Sunday, July 31, 2005

Wow!! Plateau Club Member/Guest Final Day

"Let me 'splain..... No, there is too much. Let me sum up" - Inigo Montoya

There are so many amazing stories from the final day of the Member/Guest at the Plateau Club but here are the key bits so you can get back to your Raisin Bran:
1) We won our flight with 30 points. A full 1/2 point ahead of the next group.
2) We got to play in the Championship Horse Race during which an epic battle took place
3) We came in second place in the overall tournament and got a very pretty trophy

Now to some details:

The Matches
We had two more 9 hole matches on Saturday which would determine who would win the flights. We were leading by 2 points going into our 4th match which started out just great when Paul and I both put our tee shots in the fairway and the other guys hit theirs into yucky bad places. We then hit out second shots onto the green and they hit theirs out of bounds. They conceded before we even got to the green and we moved on. I hit my tee shot on the second hole with my 3 wood and as I bent to pick up the tee, I heard my club go "crack". The head had come loose from the shaft and that was pretty much it for my 3 wood. Crap! I need that thing. When we got to 11, Caleb (one of the golf pros at the club) came by and I told him about my 3 wood. He looked up the rules and they said that I could replace the club with another one as long as no one had been using it in the competition. I remembered that Rick had a Nike Ignite 3 wood at the range and that he wasn't going to play it today so it must be in his car. Caleb took off to find Rick, got his keys, went to his car and then brought me Rick's 3 wood and took mine back to the clubhouse. Totally above and beyond and I really appreciated that. As it turns out, I don't hit it that well, but that's a different story.

Many holes of golf ensued. We were not as "on" as we were the day before but we did manage to get our fourth win and 6.5 points out of the match. At this point we were up by 2.5 points and going against the last place team on the front 9 which is Paul's favorite. Things were looking good.

Our final match was really tough. The guys we were playing against ran hot and cold but hit some amazing shots sticking it close to the pin a couple of times and getting birdies. Paul played to just +1 on the whole 9 and I had a couple of good recoveries for par that won or halved the hole but in the end we only won 4 points and lost the match. The question was, would four points be enough?

The answer was yes. The second place group had won their final match 6-4 but even if they had gotten 6.5 points we still would have won the flight since we beat them. Amazing! We actually won our flight. Now we waited for Rick and Rick to come in to see how they did. They said they were playing absolutely terribly in one of the matches but managed wins in both of them so both groups would actually be in the championship horse race. Very cool!

The Horse Race
I'll start by explaining how the horse race works. There were 8 flight winning teams so sixteen players on the first hole. Each player hits their tee shot and plays through the hole. Yes -- that's sixteen people all playing the same hole at the same time. At the end of the first hole, three teams would be eliminated based on the highest team score (best ball). In each subsequent hole, one team would be eliminated until the last hole where the winner of the hole would be the winner of the tournament. In the case of ties on the first 4 holes, there would be a chip-off to see who could chip closest to the hole. If there was a tie on the last hole, they would play it as a par 3 over and over until someone won.

Now if it was just the 16 people playing watching, it would be considerably more pressure than the typical match play round. But on top of that, most of the people who had not won their flights (and a fair number of their spouses) were watching as well -- whizzing around from point to point in a parade of golf carts being constantly resupplied by the small fleet of beer carts. I imagine that Desert Storm would look just like this if it had taken place on a golf course and in golf carts.

Leslie and Becky made it and were following us around as well. Leslie had her camera so there may be some pictures to share later. I was really glad that they made it to watch the epic battle that ensued.

We started on hole 18 where we had started in the morning with our early concession. Usually I would use my 3 wood but it was in two pieces somewhere and I didn't trust Rick's one so I hit my 5 wood. Did I mention that a ton of people were watching? Well. I nailed it. A great shot to the middle of the fairway that plugged as it hit. Plugged. At the end of July. Fortunately, I get free relief for that. Paul hit a fantastic 2 iron and we were both in the fairway. Now the amazing part was that all 16 players were in play after the tee shot. No one sliced it or hooked it into the woods. that line both sides of this dogleg left hole. I hit a great second shot that ended up in the green side bunker and Paul hit on to the green for his second. I got out of the bunker with no problems and 2 putted for a net par. Paul had an actual par. We were set. Except for all of the other people who had pars. The Ricks were in with birdie so they were guaranteed to move on. Paul had a great chip in the chip-off and we moved on to the second hole in the horse race and a guaranteed 5th place or better finish.

