This will be the PG-17 version of the stated title above. Besides playing in the inaugural Big Stakes held in Nevada many years ago, with a $2,000,000 first place prize, I have never played golf for big money before. My typical games are $20 3 ways, or sometimes even $200 three ways.
With the upcoming weather report finally showing some rain for 7 days in a row in the Bay Area, I decided to bolt to Palm Desert for some golf in prefect weather. I have an old friend that I’ve not seen in 17 years that is always extending me an invitation to come and stay with him. I finally took him up on his offer, and hopped a United flight from SFO to Palm Springs, not knowing that Southwest flew from Oakland non-stop to Palm Springs for half the price.
Upon my arrival my long lost friend of 17 years scooped me at the airport, and off to his 3/4 acre estate in Indian Wells we went. I had my own amazing casitas to my disposal, and one oof his Mercedes to drive during my visit. Since our dinner plans were coming fast he suggested we have a glass of white wine before heading to the restaurant. The interesting thing was that I had never seen him drink before, when I knew him 25 years ago, he was off the booze for ten years. I respected his restraint and ability to resist drinking as I heard it was a problem. in his past. However now, he was in full tilt back drinking. I do enjoy an occasional glass of wine, or some good whiskey.
After a few glasses of white, we headed to a great place in Indian Wells that had just reopened the day before. We had two of his friends join us and quickly we were drinking some amazing pink champagne, followed by two bottles of delicious red wine. Our after dinner drink was sambuka which I probably spelled wrong here.
He was a gracious host and picked up the tab, probably $600-$700 range. We headed back to his place feeling no pain, and started in on the Tequila mixed with some sweet mixer, and that went on for 4 hours and through two bottles of Tequila. The music and dancing around the kitchen was fun, until I realized I had my first of many money games lined up at the Hideaway.
Throughout the night my cotton-mouth hit me hard, I had not been drinking anything close to this in 30 years. I felt terrible upon finally waking and trying to walk in a straight line to the bathroom. My game was in two hours and I needed to find some balance and equilibrium.
At the Hideaway I met up with some old friends I had not seen in many many years, and 5 of us played a game that had two players agains the other three paired up in teams. We had a point game and other things I didn’t pay attention to. I was in great fear of losing more than what I had in my pocket and felt like Lee Trevino playing for $100 with only a $5 bill in his pocket. The difference of course is I don’t possess Lee’s game.
My saving grace was that one player that never was on my team, had one of the worst games of his life and threw the party. My horrible 79 playing as a zero I thought was going to cost me $2K-$5K. But once it was all tallied up, I won $1970. I was shocked and more relived than anything. Unfortunately that was the last game with that group of guys.
What I then quickly learned was don’t head into a golf gambling town with a +2 handicap and play unfamiliar courses for big money. Yes the drinking continued for a few more days, and it was costly. The next big game was held at the Palms, were legendary games for big money are played. I was playing with a good friend of mine vs 3 other players, all getting lots of strokes in a match play style game. Keep in mind, when playing match play, you can never give a player all his handicap shots, as each par he makes on a stroke hole needs to be matched by a natural birdie.
My hangover of a week was not helping my putting, and I missed 2 footer and 2 footer, each costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars. After 18 holes at the Palms, we found ourselves down $12,000. An emergency nine was played getting us to +1 with one hole to go, the tough par 4 ninth hole with a drive over a creek out about 240 yards. All we needed to do was ONE of us to fly the creek, as we were playing a scramble format. Just making a par on the hole would earn back the $12,000 plus get us an additional $3000. But NO, we both hit our tee shot in the creek, and made a scramble bogey to let them off the hook.
The next day we had a 3 up lead with 5 holes to go with a match and stroke play bet of $1000 5 ways. We again lost 3 holes in a row, lost the gross bet and tied the match bet going deeper into the hole.
At this point I was thinking what the hell was I doing here, playing these sharks on their home turf with a handicap that clearly I cannot play too. I decided that if I had a chance to make a comeback I needed to stop drinking all together, and get some good rest and focus on playing good golf. After getting scalped the strokes given came down and slowly we notched some wins against the same guys we’d been playing.
