I’m sure most of you will not know what Carr Mara means, so hopefully your curious and will read on.
The objective of this great event is to honor the lives of Joe Carr and Wellington Mara through a friendly competition amongst Irish and United States golfers.
The clubs representing the USA are: Oakmont (2017 host club) Winged Foot Golf Club (where Wellington Mara was a founding member), Pine Valley, The Olympic Club, Bel Air Country Club, Garden City Golf Club and Oak Hill Country Club.
The invited Irish clubs are: Ballybunion Golf Club, Portmarnock Golf Club, Royal Portrush Golf Club, Co. Sligo Golf Club, Lahinch Golf Club, County Louth Golf Club and Sutton Golf Club.
Each club brings 8 players for a Stableford competition which allocates points on each hole (net) 5points for a Double Eagle, 4 for an Eagle, 3 for a birdie, 2 for a par, 1 for a bogey, and 0 for a double bogey or higher.
The team has 3 net players, 3 net senior players, and 2 gross (scratch players). Although there is a low gross award, for the team event, handicaps are used for the Stableford scoring. Thus a 3 handicapper in the gross flight, is getting 8 more strokes than the +5 player (and yes that is a real example of what happened)
For me the event was more about the people, especially the amazing gentlemen from Ireland. They seem to have a different appreciation and love for the game than most Americans. I say this not to slight anyone or their passion, but I can assure you those guys are more apt to be out there in 30 mph winds with driving rain, and perhaps even want to play 36 holes in those conditions.
So when we were greeted with plummeting temperatures, with wind and rain, they were quite at home.
This years winning team was no surprise as the Oakmont team certainly had the advantage on the field with such tough conditions and knowledge of the course. My two previous experiences at Oakmont were as a caddie in the 2016 US Open, and a participant in the 2003 US Amateur. So I knew how tough this course would play.
Unfortunately for me, I experienced the worst pinch nerve in my back and neck, after traveling to the East coast 3 times in 4 weeks. This last flight and hotel pillow finally did me in. If this had not been a team competition I would have withdrew on my 3rd hole after my 3rd consecutive double bogey. My first round 86 was embarrassing to post, but it gave me great pleasure to see my teammates on the OC team do so well.
The next morning I made a quick visit to a Chiropractic office near my hotel, where I found a nice Chiropractor whom was his answering service, front desk assistant, and only other person in his large office. When I walked into his office he looked like he could be no more than 18 years old, and wasn’t even growing facial hair yet. My guess is he weighed about 140 pounds and with that knew he would have a hard time cracking me)
He did however to get a hot rock dig deep into my pinched nerve area, which did some good loosening. All of this effort to see if I could help the Olympic Club win their 3rd team Carr Mara championship.
Day 2 was quite miserable with a 44 degree temperature, with wind and some rains squalls coming through. I was determined to better my score by at least 10 shots and show I had not lost it completely.
Oakmont is relentless, and hits you with so many hard holes, it difficult to ever make many lost strokes back. I battled hard, only to finish bogey, bogey for a +5 75. As a testament to how difficult this course played, my second day 75 was the low gross round by two shots.
Fellow Olympian and good friend Jason Anthony took the gross honors with a playoff par on the very difficult 18th hole where a smashed a drive and 4 iron onto the green, and then negotiated a VERY tough two putt.
Not only is Oakmont long, narrow with bunkers guarding each fairway right and left, BUT then they have the most undulated and difficult greens imaginable. No wonder Cabrerra won the Open at +5 there and played perhaps the best golf of his life.
Oakmont should be on everyones bucket list to play, it is unique, a real test, and the facilities are amazing!
Next up is the California State Senior Championship at Pauma Valley CC which will decide who is Northern California Senior Player of the year. Stay tuned as the season comes to an end, and the focus will switch to off season training.
I’m going to post my Oakmont Photos on my follow on blog.