The next hole was number 1. Paul had a monumental drive down the fairway. I was right in the rough but punched back on to the fairway and decided to try Rick's 3 wood to get over the junk. Hmph. I topped it into the junk about 125 yards down the fairway. Rick 2 also put his 3rd shot into the junk while Rick 1 was well right of the green, but in pretty good place after 3 shots. I hit my 5 wood with a perfect fade over the junk and to the back of the green. Paul played a 5 iron over the junk and hit a wedge up to the back of the green. We knew that par would save win the hole at this point. I didn't get it done, but Paul did sink his putt to get the birdie and we were ready to move on. The Ricks were in with a bogey and had to do the chip off. Rick hit a great chip and I figured he was through, but the other team hit one just a little closer so the Ricks were eliminated. We were on to 4th place or better.

The next two holes were identical. I sucked. Paul nailed it. We were in the chip off on number 2 and Paul put the ball about 12 inches away. On number 8, he stuck his second shot about 3 feet away and made the birdie putt. If I hadn't hit my first shot OB on 8, I would have made a par (net birdie) as well - though I did, so I didn't.

So now we come to the ninth hole. There are just two teams left. Us and the top ranked team in the low handicap group. The crowed has swelled to what seems like thousands but it was probably more like about 70 people. The other guys hit tee shots that are good but right of the fairway. I do the same thing because why not? Paul nails one to the middle of the fairway. I hit my second shot (a 5 wood this time - thank you very much) and hit a perfect shot to about 120 yards away. Paul is at about 110. I am ready to redeem myself from the previous couple of holes when I push my iron way right and it bounces off the hill, hits a cart path and is well right of the hole but still in play. Paul hits his a little long. So do the other guys. I think. It starts to get blurry here. For me to hit my shot, we need to move lots of carts, the beer cart. Heck I even thought of moving a tent. I get a good line but I don't have a good distance so I hit it over the hill but it doesn't roll down to the green. I hit on to the green but I'm pretty much out of it. We end up tying the hole thanks to Paul's short game and we move on to a tie breaker.

The Tie Breaker(s)
So now we go back to the fairway and play the same hole as a par 3. Paul and Ryan - the low handicappers - play it from 150. John and I - the higher handicappers - play it from the 125. It is very uphill to a 3 tiered green with the flag on the top tier. Ryan is right of the green on the hill. Paul is long in the bunker. John is left in the heavy rough. I take the same 7 iron from about the same distance as my crappy shot of only a few minutes ago and hit the green in the middle tier. Yay!

Ryan's shot to the green is too fast and it rolls down the green so he is out of it. John hits onto the green and 2 putts for a 4. Paul takes 2 shots to get out of the bunker so he also has a 4. I putt my first putt to about 4 feet, below the hole. I now have one putt to win the championship. Four feet. Up hill. Breaks from right to left about 3 inches or so. I take the putter back and let it go. It rolls towards the hole breaking just like it is supposed to. It comes to the left side of the cup and starts to fall down into the hole. Paul yells out "YEAH!!" The ball gets scared and speeds up and comes back up out of the hole and stops 4 inches from it. 70 people say "OH!!!". I tap it in and we head back down to do the par 3 thing all over again.

So now we are 3 hours and 45 minutes into the horse race and we're playing the second tie breaker. It looks a lot like the first one with John on the hill long, Ryan in the bunker this time and Paul just right of the green in the rough and me on the green on the second tier. This time, John sends his chip rolling down the green, Paul hits his a little long on the top tier. I leave my put shorter than the first time so I'm at about 8 feet and Ryan hits the bunker shot of his life to about 2.5 feet and proceeds to fall back into the bunker and make a sand angel as the crowd (which overwhelmingly has money on them to win) goes crazy. I miss my putt and am looking at a 4. Paul also is looking at a 4. Ryan sinks his putt to win the hole, the horse race and the tournament. We come in second.

It is one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The crowd. The pressure. The putt that almost was. Being on the green with so many others watching and wishing they had my putt, or Paul's chip or whatever.

We both got beautiful crystal trophies and we made a couple of people a lot of money but the experience was the best part of it.

