When the Going Gets Tough . . .

Bedouin caddySo why is it named the “Inferno Cup”? The question haunted me throughout Friday’s round. As I lined up a 30 foot putt on the 18th hole, I noticed a lovely little pond shimmering between the hole and my ball. Miniature palm trees sat on the pond’s edge casting a shadow over the Bedouin tent hanging limply in the still air. A bearded man wearing a keffiyeh tended the flag stick while his camel stood beside him. “That’s got to be tearing up the green,” I thought. But the way I’d been putting, what’s a couple of camel hoof-prints and a little dromedary dung in my line. It was 116° Fahrenheit. (For you Canadians fighting off your summer time mosquitos, that’s 47° Celsius). Meanwhile… I pondered the significance of “Inferno Cup”.

Kildare on FirePlaying conditions brought the number of participants down to a paltry twelve golfers. I’m pleased to report that all twelve survived, especially after diligently replenishing body fluids in the Member’s Grill following the round. Ring leader Dennis Kildare and Jim Stamatis appeared to be joined at the hip, shoulder and swing. Each finished on the first place team along with George Stelmach. Each finished with a net 65 to tie for low net honors. And each went home with two sun-parched skins in their bag. The complete match results can be seen here.

Kurt Saulnier took low gross honors with a 75. Jim Stamatis and Mike Miller finished second with 77. Here is the complete score report.

One great advantage to playing in the reduced field was that there were Inferno Cup points laying all over the course. My team finished in dead last place and we still picked up twenty cup points each for merely surviving. But it’s a dry heat. There was no change at the top of the Inferno Cup leader board, but the gaps closed significantly. Here are the latest Cup standings.

Global Warming Hits the Field at Gainey

Jim Stamatis 20130504
Jim Stamatis tees off

Admittedly, it was a tad on the warm side. Temperatures exceeded golf scores as the thermometer climbed to 105° Fahrenheit. Apparently it was warm enough to melt golfer’s balls and clubs. Twenty-eight golfers raged war for Inferno Cup points. Most competitors had thoughts early on hoping their teammates were playing better than they were themselves. As it turns out, no one was.

For the first time in memory, not a single golfer bettered his handicap. Scores were dismal. Consider this – the odds of a golfer shooting below his handicap are close to one in five. For two golfers to shoot above handicap, the odds are 0.82 x 0.82. For three to fail to shoot handicap – 0.82 x 0.82 x 0.82, etc. Now, the odds of none of 28 golfers bettering handicap are 0.82 raised to the 28th power. That would be approximately one in two-hundred-sixty.

But it happened yesterday! Jim Stamatis and Evan Carr played at their handicaps, but no one could muster better than a net 69 on a course rate 68.7.

Low Net
1. Jim Stamatis and Evan Carr – 69
3. Scott Thompson – 72
Seven golfers were tied at 73

Low Gross
1. Anthony Arvidson – 72
2. Scott Thompson – 78
3. Dave Inman – 80
Here are the complete results for Wednesday’s match.

The team game was one of the most interesting we’ve had in some time. Tee pairings were such that golfers with similar handicaps were in the same group. One group’s handicaps averaged about three while another group’s averaged more than twenty. However, here’s the catch. The players not only were not paired as teams, they were assured they would not be teammates when the match was over.

The computer put together random teams containing an “A”, “B”, “C” and “D” player after the matches had been completed. While on the course, the only thing the golfers knew was (1) they were playing AGAINST the others in their group and (2) every shot could have an impact on their ultimate team’s success.

As luck would have it, the computer put the top three low net finishers on the same team. Jim Stamatis, Even Carr and Scott Thompson carried their team to the top spot and fifty Inferno Cup points. Mike Wentrup was their fourth. He played respectably, but with the numbers one, two and three finishers leading the way, he probably could have spent the afternoon in the Member’s Grill.

Here are complete match results and skins as well as the gross scores for all the participants. Friday’s match should be just as challenging at temperatures are projected to hit 115°. Golfers are already dropping out which means there should be some real easy Inferno Cup points available to those who show up and survive.

June 21st – The Conquest

Raoul Encinas
Raoul Encinas

“Encinas” – from the Spanish word meaning “live oak tree”. A hard wood that when ignited, burns very hot. It’s hard to shake and once it’s in your way, you’ll play hell getting it out of your way. “Raoul” – a Frenchified version of “Ralph”. There is a small town in northeastern Georgia named Raoul. More than a quarter of its residents live in poverty. The rest live in Lee Arrendale State Prison, its largest employer.

What’s all this got to do with golf at Gainey Ranch? Hell if I know. I’m just trying to research possible explanations for the performance of our own Raoul Encinas on Friday the 21st. I had the pleasure of playing in Raoul’s group Wednesday and I can tell you that if he dropped his ball out of his pocket, it only stood about a 50/50 chance of landing in-bounds. He hit some absolutely prodigious drives, but the rest of his game was an indescribable Armageddon, probably the result of having to hit his second shots with a ball that had one side flattened by the face of his driver.

