Don’t Jump! Life Is Worth Living!

hangmans-nooseI pen this missive to encourage today’s competitors to not commit suicide. Yes, it was horrible. Yes, you looked like someone that isn’t ready to play on the big course, like someone who should be sticking to the course where putting through the witch’s mouth is nirvana, where you’re a hero if your first shot gets past the blades of the windmill. Most of you (like I played well) should have been putting with a white cane rather than a $300 putter. But sometimes, that’s the way the cookie bounces. And besides, the way you played today, even if you tried to shoot yourself, you’d most likely miss anyway.

I am a mathematician. To me, statistics have always been more exotic that any porn I’ve yet to see. Today’s statistics were true hard core. Here they are!

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At first glance, they are merely numbers, cold, hard, uncaring numbers. But look closer. Note the following …

The average “differential” was 11.0. “Big deal,” you say? Consider this; the average differential is normally on the order of 3.0 strokes. As a group, we were nearly four times the average today.

The average score was 91.1. With the handicaps carried by the group, the average score should have been roughly 85. The average was six strokes higher than expected!

Under normal circumstances, the average score to handicap is plus three, i.e., three strokes over the difference between course rating and gross score. Generally, about one in five golfers will shoot his handicap or better.

Here are the facts …

No one, not a single golfer shot better than four strokes over handicap today. One golfer (name withheld to protect the guilty) shot 24 strokes over handicap. Another was 19 over handicap.

Why did this happen? Because the course (Padre) was in a bad, very, very bad, mood. The greens were lightning fast, the fairways were as receptive as my first wife with a headache, the wind was constantly changing. I haven’t seen the golf gods this pissed off in years.

Now the up-side …

Everybody had to compete on the same course. If you had a bad day, so did everyone else. The field was level. Quitcherbichen.

Many moons ago – in my days of climbing the big mountains – I learned  that when the mountain’s in a bad mood, she’s not going to have any guests. On other days, she embraces even the novice climbers. Such is the case with a golf course. The Padre was not accepting guests today. If you survived, you did well.

There were some great shots hit out there today. In fact, on one hole (#2), I had six of them.

Wednesday’s another day. Suck it up. Play well. The field is level. If it’s tough for you, it’s tough for everyone. Oh my! I say that, but I’m going to quit golf altogether if I don’t do better, a lot better.

Cooler Weather – Hotter Golf

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Ron Dobkin – eleven below handicap

It defied explanation. Fifteen Camelback golfers decided to bring their “A” games to the course all on the same day. Scores averaged more than three strokes below what would have normally been expected. Forty percent of the field posted scores in the 70s on the Ambiente course. Some golfers played very well; others played better than that.

Ron Dobkin rode his well-earned 21 handicap in route to a gross 79, net 58. He was eleven strokes under his handicap. It was his best round in two years. Interestingly enough, the competition was so tough that Dobkin’s net 58 only got his team a tie for second place. Regardless, it was a spectacular effort.

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Dr. Jack Summer – gross 71

Dr. Jack Summers took medalist honors with a fine one-under-par 71. Bob Ewing was another competitor carding a super round five strokes under his handicap. Seven of fifteen golfers shot below handicap. Statistically, a golfer normally shoots three strokes over handicap. I’m not sure what virus had infected the field, but if it could be bottled and sold, there would be an insatiable market.

Low Net

  1. 58 – Ron Dobkin
  2. 64 – Bob Ewing
  3. 65 – Jack Summers

Low Gross

  1. 71 – Jack Summer
  2. 72 – Matt Flores
  3. 76 – Mike Smothermon

It was indeed an unusual day. With only fifteen golfers, it’s notable there were twenty gross birdies. Every single hole on the front side yielded at least one birdie. The third hole gave up four of them. There were eleven net eagles and one net double-eagle. Ron Dobkin had a net one on the challenging ninth hole. More than eighty percent of the scores recorded were net pars or better. The average gross score was 82! If I were to pick one word to describe Wednesday’s play … Wow!

Monday’s Match – Something was Missing

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Joe Baldo – R.I.P.

