a player sees that the standard bearer has the wrong score, he or his caddy will say something. I guess Nathan didn't want to point out that he was actually 8 over par, not just 7 over. He eclipsed my personal record for hearing the word "provisional" in a round. I think it was 4.
I think it was about that time that Kipp and I discussed the tradition of the pros signing golf balls for the walking scorer and standard bearer, and I said we would be lucky to get a kick in the butt from Nathan. I was right. He didn't sign any balls, didn't say thank you, didn't say anything. Jim and Cameron both went out of their way to come over to me to shake hands and say thank you again at the end, after they had thanked me and given me their autographed golf balls. At the time, I thought they were both just nice guys, which they had been all day, but now I think maybe they were also a little embarrassed for Nathan.
Nathan, if you read this, try to remember you have the best job in the world, and 100 million guys in America would trade places with you in a heartbeat, even if they had to shoot 78 sometimes.
Kipp is in 8th grade, and is allowed to practice with the high school team, but not play on it. (I guess in Florida they're a little more generous about who gets to compete. Bubba Watson started playing for his high school team when he was in 3rd grade.) He doesn't have an official handicap, but he averages around 75, and has broken par several times. From the tips. This kid is shorter than me, and half my weight, and hits it 270 off the tee. He's won two junior golf tournaments, and lost one in a playoff, and has several other top 5's. All day he was talking about Richard Johnson, who played well and all, but I didn't understand the fascination until I found out Kipp's last name is Johnson. Watch out for that name in about 10 years, maybe less. And you can bet he'll never stiff his walking scorer, even if he shoots 78.
I kept score for Rod Pampling's team today. Rod is Australian, as you know, and so is his caddy and his swing coach, who walked with us. The rest of the team was Harvey Shank (I kid you not), Rob Wise, and Dan Williams.
Cactus Dave and I played somewhere, I think it was Kokopelli [nah, it was Painted Mountain-- Cactus], and we saw the pro driving around in a golf cart, probably coming back from a playing lesson, and his bag in the back had his name on it: Craig Bunker (He's on the Golf Digest top 100 teachers list !!). Dave spoke to him: "That's not really your name, is it?" Probably not the most diplomatic way to make a first impression.
Harvey is a 2 handicap, and a Phoenix Suns executive. Hits the ball a mile, and had not a single namesake shot today. Rod's swing coach was giving him a little advice, which seemed like it will be very useful to me.
Rob is a 14-HCP VP with Discount Tire (very much like Town Fair Tire, for the CT folks). His caddie was one of his store managers. I didn't catch what Dan does for a living, but he said he plays at DC Ranch, a private club in North Scottsdale, not far from Grayhawk. He's a 4.
All three of the amateurs were long hitters, consistently in the same area of the fairway as Rod, and Rod was rarely hitting last. Their tee shots were so close together that on one shot, Rod was getting ready to hit Rob's ball, until his caddie called him off. On 4, a 3-shot par 5, Harvey hit his drive 5 yards past Rod's, both in the fairway, and then hit his 2nd shot next to Rod's, also in the fairway, and said "I figure if I stay close to him, maybe I can learn something".
The team ended up 6 under par, only 9 shots out of the lead :) For a long time they were stuck on 5 under, and on the back 9 when Dan had birdie putts on a couple of holes in a row, the standard bearer had the "6" in his hand before the putt. That was considered a jinx, but Dan took the 6 and put it in his pocket for luck. On the next hole, he spent some time under a large palo verde tree in the desert, and was hitting 6 from 200 yards out. But, on the hole after that, a par 3, Rob putted from off the green to within inches, and tapped in for a net birdie (we thought). Everyone cheered, and Dan brought out the 6 for the scoreboard. Then Harvey, nonchalantly, feeling no pressure, rolled in a 25-footer, also from off the green, for a deuce. Everyone wanted it to be 7 under, and Rod still had a birdie putt for 8 under. He missed it, but when writing down the score he revealed the fact that Rob didn't get a stroke after all, and they were only 6 under. That was the 17th hole, so we needed 9 more birdies on the last hole to tie for the lead. But, for some time before that, having fun had been the only remaining objective.
This is a very tough golf course. Last time I played it, I thought I was just playing badly, but the bunkers are enormous and very deep, and the fairways are all full of mounds and hills, so that you can hit to what you might think is a good place, and it rolls to a bad place. You need length, too, or your seemingly flat tee shot doesn't make it across the valley and you have a long, blind approach from an uphill lie. It's a desert course, so you can't go very far off the fairway and still be playable, and the fairways look much wider than they really are, because of things like trees and steep side-slopes in the landing areas. The greens are mostly very elevated, so anything that rolls off the edge can roll another 10 yards or more down a steep hill to a closely-mown collection area. There are two short par 4's, one on each 9, that the pros can drive, but very rarely does one ever hit the green, and there are no easy up-and-downs on those holes.
Everything else about the facility is first class, too: clubhouse, pro shop, restaurant, service. I would like to change my rating on the spreadsheet to a "1".