Another new friend of mine got us on The Plantation another great course with lots of great players that will scalp you on their home course. We had a game with three guys I didn’t know, and quickly they looked up my handicap and said, “oh Randy is a plus 2, so we will play off his handicap” what that really means is a 5 handicapper get 7 shots, and then he said “oh we are playing the back tee combo, so I get two more strokes or 9 shots”. Well guess what, if you are a plus 2, you don’t get that adjustment of two extra shots for playing the back tees. And the beatdown was on. We played Wolf, and it was an utter joke. My friend that invited me played to a zero and got ZERO points in a wolf game, which is almost impossible. Me, I got a whopping 2 points, and they emptied our wallets, with no remorse at all. The guy that was a 5 handicapper that got nine shots actually beat both of us scratch with a 73. I would guess that score will never be posted.
Complaining about this will get you no-where, the handicap system is a joke, as you can be what ever handicap you want by posting fictitious score on the GHIN website. Tournament players cannot do that, as then they will have a handicap that’s two high to enter the top amateur and open events. So a sand bagger typically does not play in scratch events, as that would expose them.
After my ass whooping at the Plantation it was Super Bowl time, and I’ve made the mistake of betting against terrific Tom in the past, but not this time. I had Tampa Bay and the under in this one, and enjoyed a nice W that helped move me out of the deep hole I was in on the golf course.
Since I didn’t buy a return ticket home, I decided I would stay in this perfect 80 degree weather with light winds and try to fiddle down my deficit. Three more games occurred, and on the last hole of the last round I played, I had a 6 foot birdie putt for $6000. By now, this was starting to be the norm, but still challenging for a guy that doesn’t know if he’s putting with eyes open or eyes closed right before the putter goes back. I missed the putt, but still ended my 18 day trip dead even. It was a brutal rollercoaster and taught me many lessons.
Number one, I did finally post all those high rounds I played and my handicap has gone from a +2 to a 1. It actually should be a 2 right now, but I have events that require a 1 handicap or less to enter. Number 2, never play someone for big money that you don’t know well, or that your playing partner doesn’t know well. Number 3, always allow for an adjustment after nine holes, or have time for an emergency nine. Number 4, never play for more than what you have in your pocket (or in the bank) as it will cause additional stress and pressure. And finally Number 5, playing a guy on his home course is a mistake, at least do a home and home to equal the playing field.
Not sure how many people will provide such graphic details of an ass whooping, but the hope is that I will now be better for it going into my 4 tournaments, which I will post on soon.
I have finished the first one in Tampa Florida at the Gasparilla held at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club. Caught the tough weather side of the draw playing late on day one, and then early in the rain on day two. I grinded my guts out trying to make the cut. I made a late birdie on my 16th hole and then made a 10 foot par save on the 17th hole. I knew I was right on the cut line, and hit a prefect tee shot on my last hole, the short 15th hole. I had 90 yards left to the pin, but noticed I was in the middle of a huge sand filled divot. I took one extra club and hit the shot fat, onto the front fringe, and then watched it roll back down the hill and into the Lake. At that moment I knew all the grinding, the flight across the county, the hotel bill, food and travel expenses were for not. This can be a cruel sport, and that bad luck on the final hole cost me the opportunity to play the next day in perfect weather and advance my WAGR ranking which is currently 28th in the world (for seniors over 55). The top 25 WAGR ranked seniors will get an exemption into the USGA Senior Am, which is the goal. However that one chunked shot will move me backwards.
Stay tuned for the JONES CUP in beautiful Sea Island GA
In further clarifying what I understand to be the situation with what I had written earlier here is some additional or edited info:
The USGA and Royal & Ancient have a very challenging task of protecting the game of golf on all ends and fronts. On my earlier blog post I did not want to lead anyone into believing that any decision was made, nor that any opinions had been formed by anyone.
Your feedback and comments were much appreciated, and it clearly shows the passion we all carry for the game we love.
Since I began golfing at age 6, the game has evolved in so many ways. I can remember the days when I used to re-varnish my old Olimar wooden headed driver and 3 wood. The head was tiny and the sweet spot very small. The old balata balls would curve so much more than the ball today. Which was a better era for the club and the ball now with the distance and less curve, or back in the day when you could hit huge slices and hooks?