OK, gotta go. Need to work on that putting.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Tournament 2: The Plateau Club Member/Guest

Today was the first full day of the Plateau Club Member/Guest tournament. OK, actually, yesterday was because there was a practice round and the kickoff horse race. Paul and I are playing together this year and Rick is playing with the other Rick. Yesterday, I was playing much like I've played for the past couple of months. Some great holes and some terrible ones. I did end up with 4 pars, 8 bogies and one birdie (on 7) but I also had 3 doubles and 2 triples so inconsistency was the name of the game. Since the format for the actual tournament is team best ball match play, though that is not bad. If Paul can play well on the holes where I fall apart, we would be in good shape. We win one point for each hole we win, 1/2 point for each hole we split and the winner of the match gets one extra point for a total of 10 possible points per 9 hole round.

So this morning around 9 am, Paul and I teed off. We are the top seed in the second flight, thanks to Paul's 5 course handicap. Mine would be around 17 or so but since the max differential is 10, I am playing to a 15. Since we are the top seed and Paul has the lowest handicap in our flight of 6 teams, everyone's handicap will be relative to Paul's which means that I always get 5 strokes per 9 hole round. This is great to know from a consistency point of view. Getting a stroke on the first hole ended up helping a lot as I finished with a net par to win that first hole. Paul then won the second hole with a natural birdie (his first of 5 today!). I had a natural birdie (net eagle) on 3, then Paul won 4 with another birdie. After I won 5 with a par, we were looking sweet. We had already won the first match swapping winning holes (I liked the idea that I would win the odd holes and he would win the even ones). It didn't keep up like that -- which is good because I think people would want to kill us.

The amazing thing was that we ended up winning all three matches we played today. 7.5 points on the first round and 6 points each for the second and third rounds so at the end of day one, we are leading our flight by 2 points. A lot can happen tomorrow and who knows if we will be hitting the ball as well tomorrow as we did today but it is really amazing to be leading at the end of day one.

Paul and I finished our 3rd round and as we came in, the head pro, Chris, came over to us. "Hey," he said, "did you hear about Rick's hole in one?"


Yep, Rick had a hole in one on 15. His third hole in one in 3 years. In fact, all three of them have been in the month of July. When Paul and I were playing 15 today, about an hour before Rick hit his shot, we were telling the guys we were playing against that Rick had hit one in July for each of the last 2 years and was due. We actually said that we figured he would hit one during the tournament and sure enough, he did. DAMN! I figure that we set up the mojo by letting the 15th hole to be on the lookout for him. In return, we got a couple of free drinks in the bar after the round (along with everyone else in the tournament). Congrats Rick!

So the final rounds are tomorrow, two more 9 hole matches. Then the winner of each flight plays in a Championship Horse Race. I would LOVE to do that, but I am not worrying about that at all at this point. There is a lot of golf to play and it was just so great today to play as well as we did. Lots of fun.

More tomorrow :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Discovery - YEAH!

The space shuttle Discovery launched this morning for the first flight since the Columbia broke up nearly 2.5 years ago. There is something about shuttle launches that really gets me going. I have watched lots of launches on TV, but this one was even cooler. They've added about 100 cameras to the shuttle and it's external tank to check for damage during launch but the coolest one was the live view of the shuttle from the external tank up to and including the separation. It was a view that no one had ever seen before and with the exception of a few glitches, it was remarkably clear.

I love knowing that there are people orbiting in the shuttle right now. Very cool.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Airtunes Take 2

Almost a year ago, I tried out the Apple Airport Express with AirTunes. It didn't go so well. I figured it was time to try it again and this time it actually works. First, they changed the device so it doesn't have to be a wireless base station. I already have one of those so there is no need to deal with making them work together. This is a big part of where it fell down last time. So now it is only a remote pair of speakers across our home network. Now any copy of iTunes can start streaming it's audio to the AirTunes speakers. I am going to hook it up to my home audio system that can then route the music to any pair of speakers in the house (the house is wired with about 8 or 9 pairs of speakers in different rooms). The really cool thing is that I can then get another one and have multiple playlists going on in different rooms in the house.

This should be cool :)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bear Creek Invitational - Day 3

We didn't win.

