On Hoeg, Hawks, Partridge and Other Birds of Prey

The HawkI’m not saying some of the guys were looking a little peaked as they finished up eighteen holes of golf in 112° temperatures. I’m sure it was just coincidence that large, meat eating raptors starting hanging around the greens. The one shown here was perched about ten feet over my head as I prepared to miss a two foot par putt on #17 (#8 Lakes). The bird seemed more disappointed than was I when I mustered enough energy to walk off the green under my own power. Temperatures and golf scores both soared as the afternoon ebbed on.

Speaking of hawks, eagles and vultures, Harold Hoeg and (in his first match in six weeks) Bruce Partridge survived the heat to claim victory. They finished in first place a full six strokes in front of their closest competitors. Jason Sample and Jim Gabriel hung on to finish second, one stroke ahead of Ron Dobkin and Patrick Sheehan.

Harold Hoeg was medalist on the day with a gross 73. Between the heat and having to drag Partridge, it was a herculean effort on Hoeg’s part. His gross score was better than his partner’s net score, but they shared first place Inferno Cup points nonetheless. Surprisingly, it was Partridge’s only first place finish of the season. I hope he bought Harold a drink afterward.

HoegLow Gross

  1. Harold Hoeg – 73
  2. Kris Rosser – 77
  3. Bill Petsas and Patrick Sheehan – 82

Low Net

  1. Harold Hoeg – 68
  2. Jim Gabriel – 70
  3. Patrick Sheehan – 71

There was only one change in the Inferno Cup top ten. Jim Gabriel moved up from twelfth to ninth place. Now that we’re midway through the season, some players have already played the minimum fourteen rounds. This means that there is a minimum number of points those players must earn in a match in order to make any difference to their totals. It should start bunching up at the top as the season wears on. Here are some of the competitors that have their fourteen minimum in the books and the number of points they must earn in a match to improve their point totals. Bailey Ogrin (24), Dan Hourihan (11), George Stelmach (39.8), Howard Jones (56.2), Jim Gabriel (2.5), Kris Rosser (5.3), Scott Hull (54.9) and Tom Hansen (31.2). All other competitors will still be racking up points whenever they tee off in a Cup event.

Rory McIlroy to Play in Inferno Cup Event! No, Really . . . Sort of . . .

roryThe Inferno Cup joins forces with the PGA Tour (without the PGA’s knowledge of course) to play in the “PGA Gainey Challenge” event Saturday and Sunday August 9th-10th. Normally, Saturday morning play is Inferno Cup eligible. This time, Saturday and Sunday will qualify for the points.

Pick your partner and have fun with this great event. You can pick a fellow Inferno Cup player or a non-Cup player. You can even bring a guest and still participate in the event AND earn your Inferno Cup points.

Here’s how it works . . .

Friday, August 8th – 6:30 p.m. – SELECTION PARTY

The teams meet in the Member’s Grill where they select two players from those that have made the cut in the PGA Championship. They are now on your team for the next two days. The combined scores of the four of you determine your finish in the event.

Saturday, August 9th – 7:30 a.m. – SHOTGUN START

Teams tee it up in a best-ball format. The event will be followed by a buffet lunch and the scoring party.

Sunday, August 10th – 7:30 a.m. – SHOTGUN START

The final round will be played using a two-man scramble format. These finishes are always fun and exciting. Another magnificent buffet lunch and scoring party will follow. My partner and I will graciously accept the first place awards and give a tip of our hats to the second place and following teams.

Let’s support the club in this one and show them we appreciate all they do for us. Email InfernoCup@GaineyGolf.org if you’re looking for a partner. I’m playing, but second place will still be available.

Here’s a link to the flyer put out by the club.

Meet Kris Rosser . . .

Kris RosserThirty-seven year old Kris Rosser is another one of the young guns at Gainey Ranch. He sports a Handicap Index just north of 3.0, but wants to improve his game. He’s a true competitor so for those who would question his ability to get even better, I suggest keeping your wallet at home when you do.

Kris and his wife Cindy have been married four years this month. They came to Arizona two days after they were married. Kris was transferred to Phoenix by his employer Con-way Freight where he is an Account Executive.

Kris is a native of Michigan (a “Michigander”) and grew up in the Tawas City area. For those of you not familiar with how we Michiganders show you where a town is, I’m pointing to my left hand down near the first knuckle on my index finger. If you still don’t know where Tawas City is, ask Kris and he’ll point to his left hand and the base of his index finger. The Rosser family has lived in central Michigan for many generations. Some are still expert in the use of snow shovels; others live in Arizona.