So how do you account for Raoul Encinas’ Friday performance? He fired a net 58! That ties the lowest net score on record (for the past year). Laurence “The Hun” Rosen carded a 58 in late April just before mysteriously leaving the country for a few months. The probability of shooting net 58 with a 16 handicap was just under 5,000 to 1. That’s the second highest probability recorded in over 3,000 rounds (again behind “The Hun” Rosen). Encinas posted five net eagles and six net birdies as he inflicted his version of a slash-and-burn round on the Lakes/Dunes courses.

Jim Stamatis and Evan Carr each turned in net 63 to finish five strokes behind Encinas. (My best round in my last 115 efforts was a net 64; I wouldn’t have finished in the top three!) You can see Friday’s complete results here.

In the race to the Inferno Cup, Raoul and his teammates, Dave Inman, Steve King and Jim Woods picked up 50 points each. Woodsy now has a 20 point lead over his closest competitor, Mike Wentrup. Steve King and Dave Inman gained enough points to claim a third place tie, but they remain 60 points behind Woodsy. Current Inferno Cup standings and Friday’s match results are here.

Anthony Arvidson took low gross honors with a 67. Dave Inman finished second with a fine one-under-par 71. Raoul Encinas finished third in the gross division with a 75.

Updates on the Inferno Cup and on Canadian Water World

A home in Calgary this morning
A home in Calgary this morning

Many of our club members are residents of the Calgary, Alberta area. News reports this morning say that nearly 100,000 people in the Calgary area have been evacuated because of extreme flooding of the Bow and the Elbow Rivers. At the moment, none of our members are severely threatened by the flooding. Garry Warner, Chris Balakas, Rick Taylor and Jay Yourk all live far enough from the river to not be under threat. Good news from our Canadian friends.

Evan Carr takes low net
Evan Carr takes low net honors

Back in the land of the dry heat, Wednesday’s turnout for Inferno Cup competition was strong again. The team of Joel Temple, Jim Stamatis, George Stelmach and Dale Fitzhenry edged out Anthony Arvidson, Howard Jones, Pat Collins and Raoul Encinas to take the team game. When the dust had settled, Jim Woods and Mike Wentrup found themselves tied at the top of the chase for the Cup. Here are the complete Cup standings as of June 19th. The match results and skins haul can be found here.

Low Net

  1. Evan Carr – 65
  2. Robert Martz – 66
  3. Howard Jones – 67

Low Gross

  1. Anthony Arvidson – 68
  2. Robert Martz – 75
  3. Joel Temple – 78

Cup play picks up again today with a full field going at it on the Lakes/Dunes course.

The Inferno Cup – And an Update on the Tragedy of Kurt Saulnier

Anthony Arvidson Gross 65
Anthony Arvidson
Gross 65

I admit I’ve been a little remiss in my posts recently. Somehow, it’s a bit distracting to have your leg cut off. But here I am back at “work” bringing you up-to-date on the hunt for the Inferno Cup. The competition is fierce and the turnout has been exceptional. The average number of participants has nearly doubled over the same period last year.

Following yesterday’s round (June 14th), here are the standings for the Cup. Jim Woods leads the field with 160 points. Bruce Partridge is right on his heals with 150 and Mike Wentrup sits twenty points behind with 140 points. All three players have played in five events. Mike Nichols and Ken Vlah are each with 130 points having played in four and three events respectively. Click here to see the complete standings.

The Inferno Cup has been a big factor in changing the character of our golf group. Yesterday’s performance numbers prove the point. The “young bucks” like Rick May, Bryan Noonan, Drew Price and others have taken the performance standards at Gainey Ranch to a higher level. To illustrate the point, let’s look at the sad tale of Kurt Saulnier.

I had the good fortune of playing in Kurt’s group yesterday. I watched as he missed a two foot putt and his gross score ballooned to a 67 for the day. In days past, a gross 67 would have won low gross honors by a large margin and Kurt would have taken home more skins than Daniel Boone. Kurt was feeling pretty good in the Member’s Grill as we awaited the final cards. Anthony Arvidson’s card took Kurt out of first place. Arvidson had seven birdies and an eagle in route to a gross 65.

OK, Saulnier still had no reason to hang his head. His 67 would have him in first place at the U.S. Open after the first two rounds. But surely, his skin haul would be substantial.

Kurt Saulnier Gross 67
Kurt Saulnier
Gross 67

After all, seven birdies, five on the back nine alone, is nothing trivial. Birdie on #5 Arroyo a skin? Eric Nielsen, Bryan Noonan, Rick May and Dave Inman all walked on that one. Saulnier surely takes a skin with birdie on #8. “Not so” said Arvidson.  Fine, Saulnier birdies #10. So do Nielsen and May. Try a birdie on #11. Arvidson, Harold Hoeg and Rick May all said, “Not on my watch.” Saulnier comes again with a birdie on #14. Arvidson, Nielsen and Evan Carr all reject the attempt with birdies of their own. #15 then? “Sorry” say Ron Dobkin and Jim Woods. Finally, a birdie on #18 is rejected by May, Noonan and Bruce Partridge and one-upped with an eagle by Arvidson.