We were on the Ambiente course for the first time in three weeks. We were reminded once again what a great layout it is and what a fabulous job the grounds crew does in maintaining the course. Mike Allison, John Raines and Howard Jones teamed extremely well together and ran away from the field to capture first place. Allison carded his finest round in two years, a net 62. Given his handicap, the course rating and slope, he put the dressing on a round of golf with a nearly 600 to 1 probability. Raines and Jones did their fair share, but Allison was the rock.

Low Net

  1. 62 – Mike Allison
  2. 66 – Howard Jones
  3. 70 – Jack Summers

Low Gross

  1. 77 – Jack Summers
  2. 79 – Howard Jones
  3. 82 – Mike Allison

Despite the enjoyable competition, there was something missing. Was it the missed putts? The missed fairways? No, this time it was something bigger – much bigger. We were missing the omnipresent smile of course ranger Big Joe Baldo. Joe died last Tuesday and will be missed by everyone who knew him. To honor Joe, the players in Monday’s group kicked in nearly $500 to be given to Joe’s favorite charity, Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix. We’ve got a great bunch of golfers in our group and their generosity is a welcome sign of their big hearts. Even though he was unable to play golf Monday, Pat Collins made a special trip to the course to make sure he contributed to honor Joe. We’re paying it forward in Joe’s name.

B’nai Mitzvah and Golf’s Moral Dilemmas

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Dr. John Raines ran away from the field

Alright – Let’s not kid around. It was an odd round of golf. Someone had rented the Lakeview Lodge building for a Bar Mitzvah. Apparently the proud father included a round of golf for a dozen or so young men who were in attendance. All would have been well had not these young men been in front of our group on the course. Most of them were horrible golfers and even if they could have found their errant shots, they would have taken forever to get around the eighteen hole course. One man was so bad, he hit his tee shot into the backyard of a house fronting the course. In of itself, that’s not that big a deal; I’ve done it myself. However, in this case, the house was immediately adjacent to the tee box. These guys were so bad, the validity of the Bar Mitzvah itself was in jeopardy. They’re supposed to begin when a Jewish boy reaches the age of accountability, thirteen. However, they’re supposed to end while the boy is still thirteen. There were times we wondered if the celebration was going to turn into his fourteenth birthday party. After nearly five hours, we finally finished the round.

I say “finished the round”, but that’s not entirely true. Bill Yarbrough had to leave after seventeen holes in order to make a dinner engagement. That leads me to the “moral dilemma”. Bill left his twenty dollar entry fee as he departed the course, but somehow, it just doesn’t seem right that I accept the fee. After all, he was deprived of the joy of playing the full five hour round and finishing in the near darkness. Don’t you agree that I should return his twenty dollars to him? Never mind the fact that his team prevailed and captured $160 in first place money. Pay no heed to the fact that Dr. Yarbrough also won thirty dollars’ worth of skins. What’s right is right. I’ll return his twenty dollars the next time I see him. I’ll take it out of the seventy dollars I have in my pocket.

Meanwhile, back on the golf course … The team of Dr. Jack Summers, Dr. Bill Yarbrough, Dr. John Raines and Dr. Marshall Block apparently healed themselves and beat the second place team by eleven strokes. No hard feelings there (I was on the second place team).

No doubt in large part due to the interminably slow play, few golfers performed well. With but one exception, no one shot his handicap. However, John Raines clearly didn’t get the memo. He finished his round with a bogey and still shot six strokes below his handicap with a gross 77.

Low Gross

  1. 77 – John Raines
  2. 80 – Jack Summers
  3. 81 – Tom Postorino

Low Net

  1. 64 – John Raines
  2. 68 – Mike Forde
  3. 72 – Pat Collins

The course played tough with the average scores falling more than seven strokes over handicap. Of the birdies that were cards, nearly half of them fell on either the seventh or thirteenth holes. There were no birdies on the eighteenth hole and only five pars. I’m sure that had nothing to do with the fact that the photographer working the Bar Mitzvah kept running out onto the eighteenth green trying to take pictures while members of our group had the audacity to try to play the hole.