Kris has a degree in Business Administration from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. Sadly, Kris is a fan of the Michigan Wolverines, the second best college football team in the state. There’s still time for him to reform and “see the light” and we certainly have enough Michigan State Spartans at the club to enlighten him. He’s a fan of the Detroit Tigers (will this be the year?) and the Detroit Lions (this won’t be the year).

Kris loves the game of golf. Like so many of us, he finds it the challenge that can’t be mastered – a test of physical skill, mental discipline and one’s ability to persist. Welcome Kris to the club when you see him around. He’s an affable, friendly and warm hearted guy. He is one of the new faces that make Gainey a great place to play the game.

Hey! It Happens. (Again)

Jones - Always Fashion Conscious
Jones – Always Fashion Conscious

Howard Jones raised some eyebrows by shooting a 75 Friday on the Lakes/Dunes course – a nearly 600-to-1 odds round with his 12.8 handicap index. He came back the next morning to shoot a 76 on the tougher Arroyo/Lakes course – the odds for which are 770-to-1. When asked how he could explain such outstanding back-to-back performances, Jones cited using Rory McIlroy’s “process” swing thought, a recovering knee and a lack of supervision. He grabbed first place in the day’s Inferno Cup match barely edging James Wexler by six strokes and Kris Rosser by seven. Jones is somewhat distraught in the realization that with his recent performances, his handicap will be falling by about two strokes and he won’t have a ghost’s chance in hell of winning anything for a couple of months.

Low Net

  1. Howard Jones – 62
  2. James Wexler – 66
  3. Mike Nichols – 68

Low Gross

  1. Kris Rosser – 72
  2. Mike Nichols – 75
  3. Howard Jones – 76

With the victory, Jones knocked Bailey Ogrin out of first place in the standings. Rosser passed George Stelmach into sixth place and Wexler clawed his way into eighth place jumping five spots in the standings. The average score turned in by Inferno Cup competitors was 84.7 with #7 Lakes reclaiming its title as toughest hole in the field.

Hey! It Happens.

Ron Dobkin and Howard Jones paired up Friday to annihilate the field so completely that even the descendants of General George Custer pleaded for mercy. Two man teams counted both balls in a Modified Stableford format under sunny skies. After nine holes, Jones mentioned to Dobkin that the sixteen points they have already accumulated usually provided an adequate margin for victory given the match format. They were looking pretty strong even if they earned no points on the back nine. Unfortunately for the field, they piled up sixteen more points. Had the second place team (Gary Graham and Ken Vlah) been allowed to take all the points from the third place team (Don Fruchtman and Kris Rosser) and add them to its score, Jones and Dobkin still would have won the match.

Howard Jones and Ron Dobkin - No Mercy
Howard Jones and Ron Dobkin – No Mercy

They accomplished their feat by having Dobkin shoot a net 70 while Jones recorded (and posted) a net 61 (gross 75). It was his best round since demolishing his knee nearly two years ago.

Low Net

  1. Howard Jones – 61
  2. Kris Rosser and Gary Graham – 68

Low Gross

  1. Kris Rosser – 72
  2. Howard Jones – 75
  3. Gary Graham – 80

The victory gave Jones enough Inferno Cup points to jump Scott Hull and move into second place in the run for the Cup. Bailey Ogrin still holds a slim lead while he does battle with Pebble Beach, but he’d better hurry home if he wants to keep it.

Course conditions continue to improve. With continued moisture, we should be getting back to our “expected” condition, i.e. good fairways and clean greens. Average score for the round on the Lakes/Dunes course – 86.9. The title of toughest hole for the round fell on #4 Lakes. The par 3 hole played at 1.14 strokes over bogey. Believe it or not, less than a quarter of the field had par or better on the hole.

It Was a Dry Heat – Well, Actually . . . No, It Wasn’t.

It seemed this hot by the end of the round.
It seemed this hot by the end of the round.

Gainey golfers endured some serious heat (110° F/43° C) Wednesday the 23rd and no one perished. That’s the good news. Some of us suspected we might and we were thrilled when we finally found the Member’s Grill at the end of the round. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and fortunately, it was a lite beer. The bad news is – we get to do it again Friday. However, there is a major cold front that will descend upon Gainey Friday and the high temperature is only expected to be 107°. Sweater sales should increase in the pro-shop.

Nichols winsMike Nichols used his experience in the proverbial hot-seat to claim another victory. With three birdies and an eagle on his card, he turned in an even par 72 to edge Mike Miller by two strokes. Nichols also claimed low net honors just edging out George Stelmach who has been on his own personal terror lately posting some great scores.