My personal bottom line is that I trust the USGA, I always have. I think golf is in very good hands, and I am confident that you all will be pleased and support what our governing golf association does.
Up next 2021, how to play your best golf
The month started with a BANG, in the highly competitive Olympic Club two man championship, which we finished right before San Francisco, and California once again shut everything down.
I had a bit of a dilemma when the tournament was announced to be held on December 4th and 5th (Friday and Saturday) as I had planned to play in two tournaments starting on the 6th, and needed to fly to Florida on the 5th at 1:40. I knew that we would not be finished with the last round until after noon, making it impossible to catch my flight if I played.
Since I have played and won the event prior with my good friend and great player Kory Storer, I wanted to play and thought about options. Then my regular best ball partner super-star and two time NCGA Player of the year Jason Anthony, asked me also to play in the OC best ball. I knew that if I let the two of them pair up (which was their plan if I didn’t play) I would never get either of them back as they would never lose.
So of course I agreed to play, not fully disclosing to Kory that at about 12:20 on the 5th I would be racing off the course and to SFO nearby to hopefully make my flight.
The quick summary of the event, Kory and I busted out of the gates with a flurry of birdies (mostly Kory) and shot -5 on the front nine of the Ocean course. But the came Jason and his partner the very talented and past SF city champion Stephen Sparolini. With an ending bogey they shot -6 on the day with us one shot back at -5.
On Saturday I informed Kory that I would be bolting at 12:20, and with a 9:00 tee time and the pace of play rather slow, was easily going to leave him alone to play at least 4 or even maybe 5 holes. My hope was that we would be either 4 shots up, or 4 shots down leaving my early departure a moot point.
We got off to a CRAZY start with my birdie on 1, Kory’s birdie on 2, my par on 3, Kory’s birdie on 4. After nine holes we had gone from one down to three up. But with a tough nine holes to go on the Olympic Club’s famed Lake course home of 5 US Opens no lead was big enough. Kory then birdied 10 and I chipped in on 11 for a 5 up advantage. We made our lone bogey on 13 to drop back to 4 up. It was late and at 12:15 decided to hit my shot onto 15, which I did to ten feet away, I raced up to the green and quickly hit my putt, which lipped out. I left with Kory having a 30 footer and a free run at it.
I didn’t find out any results until I got through security at SFO, I had a text from Kory saying “I birdied #15” and assumed that our 5 shot lead was enough and later found out that it was. It was a nice W against a tough team of Anthony/Sparolini whom surprisingly played very poorly on Saturday on the Lake course. Kory played amazing golf for a guy about to experience the birth of his first child and basically a once a week golfer.
Competing at the Olympic Club is about as good as it gets, and prepares me for golf just about anywhere in the world.
I will go through my two events in Florida very quickly, as it was not a good experience. My first event was the Society of Seniors Championship at The Forest CC in Fort Myers. The course was one of those Florida courses with 100 fairway bunkers, water and OB on each side of every hole. And every tee shot you hit has fear and trepidation if you are not 100% confident with your long game.
I thought my long game was in good stead, but after 7 days in a row of golf, my back is usually barking (way less now that I take Optimend) but still looking at these somewhat tight driving areas made it stressful and actually not much fun. On day 1 I slung it all over the place, combined with my typical putting mystery on every putt, I finished with a very disappointing 77 while in the wind and rain a 68 was recorded and other under par rounds.
On day two, perhaps even more challenging with 20-30 mph winds I was able to carve out a 71 moving me back up in the pack, but still well away from the leaders at -2. I was 4 over after 2 rounds and had a lot of ground to make up. A few early bogeys had me counting down the holes, knowing I would never have to play them again. A terrible thing to say and to think while golfing. I had a great group of playing partners that both were playing well, and I just tried to stay out of there way. Another ugly 78 and a T8 will most certainly again drop my WAGR world ranking even further.
I started the year as the 8th ranked senior in the world, and after these finishes in senior events of T14, 3rd, a win the the Florida Azalea, semi finals in the SF City, 6th in the State Am, 4th in So Cal senior am. I’ve dropped to 35th. Normally I wouldn’t really care but I’ve been told that the top 25 on the WAGR list will receive an exemption into the USGA Senior Amateur, which I may not be able to qualify for as I will be in the UK during all the qualifiers playing in the Senior Open and British Amateur at Royal Dornoch.