Enjoy a few photos of the competitors.

Friday, September 30th – A War of Attrition

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Joe Busch finished on top

The Padre course was tough on the field. Of the survivors, no one shot better than two strokes above handicap. The weather was warm, but the course was in good shape. Bob Joselyn didn’t finish after the heat seemed to take its toll. Bill Yarbrough had to retire after nine holes after suffering a back injury. Looking at the scores, it appears to have been a hard day for everyone including the finishers.

Joe Busch drew Lee Mitchell as his blind draw and they finished at the top of the pack. Howard Jones ended up with a blind draw of Howard Coren. They shared second place with the team of Stu Gilman and Howard Coren. Yes, Howard Coren won second place – twice!

Low Net

  1. 69 – Joe Busch
  2. 72 – Maddie Levy and Howard Coren

Low Gross

  1. 75 – Stu Gilman
  2. 78 – Tom Pastorino
  3. 81 – Jack Summers

Before talking about the payouts, let’s review the rules as they have existed for a number of years. In the event of an error in the score calculations or payments of prize money, the error – by definition – ceases to be an error as the competitors leave the scorer’s table. The computer used to determine winners and losers suffered from a battery failure and skins were determined quickly by eye. (Remember the “old days”?) As you can see looking at the final results, thirteen skins were paid. “By definition” (we’re no longer at the table), that is the correct number of skins. However, had the computer been up and running, there would have been only ten skins. As it turned out, Mike Allison, Bob Joselyn and Joe Busch each were paid for a skin that wasn’t actually earned. Congratulations. That’s a “rub of the green”.

Of note:

Stu Gilman carded an eagle on the par five thirteenth hole. There were eleven birdies or better on the round, five of which were contributed by Gilman and Joe Busch.

The question of poor play relative to handicap is partially attributable to the warm conditions, but there no doubt is more to consider. We played from the yellow (forward) tees yesterday. The grounds team at Camelback has been more conscientious in recent months when placing the yellow tees. The course has been setup with the tee placements closer to where they were when it was rated, i.e., in the correct positions. A review of the past 600 rounds of golf played on the Padre course show that the average to handicap from the yellow tees has been two and a quarter strokes higher than when playing from the white (middle) tees. The implications of this fact are varied and significant, but to summarize them … it’s not to your advantage to play a course that is made easier than it should be. Camelback staff is to be commended for making the course play properly.

The Camel Cup is on Loan

2016-camel-cup-5-of-16It came down to the last putt in the very last match of the day. With the first sixteen players resting after a day of spirited competition, the match was deadlocked. When Scott Hull knocked in his final putt on the eighteenth hole, it gave his team an 8-to-7 victory and possession of the Camel Cup. The boys of Gainey Ranch Golf Club defeated the team from Camelback Golf Club by the narrowest of margins.

Although a short par four hole, #14 sits atop of small plateau and is well guarded by five sand traps, it can be a tough hole to play.  Getting the ball close to the hole on the second shot is a challenge. Nonetheless, Rick Brown, Brian Dunigan, Harold Hoeg and Vinny Sollitto all carded birdies on the hole. Brown, Hoeg and Sollitto had three birdies each in the round.

Certainly, one of the more exciting matches involved that between Mike Forde and Bruce Partridge on the par five #13 hole. Both were in the fairway after respectable drives. Many of the next fourteen strokes were more exciting. When the dust (and weeds and dirt and bird feathers and water splashes) had settled, Forde denied Partridge victory by running in a long putt for a triple-bogey. They tied the hole and the match. The competition remained at a feverish pitch until the last putt was missed on #18. Most other matches had to have been drab by comparison.

The Ryder Cup format seemed to be a big hit with everyone, especially the winners. Two man teams competed in head-to-head match play for one point on the front nine. Individuals then went mano-a-mano on the back nine for two more points. Gainey Ranch team captain Mike Nichols seems to be enjoying having possession of the Cup. The Camelback boys encourage him to relish the opportunity because they plan on bringing it home very soon.

Enjoy some images of the competitors.