It doesn’t get any better than playing the “Glass” in Pebble Beach for 3 days with perfect course conditions. The NCGA Four Ball is held every year the second weekend in May, usually we are treated to a course in very good shape. This year was no exception, we had a challenging course under windy conditions that made it a stiff test.
This event has become more and more top heavy with great college players, unlike in the past. Who would want to pass up the chance to test their game on this awesome and tough track.
Ok enough of the niceties, lets get to what happened to the Haag/Anthony team. Before I talk more about the talented Jason Anthony, let me take a look back in history to my previous partners, Bob Blomberg and Darryl Donovan. I was blessed to have won this event twice with each of these guys, and both are amongst the best amateurs to ever play golf in Northern California. I have been fortunate to have partners that can hold their own and excel even when I am out of many of the holes.
All three of these guys are better players than me, and have helped me enjoy winning on a course that I call one of my favorites in the world. Here is a few words about each player:
Bob Blomberg- a golfing legend out of Alameda CA. He’s won so many Alameda Commuters and Oakland City events, too many to list. A two time runner up in the Cal State Amateur, and a true gentleman of the game. Under extreme pressure he was as good as anyone I’ve ever seen play the game. We lost Bob to cancer a few years back, and I still think about him often.
Darryl Donovan: Darryl spend 7 years flying helicopters in the Military out of college, and then played professionally for a few years. Like most, he played better as a reinstated amateur. Darryl and I played as the only amateur team in the “BIG STAKES” at the time the largest purse in golf history, $2,000,000. We lost in the quarter finals and had a blast beating many great professional teams. Darryl also won a Cal State Am and NCGA Am, and he made the cut in the US OPEN at Pebble Beach. Like Bob Blomberg, Darryl was a gentleman of the game, and well liked by everyone. He could golf his ball like the best I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. But the difference between being a great amateur and a pro that makes money playing golf, is a very fine line. I miss playing with Darryl, as he does not play competitively any longer.
Jason Anthony: My current partner, age 35, and a total stud golfer. Jason has the rare combination of incredible touch, and awesome power to compliment it. Jason also played professionally on the Canadian tour, and now back as an amateur is playing the best golf of his life. Jason was NCGA Player of the Year in 2017, and recently won his first SF City title. But perhaps his best talent is being a great person, an amazing friend, and a passionate competitor. I love playing with Jason, he makes the game look so easy and effortless. His power seems effortless, combined with his magic touch around the greens.
I have been truly blessed to have had such amazing partners. I hope that Jason will let me join him one more time as his partner in the 2019 NCGA Four Ball, hopefully to get that elusive W as I hit 60 years old….))
This year we truly had a special opportunity to get our first win in this event. Uncharacteristically we made a heap of bogeys on the same hole, 9 of them in 54 holes, which is WAY too many team bogeys to win an event like this. I’ll take the hit on this one, I was not as sharp as I normally am at Spyglass. We had 7 three putts that counted. We both struggled with the YIPS, YES BOTH OF US. I know I probably shouldn’t be writing about the dreaded YIPS, but Jason and I both had ugly moments of missed 1.5 footers, that mattered, and in the end cost us this event.
So what do we do about that problem? I have been fighting the YIPS for 5 years now, and have resorted to putting side saddle with my eyes closed. It’s a miserable way to putt, and now I see Jason’s hands shaking while using a claw grip. It doesn’t matter which way you putt, the YIPS can still get you. I am going to dedicate some time and effort not only on my fitness, but also on ways I can report back to you on this condition of the brain that makes golf so difficult for so many of us. UNFORTUNATELY I also have the chipping YIPS, which I’ve battled for over 20 years. I cannot hit a pitch and run shot, I have to flop everything around the greens. I’m decent at it, but at a disadvantage in cases where a running shot is way easier and a much higher percentage shot.
Golf despite some success over the past 5 years, is not as much fun as when I could count on my putter to bail me out. Now the pressure is on my ball striking as I am not going to make many putts. I’ll always remember Gary Player telling me at Seminole, once you have the YIPS, you’ll die with the YIPS. That was not very comforting at ALL.
I look on very envious at the younger generations with their beautiful smooth and perfect putting and chipping strokes. And I am convinced that to win the “BIG ONE” you need to have your short game perform under extreme pressure, without exception. I will need to find a solution to my condition otherwise I will re-think the number of events I play in.
I am currently on an airplane heading to Scottsdale AZ for the Senior Trans Miss Championship at Desert Forest. I thought about withdrawing from this event, then I decided that it gives me a chance to experiment with some things before I get to the events that I have circled on my calendar (BRITISH SENIOR OPEN, USGA SENIOR OPEN, BRITISH SENIOR AMATEUR, USGA SENIOR AMATEUR) these are the events that make your heart skip a beat, these are the ones I dream about playing in. Once you’ve had a taste of playing in these type of events, its like a VERY good drug that you want to have again and again. I leave for St Andrews in July for the Senior Open qualifier. There are 4 qualifier sites to choose from, and I am carefully evaluating each site to see which may best suit my game. Playing in this years Senior Open at St Andrews is very important to me. The works begins now!!
I will now seek professional help, I am looking for a Sports Phycologist that perhaps can help me with this weak mental condition. Or perhaps I’ve just had too much pressure and stress already in my life and my nerves are already frayed beyond repair? I don’t know, but I do know I am not done fighting through this, to see if I can make a few more runs at the events that I basically live to play in.
I am sharing some very personal stuff here, I hope that somehow you can relate to it, and perhaps you’ll understand how frail we all can be at times. I love the game of golf, but most of all, I love the people I’ve met through this game. All of my best friends I’ve connected with through golf, and I hope to always be involved with this great game for the rest of my life.
But for today in my practice round at Desert Forest I will try to decide what clubs to carry in my bag, what putter to use, and what kind of strategy I will incorporate into my game plan. After 5 days straight of playing and traveling all over the place, my back is barking, my neck has a painful kink in it, and I’m sitting in a middle seat on a full Southwest Flight to Phoenix.
Stayed tuned for more from Scottsdale