Just got an email today from the R&A changing the venue and dates for the Senior Amateur to July 6-9th at Ganton, which hosted the event about 5 years ago, and was perhaps the hardest course I’ve ever played. For the 4th time I will be changing my flight and hotel reservations at a significant cost. Who ever said amateur golf was cheap.
Back to the Florida swing, the second tournament was to be held at the old TPC Eagle Trace, unfortunately TPC has abandoned this course, and its now run by the ownership. I must admit in my 1 hour 45 minute practice round I was not impressed and certainly not with the condition of the course. I hate calling any course a DOG TRACK, as its an insult to all the dogs in the world.
I read all the tournament information and headed off to my 9:36 round 1 tee time. I was paired with one guy from Australia, that was nervous as hell, and another guy from Mississippi that was out all night at the local casino and was still drunk. I was very pleased with this featured pairing:(
The started went over some rules about lift clean and place in the tightly mowed areas, and off we went . The first thing the guy from Miss did was pick his ball up in the rough, clean it and place it back. I yelled over, “hey Steve, its only lift clean and place in the fairway” so off to a great start already. I was the only one to par the hole and off to #2 where we played the back tee marker at 415 yards. I was curious because the score card said 388, but they put the tees where they want and not always where the yardage on the cart indicates.
Again on #2 I was the lone par, and this continued through six holes. On the par five 5th hole my playing partners hit a total of 6 balls in the water and made a 9 and 10 on the hole. At this point we realized that we may have played the wrong tees on #2 and #3, I did not know there was a Mid Master division (45-54 yrs old) and obviously they would play from the back tees. I knew about the Super Senior flight and tees, but I never saw anything about this Mid Master group of players.
After the 6th hole we ran into an official and we told her perhaps we played from the wrong tees on two holes without rectifying it. She said she would contact the tournament director whom for some reason was not on property for the first two rounds. Once reaching the sixth green, and again my playing partners not making a single par in the first 6 holes we were informed that the group was disqualified. I hoped in my cart and happily left this course and this poorly run event called the Dixie Amateur. I will never return to this event, and recommend to my friends that they do not as well.
Happily I bolted Coral Springs, as the night before checking into the Hampton Inn I noticed a horrific smell in my assigned room, much to my horror I found a bag of baby poop under the kitchenette sing, and almost threw up. Coral Springs in now just a bad memory, that has been replaced by a great one here in Key West.
On my drive down to Miami, I called my dad in Houston and asked if he and his wife would hop on a plane and fly to Miami and join me. 4 hours later I scooped them from the Miami airport and have been in Key West ever since, with the cubs tightly stored in their travel bag.
So instead of golfing I went fishing in Florida, and above is the evidence. We ate this tasty fish for two days, it was amazing. Not sure what I enjoy more, catching a huge fish or making a birdie, perhaps I love them both.
We are off heading home where I will share with you my plans and how to reduce your score by 2-3 shots per round through exercise, yoga, meditation and better instruction.
You know the old saying “do as I say, not as I do”. The days of my crazy good putting are temporarily on hold. But talking about the technique of face on putting (Sidesaddle) is always helpful to me. Here is a quick video with some different face on putters as well.
I had a delightful day yesterday with a dear old friend of mine who invited to me to play in an annual event played at Petaluma Golf and Country Club in Petaluma California. They have this amazing nine hole course on top of a mountain with incredible views in all directions. It’s a nine hole event where they set the tees all the way back, and literally put the pins on huge slopes mostly a few feet from the edge of the green.
Since I had never played the course before, I was curious to see how this format would go for me. What I learned was that my opening 4 putt on the first hole would not be my last. I missed several 2 foot putts, followed by other short misses. I hit all the greens in regulation except 2 greens and shot 6 over par, and that was with two birdies. The key was to start on the short sided uphill part of the green so not to 4 or 5 putt. Here is Alan with a tough putt, he made many:
And then Alan with a two footer that did not end well, this was my typical result. Sorry Alan to show the world this putt. But thanks for including me in this really fun afternoon.
