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.

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”.

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.