So in a nutshell, Kurt Saulnier posted what for about forty minutes was the lowest gross score ever recorded for the Kildare Group. When the dust settled, he had not won low gross honors. He had not won low net honors. He had not won a single skin. And in part thanks to getting paired with a cripple (me), his team barely managed a fourth place finish. This seems to be similar to registering with an online dating service and getting paired on a blind date with your ex-wife.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Here are complete scores for Friday’s match and the scores for the individual golfers.

And for those of you who might be curious as to why posts have been sparse, here’s an update on my recent experiences at “Olga’s Ouse of Orrors”.

A Report from Olga’s Ouse of Orrors

My Doctor
My Doctor

I’ve received a few comments about the scarcity of the website posts in the past four weeks. I’m guilty as charged. However, I should be close to being back on track. Admittedly, this post has little if anything to do with golf or the Gainey Ranch Men’s Golf Association, but to provide an explanation of my dereliction of duty, here’s the story. It is not for the faint-of-heart. If horror movies aren’t your cup-of-tea, you may want to back slowly away from your computer at this time, unplug it and turn tail and run. Otherwise, click “Read More”. Continue reading “A Report from Olga’s Ouse of Orrors”

Tomorrow’s Stars at Gainey Ranch Golf Club Next Week!

2012 Champs
2012 Champs

Here’s your chance to rub elbows with the greats like Tiger Woods, Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Bob Estes, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Lucas Glover, Bill Haas, J.B. Holmes, Charles Howell III, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Hunter Mahan, Steve Marino, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore, Sean O’Hair, Webb Simpson, David Toms, Bubba Watson, Mark Wilson and Scott Verplank. Note I said, “greats like”. I say that because all of the aforementioned golfers started playing in the American Junior Golf Association.

The AJGA is holding the Under Armor / Vicky Hurst Championship at Gainey Ranch Golf Club from June 9th – 13th. We’re looking for volunteers for player shuttle drivers, timing stations and more. Call the pro shop for more information on how you can become involved.

I volunteered last year and I’m doing it again this year. Not only was the time spent dedicated to a worthwhile cause, it was also a great show to watch. Watching 14 and 15 year old kids bring the course to its knees is a show worth watching. I’ve got some great memories of helping last year. Why not grab a few memories for yourself.  Here are more details. See you there.

MGA Report to Membership for the 2012-2013 Calendar Year

thumbsupThrough hard work and with a spirit of camaraderie and giving, the Gainey Ranch Golf Club’s Men’s Golf Association has completed a very successful year. A tip of the hat to all of you that have made the organization so worthwhile and important in our community. View the official report here.

The Battle for the Inferno Cup has been Joined!

Scott Thompson
Scott Thompson

The competition for the Inferno Cup was launched Friday, May 31st and continues through September. Thirty-five Gainey golfers seek the prizes. There were some fine scores posted, but with the rule of every ball hitting the bottom of the hole in place, there were also some rough holes reported. There were thirty triple-bogeys (or worse) on the day.

Kurt Saulnier and Bryan Noonan tied for low gross honors on the day, each carding a 72. Saulnier fired 34-38 on the Arroyo/Lakes courses while Noonan shot 38-34.

Ken Vlah
Ken Vlah

Fifty first place Cup points went to the team of Scott Thompson and Ken Vlah. Thompson turned in a respectable 78 gross while Vlah defied the odds with a net 63. The team of Bryan Noonan and Jim Woods staked its claim with a second place finish and forty points each. Mike Nichols and Steve King captured thirty points each. Dave Inman and Bruce Partridge went home with twenty points each and Kurt Saulnier pocketed the last ten points.

In the “day match” which included some players not participating in the Inferno Cup competition, the winning teams lined up with the Cup’s winning teams. However, there were some stand-out rounds turned in. In the net competition, Ken

Vlah and Mike Nysather tied for the lead with net 63. Nysather is the prodigal son of Gainey Ranch having been a member a couple years back and now joining again. Based upon his score (77 gross), there is speculation that his three year absence may have been due to his play on the European Tour. He should be in pretty good shape when he gets the bugs worked out of his swing.


Low Net

  • Ken Vlah, Mike Nysather – 63
  • Jim Woods – 64

Low Gross

  • Kurt Saulnier, Bryan Noonan – 72
  • Mike Nysather – 77

There were a total four net skins and eight gross skins. Rick May bagged two gross. Bryan Noon won two. Others went to Harold Hoeg, Kurt Saulnier, Sandy Wiener and Steve King. Net skins went to Mike Nysather (2), Vlah and King.

It will come as no surprise that holes #7 and #8 on the Lakes nine played the hardest for the field averaging “bogey and a quarter” for the day.