Welcome to the Mike Nichols Show

Nichols was on fire
Nichols was on fire

He was hot Wednesday capturing low gross honors. Who knew it was just the beginning? Mike Nichols brought Gainey Ranch’s Lakes/Dunes course to its knees Friday with his own version of a scorched earth policy. He shot a torrid 33 on the Dunes side with a birdie, an eagle and seven pars. He coasted after that and finished with a career best net 64 (gross 72) to take first place in both the gross and net brackets.

Low Gross

  1. Mike Nichols – 72
  2. Mike Miller and Joel Temple – 77

Low Net

  1. Mike Nichols – 64
  2. Skyler Irvine – 65
  3. Jim Gabriel – 67

Even with his record round and the fact that both the first and second place low net players were on his team, it wasn’t good enough to take first place in the overall match competition. The team of Jim Gabriel, Tom Hansen, Stephan King and Mike Miller claimed first place with a 128 score, two strokes better than the team of Nichols, Skyler Irvine, Scott Hull and Gary Graham.

The Inferno Cup race tightened up even more. Inman and Stamatis remain locked in a tie for first place, but Tom Hansen moved up from fourth to third place and now sits only twenty points behind the leaders. A half dozen players are fifty points or less from the top spot.

The course played to an average of 85.3 strokes and yielded 19 birdies and an eagle on the day. Joel Temple and the prodigal son, Cris Caruso accounted for six of the birdies between them.

A Tangle at the Top

Low Gross Winner Mike Nichols
Low Gross Winner Mike Nichols

Jim Stamatis won a tough match Wednesday against nearly two dozen competitors. In doing so, he climbed into a virtual tie with Dave Inman atop the Inferno Cup Leader Board with 430 points. Inman finished Wednesday’s round – a Modified Stableford format – in 18th place despite shooting a gross 78 on the Lakes/Dunes course combo. Dennis Kildare and Tom Hansen remained in a tie for third place after finishing 8th and 19th respectively in yesterday’s competition.

Six skins were divided up with two going to Jim Gabriel and one each being pocketed by Phil Graham, Bruce Partridge, Jim Stamatis and (will miracles never cease?) Howard Jones.

Mike Nichols watched as putt after putt hit the hole and came back out or stopped  an inch short, yet he still captured low gross with a 76. Chey Castro was right on his heels with a 77. The longest putt Nichols did make was about a 25 footer to cancel a nascent skin that had just been holed by his playing partner, Howard Jones. Jones’ other skin possibility held up when Nichols stroked his putt from off the 15th green and watched as it hit the pin squarely and bounced out of the hole with the shadow of the ball squarely in the bottom of the cup.

Low Gross

  1. Mike Nichols – 76
  2. Chey Castro – 77
  3. Jim Stamatis and Dave Inman – 78

Low Net

  1. Jim Gabriel and Jim Stamatis – 67
  2. Steve King and Mike Nichols – 68

The average score on the day was 86.3 with 76 on the low end and 105 on the other side. The owner of the 105 will remain a secret in exchange for a favor to be named later.

One Man’s Opinion – Don’t Post Scores for Others

Jones' Opinion
Jones’ Opinion

In the past, in an effort to assure a higher level of compliance with USGA handicap rules, team “captains” have been encouraged to post the scores of all members of their teams following golf rounds. Although the intent is noble, the result is not. Team “captains” should be encouraged to “encourage” teammates to post scores. If necessary, I have no problem with them yelling, berating and sarcastically demeaning their teammates to get them to post. Threats of physical violence are fine with me, but the individual players should post their own scores . . . post them correctly and post them all.  Here are my reasons.

  1. Page One of the USGA Handicap System manual couldn’t be any clearer. Two basic premises underlie the USGA Handicap System, namely that each player will try to make the best score at every hole in every round, regardless of where the round is played, and that the player will post every acceptable round for peer review. There are no provisions in the manual for surrogates, babysitters or house mothers. It’s the golfer’s responsibility – end of story.
  2. With captains or scorekeepers posting rounds, confusion and errors are inevitable. An increasing number of players prefer to post their own scores online. Without question there will be duplicate postings. Unfortunately, these duplicate postings are not always detected in a timely manner and having them eliminated is problematic. The golfer must call the club, explain the situation, ask that the duplicate be removed and hope that the process is completed successfully and without error. Also, it is not unreasonable to conclude that with human nature the way it is, some golfers’ abilities to detect and correct duplicates are no doubt greater when the scores are very low. High scores are going to be thrown out anyway aren’t they? Not exactly mathematically valid reasoning.
  3. The converse to #2 above is also true. If the golfer assumes the captain will be posting and the captain fails to post for whatever reason, a handicap lowering 75 may be overlooked and go unposted.
  4. Not all captains fully grasp the concept of equitable stroke control (ESC) and know how to properly apply it. Depending upon a golfer’s handicap range, he may not take a score above a certain number. When posting scores, adjustments MUST be made prior to posting. Otherwise, the handicap system does not function as intended. It is also true that the team captain has just arrived at the club house after a grueling round in 110° heat and has not only his own score to review for adjustments, he now has three other scores to check and double-check. He’s thirsty, damn thirsty and the Member’s Grill calls out his name. How much time and effort do you really think he’ll be investing in reviewing postings for ESC?
  5. The fifth and final reason for arguing against placing an intermediary in the posting process is perhaps the biggest one. It gives the “shady guys” (you know who you are) ground cover when they’re reviewed by the Handicap Committee. “Well, I didn’t post that score because the team captain was supposed to do it. It’s not my fault.” Yes it is. Read the USGA manual. But when we put the burden on someone else’s back, we confuse the situation at the least or worse yet, we give the bandits cover for their crimes of neglect or intent. And then we wonder why some guys seem to always play below their handicaps when the stakes are higher. Go figure!