But in the end the camaraderie won out, despite the fact that we both missed winning the new enormous trophy and beautiful red jacket, it was another day of meeting new great people, and forging new friendships. Often I need to remind myself that golf is my hobby, not my profession, and if it was I would have starved long ago. So enjoy the moment and Carpe Diem.
Stay tuned for what I’ll be doing during my one month break before I head to Florida for two major amateur events.
The two golf tournaments I look forward to most are the Masters final back nine, and the British Open (or they just call it the Open) the US Open is nice, but this years event with Bryson way in front it was a bore. Same with this years Masters. I had it taped and actually watched in fast forward mode.
My previous head line “Congratulations Jon Rahm Masters champion” was only meant for his performance over 36 holes, he absolutely sucked over the weekend. Rahm’s weekend of 72-71 was bettered by Rory by 7 shots costing me a cool $100 PayPal transfer.
My weekend in the Olympic Club Championship was similar to Rahm’s weekend, it ended on Saturday. I lost my quarter final match 1 down to eventual winner Phil Huff. I love Phil, and have known him for 30 years. He beat a real stud 22 year old up and coming star Daniel Connolly in a 36 hole final that went 38 holes with the 49 year old Huff winning the club championship for the 3rd time (don’t fact check that please).
I had about ten different titles to this Masters finish, all were about the same with boring and anticlimactic in the titles. After Dustin made bogeys on #4 and #5 to just tease Cameron Smith and Im, he then put on the gas and won going away.
Dustin does not openly display much emotion, and I finally woke from my nap when I saw Paulina waiting for him behind the 18th green looking very sharp with her very puffy lips and huge eyes. But other than that, Dustin is very predictable in what he is going to say. He holds his emotions deep inside him which I actually respect.
But let’s really assess the state of golf versus in the past, lets call them the good ole days. What we have now is Hulk Bryson that hits it 350 in the air, but not always knowing exactly where its going while swinging so hard that I’m sure his dizziness could be due to the 140MPH club head speed spinning around his head. I deem this action unsustainable in the long run. The torque on his body will wear his body parts down. I think Dustin privately thinks his power is more real and sustainable as he bigger, and arguably stronger. I would take Dustin in a arm wrestle, especially since the odds would be Dustin +120.
Ok, lets not get distracted and continue down. I marvel at Cameron Smith’s swing, and how he gets the job done. This I am sorry is not a pretty swing, it loops all over the place, and I’m sure even he doesn’t know where its going. But my goodness what a short game, he is a magician around the greens, but I don’t believe that Cam is the next biggest thing in golf.
When they show Im’s swing I think I could actually take a real nap while he is swinging. He is an amazing story, and is a golfing machine, but speaks very little English. I do root for him however since my ex-caddie Bobby Brown is on his bag, and I always root for Bobby.
Justin Thomas just doesn’t seem to step up in the biggest moments, he has the talent to do so, but I have yet to see him really dominate like Dustin is currently. Koepka is finding his way back after injury, but how exciting is Koepka, how exciting is Web Simpson or Rahm. I will never root for Patrick Reed as he is a serial cheater, and Matsuyama bores me to death.
Xander and Cantlay can’t seem to shine in the big moments yet, so who do we really have? Other than Tiger making a 10 on the famed 12th hole, followed birdies on 5 of the finishing 6 holes, that was the most exciting thing I took away from this years event.
Where is a guy like Jack holding his putter up in the air as he charges to the lead, and Seve with his charisma. Or even a Hale Irwin when he ran around the 18th hole when he holed a 90 footer to tie for the lead in the Open. Where do we get that excitement in golf anymore, even Tom Watson had more star power than these guys.
A typical Dustin interview “he Dustin what did you think about your round today” ahhhhh yeah it was really solid, I was happy with the shots I hit and especially the putts I made” I say BOOOOOOOORING. Please give me a guy that will add a real spark to the game. These guys are going out and making their millions, really without any entertainment value. Am I wrong, I don’t enjoy watching golf nearly as much as when Tiger was ripping fist pumps and huge emotion and entertainment value. I LOVE Rory, but he cannot play 72 holes (like I mentioned in my previous post).