Now that I've got that out of the way. We were actually doing pretty well for the first 14 holes or so. Today it was Dave's turn to hit it close on number 9 -- he had it to about 2 feet. We both sank birdie putts for two net eagles. That was sweet. Near the end though, it went sour. With 4 holes to go, the wheels fell off when we were both sitting 135 yards out after 2 shots on a par 5 and somehow both walked away with 8s. Couldn't even blame it on penalty strokes. If those last 4 holes had gone better, we could have been in contention but you can't do many one or zero point holes as end up near the top.

We did finish somewhere in the middle though, and it was a lot of fun. Now it is time to start preparing for the Plateau Club Member/Guest in less than two week.

Oh boy!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Bear Creek Invitational - Days 1 and 2

I still haven't hit a hole in one, but I've come close twice in 24 hours.

During the par 3 tournament yesterday, one of the guys on a different team hits his shot to the number 12 green and it rolls to 8 inches from the hole. I then hit mine and it lands to the right of the hole and starts rolling left. It rolls between his ball and the hole, missing it by about 2 inches as it slowly rolled past. Dang!!

Then today we are playing in the main tournament. There are 4 par 3 holes on the course and every one of them has a hole in one contest. Three cars and one motorcycle. On number 9 - a 210 yard long par 3 over water that I've never even hit the green on - I pull my 3 wood and hit a high draw that lands on the green to the left of the hole and starts rolling right towards it. Closer. Closer...... then it stops. 4 feet from the hole. Soooo close. And then I missed the putt. Grrr....

The high point was a birdie following a pretty bad tee shot on 14. Finally, a putt longer than three feet dropped. My driver has been terrible. My irons were bad yesterday, but a swing adjustment had them rocking today. My putting has been completely without feel for a while now. I even got a new putter which may or may not be helping.

Even with my somewhat weak play over the past couple of days it is still fun. Even when you hit a bad tee shot, there is often a chance to recover (like my birdie on 14) so that helps. Plus, the stableford scoring system used in the member guest is less confrontational than the match play tournament the Plateau uses at their M/G.

Tomorrow is the last round. 8:00 am tee time. Must get sleep.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tournament 1: Bear Creek Member/Guest

I'm playing in the Bear Creek Country Club Member/Guest tournament this weekend - the first of two M/Gs this month. It starts tomorrow with the practice round. Last year, I practiced a bunch in the weeks leading up to the tournament and was pretty bad. This year, I didn't. I haven't played since last week in Vegas, but I'll be out early tomorrow warming up.

Of course, Leslie returns from China tomorrow as well so I hope the round goes pretty fast :)

Should be fun.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Seattle Summer Music Games

Taking the geek in Duffergeek to an entirely new level. Insert: Band Geek.

When I was in high school, I was in marching band. Now we weren't your typical high school marching band featuring the full spectrum of band instruments. We were small, but we wanted to sound big, so we were more like a small drum corps than a marching band. We used to go to DCI drum corps shows all the time around Ohio and we worked hard at emulating their style and discipline. And this one time... and band camp...

No wait -- jump to modern times.

So this Saturday is the Seattle Summer Music Games. It is the only real drum corps show in the Northwest (that I know of) and it usually features a couple of the top west coast corps. The Seattle Cascades are always there and last year, the Santa Clara Vanguard performed as well. The Blue Devils from Concord CA have been there before and this year their B corps will be there.

This year is going to be much cooler for me. I sent mail to the folks at the Northwest Youth Music Association and asked for permission to get field access to take pictures of the event. They said yes! DCI events can be some of the most interesting things to take pictures of. Lots of action, bright, bold colors and kids working their butts off to nail their routines. For me, the most amazing thing is the synchronization needed to pull off a great show. 10 snare drummers all playing at blistering speed in perfect unison so that it sounds like a single drum is one thing. Throw in having to keep moving the entire time, a horn line that can peel paint off the stadium and intersperse a color guard that is spinning and throwing flags, rifles and sabres all over the place and it is really something to behold. Then -- spread it out over 100 yards and try to synchronize THAT. When done well, it is an awesome experience.

Any way about it, it will make for a great set of pictures. If anyone is interested, the show is Saturday July 9 at 6:30 at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

Remind me to tell you about the time I ran over a judge with my tuba...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Wynn Las Vegas - Recap

Here's something I didn't expect. Las Vegas doesn't really put on a show for the 4th of July. Huh. Imagine that! A holiday specifically designed for being loud and flashy at night and Las Vegas passes it by. Whodathunkit?!?