In the past week, I’ve had one duplicate score posted by a team captain. It has been corrected, but not without spending a little time and a little effort. If the old system of captain postings remains in place, please take note of my personal request – DON’T POST MY SCORES. When I am a team captain, I will not post yours. I will give you your adjusted score and growl at you to post it yourself. If you don’t, shame on you. Perhaps I’ll see you in a meeting of the club’s Handicap Committee the week before one of our big tournaments.

A Big Friday at Gainey Ranch

It’s beginning to get crowded at the top of the Inferno Cup standings. After Friday’s round, Dave Inman, Jim Stamatis and Dennis Kildare remained in the first three places, but they’re definitely hearing footsteps. In all, seven players are within 100 points of the lead.

Steve King - Low Net Winner
Steve King – Low Net Winner

They must have figured out something that mystifies Steve King and Howard Jones both of whom claimed a third place finish Friday along with its 30 Cup points. They each fell one position in the standings. King is a C.P.A. and Jones is an engineer/mathematician. They looked so pensive as they stared at each other wondering what magical arithmetic system lets you win 30 points and fall in the standings. Their teammate, Raoul Encinas, also won 30 points and he moved up three places. Oh well – sometimes, life just ain’t fair.

Yesterday’s team winners were Tom Hansen, Dan Hourihan and Mike Miller. They needed a scorecard playoff to edge out Lee Barclay, Bruce Partridge and Jim Stamatis. Bruce is looking notably older after suffering another defeat. Encinas, Jones and King finished third. There were six forty-dollar skins paid, one each to Dennis Kildare, Scott Hull, Dave Inman, Jim Stamatis, Tom Hansen and Howard Jones (with a net “albatross” on the par five #5 Lakes).

Dave Inman has been on a terror and went low again Friday firing a gross 74 to take the honors. In the low net arena (also known as the banditos bracket), Steve King carded a net 65 to claim the honors.

Low Gross

  1. Dave Inman – 74
  2. Mike Miller – 77
  3. Steve King – 78

Low Net

  1. Steve King – 65
  2. Dan Hourihan – 66
  3. George Stelmach – 67

Following Friday’s regular play, the course was packed for the Yarnell Fire Golf Fundraiser. Golfers played a nine hole scramble and then enjoyed a magnificent reception.

Hot Shot survivor Brendon McDonough with Mike and Kathleen Forde and Liz McCarty
Hot Shot survivor Brendon McDonough with Mike and Kathleen Forde and Liz McCarty

All the major television stations and newspapers were present as Gainey Ranch G.C. general manager Jim Murphy presented the charity with a check for $100,000.00. Brendan McDonough, the lone survivor of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots was present as everyone honored his nineteen fallen comrades. Here’s the write-up in the Arizona Republic.

As a side note, one of the honored guests and contributors was John Gunby, the Head Golf Professional at Prescott Lakes Golf Club. As it turns out, John was one of the organizers of a tournament at White Mountain Country Club in Pinetop, Arizona exactly thirty years ago. It was in that tournament that I was randomly paired with a good looking young woman golfer named Liz McCarty. We ended up winning the tournament and collecting a very substantial sum of money. I refused to give her portion to her until she agreed to go to dinner with me. After holding out for two weeks, she finally agreed. Our 29th wedding anniversary is September 15th. When I realized John Gunby was in the room, I checked with my attorney and the statute of limitations has run out.

In Search of Miracles – July 31st

Jones Celebrates
Jones Celebrates

The voice of Natalie Wood, the child star of “Miracle on 34th Street” has echoed in my head for weeks. “I believe, I believe” she cried out resolutely. The only difference was that she believed in Santa Claus. I believed in getting a skin in the Kildare Group. Admittedly, the existence of Santa Claus seemed to have a much higher probability. But I’m here to tell you miracles do happen. I went home with two of them. Put down the beads brother; my prayers have been answered. Oops. Almost forgot – there were others out there playing too.

Wednesday’s match was a most interesting affair. Nine two-man teams competed in a best net ball format. One twist was that the teams weren’t selected until after the match had been completed. The computer button for team selection was pressed by Jim Stamatis. Yes, he and his partner Dan Hourihan finished with Inferno Cup points. The other twist was that each person on a team had to account for nine of the 18 holes in the best ball match. It was a creative and fun idea of Dennis Kildare. Eight out of the nine teams had no changes in their scores when compared to a normal best ball match. Only one team lost a stroke as a result of the nine hole requirement. Ironically, it was the team of Raoul Encinas and Dennis Kildare. They would have finished in a first place tie. But when each was forced to account for scores on nine of the holes, they lost one stroke which dropped them from first place into a second place tie. They lost the tie breaker and fell into third place. Ouch.

The match was won by the team of Bruce Partridge and Joel Temple. Coincidentally, Phil Graham ended up paired with his brother Gary and they took second place. Three hundred dollars were divvied up between six skins. Gary Graham, Tom Hansen, Raoul Encinas and Dan Hourihan took one each while Howard Jones grinned over two of them.

The individual play winners battled heat and humidity.

Low Gross

  1. Joel Temple – 76
  2. Dave Inman – 78
  3. Gary Graham and Mike Miller – 79

Low Net

  1. Raoul Encinas, Gary Graham and Bruce Partridge – 65

There were no changes at the top of the Inferno Cup standings with Inman, Stamatis, Kildare, Woods and Hansen hanging on to the top five spots respectively.