Golf is a difficult game. If it was easy we’d all be on television teeing it up at the British Open this weekend, wouldn’t we?
Instead we grind away in Soldotna, searching for the endlessly elusive repeatable swing. Some of us find it, if only for a round, or maybe even a couple of weeks if we’re lucky. Others never do.
That’s the game we play. It can be humbling, even cruel, but those rare moments of ball-striking purity feel so good we continue to hack away.
Just how humbling can golf be? Just ask some of the pros who teed it up Monday at the Wells Fargo All-Alaska Pro-Am at Birch Ridge Golf Course. Our own Aaron Dexheimer only hit the ball 67 times to take first place honors in the pro division. John Baker and Bryan Anderson tied for second, four shots back with a pair of 71s. Matt Haneline, a Callaway staffer in town for the company’s demo day event, posted a 71 as well to take first place in the amateur division.
The top eight pros qualified for the skins game that followed and that’s when “bleep” hit the golfing fan.
I’ve played golf with all of these guys and can attest to their abilities. These pros can really play, but that skins game was a struggle. I’m sure it was refreshing for all the 20 handicappers in attendance to see that even pros get humbled from time to time. Richie “Paul Bunyan” Lundahl paired with James Contreras to win every last penny.
The deciding hole, No. 12, ended in some bizarre golfing version of the “twilight zone” when John Baker played out of turn to lose the hole, match and ultimately the money.
While the event may have lacked some of the sterling play from previous years, everyone had a great time, and the golf course was in absolutely fantastic condition.
Jeff Barnhardt, executive director of the Alaska Golf Association, went so far to say that our greens were the best in the state. When we hear comments like that it makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Callaway Demo Days
Illustrious luminaries from Callaway Golf spent the entire day at Birch Ridge during the Pro-Am, fitting our local duffers with equipment guaranteed to keep the ball in the fairway. OK, OK, guaranteed is a bit of a stretch, I have to remind myself that I’ve seen most of you play before, and unless Callaway has a new line of laser-sighted drivers coming out, the occasional lost ball is still a distinct possibility. All joking aside, having a Callaway demo day at our golf course was an incredible opportunity for our golfing community, and it was good to see so many of you take advantage of their expertise.
The guys from Callaway enjoyed their time here so much that plans are already in the works for a return trip next summer and we’d love to have them back.
Eight grizzled golfing veterans showed up just in time to watch Gordon Briscoe walk away with a Senior League win and closest-to at No. 6. Gordon’s shot was an incredible 84 feet from the hole. Eighty-four feet. Was Gordon’s shot the only one to reach the dance floor? Was it the furthest away, closest to, in Birch Ridge history? I’ve ordered the Birch Ridge Celebrity Panel to investigate the matter and results are pending.
Ken Gill captured closest-to at No. 8 at a much more reasonable distance of 11 feet, 10 inches. Seniors, I owe all of you an apology. In last week’s column I refused to list the long putt because of its inadequate length. I also mentioned the ladies long putt of 75 feet and challenged you to do better.
Well, it turns out the ladies lied; their long putt was actually a measly 75 inches, not feet. So my apologies go out to our senior golfers. You guys make Ben Crenshaw look like he has the yips.
Tuesday Morning Ladies League
Seven spectacularly divine ladies came out for Tuesday Morning Ladies League this week. I felt gross typing that last sentence, but I’m leaving it in the column in an effort to be nice this week. Leona “Eye of the Tiger” Jackson was low gross this week with a tidy 46 swings. Tanya “The Wrecker” Boedecker took low-net with a sparkling 33. Denise Cox captured closest-to at the sixth and Louis “Rock the Cradle” Schadle took more putts than any other lady during the round to actually win something.
Why are the ladies awarding the golfer with the most putts a prize? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s some ill-advised form of reverse psychology.
Ladies, stop it, you stop it right now.
Tuesday Couples Night
Accounting errors ruled the night this Tuesday for our madly in love, hopelessly lost without each other, couples. The couples played a two-person Chapman, which is just like alternate shot, only on steroids.
Don “Bagger” McGhee teamed with Margaret Stanley for the win, but when a handicapping error was noticed they dramatically fell out of first place, replaced by George and Sue Stein. Mike “Govenator” Chenault paired with his wife Tanna for a second-place finish.
Despite the exciting controversy surrounding the play, the real story was Lori “On a Mission in the Kitchen” Weimer, who knocked out some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Well, at least since chocolate was invented. More Lori, more.
Birch Ridge Golf Committees Officially Unofficial Golf Rankings
Two members of the Birch Ridge Celebrity Panel’s top 10 won tournaments this past weekend leading up to this weekend’s British Open. Steve Stricker won the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic and Luke Donald captured the Scottish Open. The top 10 remains unchanged this week, although Donald and Stricker both moved up in the rankings.
1. Rory McIlroy; 2. Luke Donald; 3. Lee Westwood; 4. Jason Day; 5. Steve Stricker; 6. Charl Schwartzel; 7. Graeme McDowell; 8. K.J. Choi; 9. Nick Watney; 10. Matt Kuchar.
Answer from last week: The first British Open was held at Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1860. Willie Park Senior beat the legendary and one of my all-time favorite players, Old Tom Morris, by two strokes.
To avoid any confusion Old Tom Morris should not to be confused with our own Old Tom Walsh. If your ever bored, “Google” Old and Young Tom Morris — great stories involving both men.
Q. Which golfer has won the most British Open championships?