It turns out there are plenty of other things to do in Vegas though, so I was not bored. It was a little strange to go there alone. Usually I am there with a group of friends, or with a bunch of folks from work for a trade show but this time, it was just me. I stayed at the new Wynn resort where they upgraded me to the Tower Suites. I ended up with a great room overlooking the golf course (no doubt taunting me for my previous post).

I played a round of golf at Bali Hai. A nice course just south of the Mandalay Bay resort (where I usually stay in Vegas). Unfortunately the greens had just been punched about 4 days earlier so they were very sandy and bumpy which really affected the round. Lots of 3 putts as the ball bounced all over the place. I did have a nice birdie on the second hole, a long par 5 where I hit a good drive a weak second shot and an amazing 200 yard 5 wood that stopped 4 feet from the hole. I was even after 2 holes but that was pretty much it for highlights. Did I mention that it was hot? About 105° which makes the ball go far, but it also makes the grips so hot that they start to burn your hands after a while. It was a fun round though and I have yet another logo ball for the case.

After that, it was pretty much a bunch of eating and gambling. I had dinner at Okana where the master chef was my own private sushi chef for the evening. OMG, it was fantastic! He made an exquisite nigiri of toro tuna with crushed pepper, then torched it to sear it and added some fresh lemon juice. It melted in my mouth -- simply amazing. There were other great delights there as well but that one was outstanding.

After dinner, a great round of blackjack with some friendly folks from Texas. Great because I was up $400 at the end of it (don't worry -- it all went away later). On the second night, I went to the poker room and signed up for a $4/$8 table after getting lots of tips from a blackjack dealer at the Venetian. I was a bit nervous since I would be playing against other players, not just the house but it ended up being a great time. I started out with $100, won some, lost some, went all in once and won, then went back to being up $60.00 before I eventually withered to nothing but it took 3.5 hours and was a lot of fun. $100 for 3.5 hours was cheaper than the golf in a pure dollars to fun time ratio. :)

It ended up being pretty nice being there alone. I was able to relax, hang out by the pool, go shoot pictures, read, and gamble on my own schedule. I think next time I'll go with friends though -- much more fun at the tables with people you know.

Here are some pictures from the trip.

The Hilton did have a fireworks display and I was able to watch it from my hotel room. It's pretty cool when you zoom in.

This is a statue in the near the waterfall. The hair looks amazing considering it's metal.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Lessons learned

I like to summarize. Sometimes at the end of a conversation or at the end of a trip, or maybe at the end of some period in my life, I'll try to come up with the pithy statement that ties it all together so I can put that moment on the shelf with a nice tag.

Sometimes the summaries are vague, like Bob Barrenger said after flipping a station wagon in State and Main -- "So... that happened." Other times the lessons are much more specific -- "Lighting a campfire inside the tent is a bad idea."

Here are some other ones I remember.

  • Don't try to charge $5.00 for a bottle of water to 300,000 people fenced in at a concert. They will burn shit.
  • Lists are good, but if you never look at them, they're not as good.
  • Cows are always funny
  • Phantom stock is a bad idea. The work "phantom" should have been a clue.
  • You always have to have someone to talk to.
  • Remember to send in your tax forms. Otherwise, bad things happen.
  • Sometimes, a peaceful solution is the wrong solution.
  • Things usually happen for a reason, you just might not see that reason for a while.
  • If you go into the interview with an attitude, even McDonald's will give you a no hire.
  • If you're really good at rationalizing, you can fool yourself.
  • Sometimes you need to dig in, sometimes you need to move on. It is tough to know the difference.
  • It's interesting the things people will give you in Las Vegas.
  • I care about elegance and elegance is all about the details.
  • I'm not a details guy, though I often wish I was.
  • Palm Springs in late May is extraordinarily hot.
  • There are two ways to have a long term consistent golf swing. Quit or die.
  • I need goals.
  • Pictures are amazing evocative.
  • So is music.
  • Video is less so.
  • Some rules are just guidelines. It's good to know which are which.
  • You have to know when to hit "Post"

Friday, July 01, 2005

Distributed Friends

It must be that travelin' time of year. Everyone is out of town. Leslie is on her way to China. Eric is in Mexico. Lara is in France. David's heading to Hawaii. Katie is in New Zealand. Angie is leaving for Washington, DC. Looks like I gotta get out of town :)