Low Gross

  1. Mike Nichols – 72
  2. Mike Miller – 74
  3. Bailey Ogrin – 77

Low Net

  1. Mike Nichols – 65
  2. George Stelmach – 66
  3. Mike Miller – 67

It should come as no surprise then that the team with Nichols and Stelmach on board also won the team game. If you’ve been following the Inferno Cup, it will also come as no surprise that Dale Fitzhenry managed to get on the same team with two of the hottest golfers in the field. “Fitzhenry” comes from the old Irish word meaning, “picks good partners often”. Even though he finished five strokes over his handicap, Fitzhenry jumped from eleventh place to seventh place in the Inferno Cup standings. Mike Miller, Rickie Currens and Skyler Irvine took second place while Bailey Ogrin, José León and Gary Graham escaped with third place. One stroke separated each of the three teams.

The condition of the golf course continues to improve and none too soon. I watched Tom Hansen miss a twenty-inch putt when it took a fifteen degree turn at the ten inch mark. If he had made the putt, my team would have finished only nine shots behind the leaders. Damn, he cost us the match.

Meet Bailey Ogrin – Related to Frank Lloyd Wright

Bailey - Age 23
Bailey – Age 23

Even though Bailey is one of our new members, most of us already know Mr. Ogrin. His first tournament was the Club Championship. He won it. He also currently sits on top of the Inferno Cup standings. If this were a foot race, no one would recognize Bailey because he’s usually so far out in front, all competitors would see would be his back.

I’ve had the pleasure of playing with Bailey a few times and have learned much about his secret to golf success. If you consistently hit the ball straight and a long damn way, if you putt so that most shots go into the hole, if you chip like a demon, if you stay calm and focused, frankly, the game of golf isn’t all that tough. Despite what we’ve all seen, Bailey is (or at least used to be) human. A mere five years ago, Bailey carded a round that included six bogeys, six double-bogeys and a quintuple bogey. He had to rally to keep his score in double-digits. This was on Oak Grove Golf Club, a 6,625 yard course in Illinois. I’m betting even Bailey was in a bad mood after that one.

Ogrin blueWe now know that with discretion being the better part of valor, it’s not wise to tangle with Bailey on the golf course unless you’ve brought your “A” game. But if you’re really feeling good about your game, you might consider tangling with Amy, Bailey’s wife. She’s only a stroke or two out of single-digit handicap range herself. If I get lucky and don’t get caught cheating, I suspect I can beat her at least half the time.

Amy and Bailey live in Mesa. They’re headed for the central coast of California next week to play a ho-hum little golf course called Pebble Beach. Bailey graduated from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay with majors in Finance and Accounting. He does have the good sense to not be an avid Packer’s fan. He is a “Medical Device Representative” with Smiths Medical, a Fortune 100 company traded on the London Exchange.

When not working, Bailey tries to stay active. He plays softball in a couple of beer leagues in Tempe. He also gets plenty of exercise hauling golf trophies around the house.

Bailey’s path to Arizona was one that’s very familiar to many of us. At the end of his fourth consecutive day of shoveling snow at his house in Chicago, he said to himself, “This is April. There’s got to be a better way.”

Bailey views golf as an escape. It’s a trip into an alternate reality where life’s real challenges are temporarily suspended. Although he played high school golf in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, he didn’t really start honing his golf skills until after he left college. He has never taken a lesson. His skills have been sharpened by good old fashioned hard-work. He puts in the time and effort to improve and lo and behold, he improves. The harder you work, the luckier you get.

Bailey offers an interesting bit of golf philosophy when he says, “We all beat ourselves up over the bad shots, but we don’t take the time to celebrate the good ones. They can’t all stay out.”

Oh, yes – almost forgot. You may be wondering how Bailey is related to Frank Lloyd Wright. In June of 2009, Bailey played in the Wisconsin State Amateur Qualifying Tournament at Johnson Park Golf Course in Racine, Wisconsin. The course was built by Sam Johnson of Johnson’s Wax fame. Sam’s headquarters were designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. There you have it – Bailey’s almost a direct descendant of one of the most famous architects in history. And you thought he was only a golfer.

The King is Dead – Long Live the King – Saturday Green

Gary Graham-2
Gary Graham lights it up!

Until today, Scott Hull hasn’t been out of first place in the Inferno Cup standings for nearly a month. However, after shooting a one-under par 71, Bailey Ogrin completed his climb to the top of the leaderboard. He knocked Hull out of first when he and his teammate, Howard Jones, took top honors in Saturday’s Inferno Cup competition. With both balls counting on the three pars and a best net ball counting on all other holes, Ogrin and Jones beat the team of Rick Hurula and Gary Graham by two strokes. Ogrin’s 71 paired well with Jones’ 79. Gary Graham turned in a super round of an even par 72 while Hurula shot a solid 80. For the second consecutive Saturday, Dale Fitzhenry rode a horse named Ogrin as his blind draw and finished in third place.