So who do we got to root hard for, and to look forward to? Bryson is just a odd freak show doing things in the most abnormal way that we are used to seeing. Lets review, his clubs are all the same length, he uses science more than any player in history, and his putting stroke looks as stiff as a frozen missile. I do not get any joy out of watching drivers launched 350 yards in the air in all directions. I miss a golf ball that you could hugely curve.
If you differ with my opinion the beauty is that’s ok, and I love hearing others perspective on the game. Who in the game is exciting to watch. My first choice would be Rory when he’s on, and perhaps Tiger. But lets be real, Tiger with his fused back is NEVER GOING TO WIN ANOTHER MAJOR, last year he had the perfect storm with virtually every contender in his way hitting a ball into the drink on #12, parting the way to his victory.
We need a player that is exciting and shows some moxie and emotion on the course like the good ole days with Arnie, and yes even Gary Player. This is like what the SF 49ers were accused of being wine sipping boring while they won multiple Super Bowls.
Oh my what do we have to look forward to in 2021 with these lockouts and Mister “Common Man” leading our country. We need something exciting, at least give us a dam major like the PGA Championship where Colin has to eagle the 70th hole at Harding Park to seal his victory, am I wrong?
I’m going to change it up tomorrow and post a video with some side saddle putters, that should be exciting…lol, I’ll try and make it so!!
It’s been a busy 5 day of golf in a row. The weekend was the qualifier of the Olympic Club Championship with about 80 guys vying for the 16 match play spots. I tied for 6th and then won my first match on Sunday. This Saturday is the quarter finals in the morning against old time friend Phil Huff, with the winner advancing to an afternoon semi-final match.
The finals will be on Masters Sunday for a grueling 36 hole final match. Monday thru Wednesday was the California State Senior Amateur against the best senior amateurs in the state at Poppy Hills. My 75 on Saturday from the tips at the Olympic Club was OK, not great, but got the job done.
Monday in the State Amateur it was a very unusual day of mental error and mental error. Made two double bogeys from the middle of the fairway, and never got anything going. Day two on my 6th hole (the par three 15th hole at Poppy Hills) I pulled a 6 iron in the left bunker, then sculled the bunker shot to the back bunker, followed by a shank into the same bunker, followed by a decent shot to 4 feet from the hole for double, but no, missed it and made a triple bogey 6. The good news is from that point on, I played -2 for the last 30 holes, which included a ninety foot eagle putt on the 18th hole on day two.
However the best part of this boring story about how I played was that before the last round I went to the short game practice area to find only fellow NCGA Hall of Famer Casey Boyns. I asked Casey whom I regard as a short game wizard, how does he hit his bunker shots. he told me he takes the club on the outside going back and cuts under the shot. It worked beautifully at the practice bunker, and the one bunker shot I had on day three was my best in a long time, so thank you Casey. The pros I’ve been talking to about bunker play want everything more square, and not to the outside, but clearly that does not work for me. What works for you??
I ended up shooting 76-72-72 for a T6th and will probably not lose any ground in the WAGR amateur world rankings, but honestly I. am caring less and less about my ranking, and more and more about becoming a better putter…lol
So this weekend I am going to putt like I have not putted in a long time, I am going to shock these young kids I’ll be playing and will keep a positive attitude.
NOW TO THE GOOD STUFF
A buddy of mine read my “Rahm will win the Masters Blog” and shot me a note that he’ll take me on for $1000, me with Rahm, and him with Rory. But they must win to collect the $1000, with a $100 on who finishes higher. I did not enjoy rooting for the hot headed Rahm and was disgusted with his bogey bogey start on his 2nd and 3rd holes. But loved his -6 over his next 9 holes to get to -4. He ended bogeying the 7th hole (his 16th) and finished -3 which is a OK start, not great.
Paul Casey is always shooting these great rounds, but can he follow up his 65 with another round in the 60’s, I say he can. Tiger shocked me with his bogey free round, but watch out for DJ and JT tomorrow with the back nine left to play, they could get to 6-8 under on round 1.
Exciting stuff, but don’t enjoy seeing mud balls squirting everywhere at Augusta. I do agree with the NO clean and place, they have never done that in the History of the Masters.
Stay tuned for more on the Master and OC Club Championship
If your frustrated with my non-proofed writing I apologize, I just let er rip