Graham’s even par round was a roughly two-thousand-to-one odds performance. He birdied #8, #9 and #18 to offset three bogeys. He ran away with low net honors. With only three appearances in Inferno Cup events so far, it looks like Graham is poised to make his move.

Low Grossvans-logo

  1. Bailey Ogrin – 71
  2. Gary Graham – 72
  3. Bill Petsas and Mike Miller – 77

Low Net

  1. Gary Graham – 61
  2. Howard Jones – 65
  3. Bailey Ogrin – 67

With so many hot sticks on the Lakes/Dunes course, the average gross score was under 85 for the first time in a while. As might be expected, #7 Lakes played the toughest. It was the only hole on the course with an average of over bogey . . . and at 5.4 strokes, it was well over bogey. With the recent rains, there are signs the course is beginning its resurgence. The greens were ever so slightly friendlier, but still not overly hospitable.

July 18th – Nichols is Rock Steady

Nichols was on fire
Nichols was on fire

Don’t get near this. It’s too hot to touch. Mike Nichols lit it up from shooting an even par 72 from the championship tees on the Lakes/Dunes course. Imagine what it would have been had the greens arrived from their repackaging trip to weather city. Nichols carded a couple of bogeys but covered them up with birdies on the eleventh and fourteenth holes to top the field in both the net and gross categories. Bailey Ogrin continued his assault on the Inferno Cup by finishing one stroke back with a 73. Kris Rosser hung back in third with a 76. That was some fine golf in less than ideal conditions.

Low Gross

  1. Mike Nichols – 72
  2. Bailey Ogrin – 73
  3. Kris Rosser – 76

Low Net

  1. Mike Nichols – 62
  2. Bailey Ogrin – 66
  3. James Wexler – 67

For those of you experiencing a WTF moment wondering how Nichols and Ogrin ended up with ten and seven handicaps respectively, allow me to explain. Most participants played from the green tees, hence the greens were the “base case” tees. When Nichols and a few others elected to play from the back tees, their handicaps had to be “slope adjusted” and then increased by the difference in course ratings between the green and gold tees. Nichols went from a seven to a ten. Had he been playing the gold as the “base tees”, he would have had a seven handicap and his net would have been 65. Ogrin would have been a four and had a 69 net. But when different players compete from different tees in the same competition, handicaps are calculated in a different manner.

Partridge grinsNichols jumped from tenth place all the way into fifth place in the Inferno Cup picture with his first place finish. Ogrin took over second place. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy facts is that another Cup event has passed without Bruce Partridge winning a skin. Rumor has it that Partridge has totally forgotten how to play golf during his time in Newport Beach, California. But it doesn’t matter. Those of us that knew him before he disappeared knew that he didn’t know how to golf in the first place. But we still expect him to win a skin or two in his absence.

Vincent Bugliosi, Helter Skelter and The Inferno Cup

After participating in the mob action called the Inferno Cup competition on July 16th, I’m confident Vincent Bugliosi will be arriving soon to begin work on his next book. Most of you know he was the author of Helter Skelter, the book about Charles Manson and his clan. And the Sea Will Tell is about a guy who lived in Arizona for a while and made Manson look like a door-to-door missionary. If Bugliosi’s books are about the bizarre and warped parts of society, you know he’ll be writing about Wednesday’s round. Let’s set the scene.

HelterSkelterMike Nichols picked the game. Mike is a direct descendant of the Marque de Sade. He wears leather golf shorts when not playing at Gainey Ranch and when he misses a putt has been known to self-flagellate with a sixteen foot leather whip. Fortunately, he rarely misses putts so not many of us have seen him do it. The game was . . . two man teams, scramble on the front nine with a minimum of three drives per player. The back nine was a best ball of the two man team. Anyone scoring worse than a par on the scramble side was compelled to mix pond water with hemlock and slug it down. Tough round!

There were some good shots and some bad shots (Helter Skelter). There were some good putts and some bad putts (Death Wish II). The crime scene investigators concluded that Jim Gabriel and Tom Swan won the event. Skyler Irvine and Jason Sample lurked in the shadows one stroke back. Dan Hourihan and Dennis Kildare were a stroke back of them. José Leon and Kriss Rosser arrived a stroke behind them. Howard Jones and Ken Vlah were (you guessed it) one stroke back. The confederacy of thieves had honed their trade so well, they out-hustled each other by only one stroke. The Inferno Cup points awarded resulted in a tightening of the standings and gave further fodder for Bugliosi’s next book.

Speaking of books . . ., well, we’ll talk soon enough.