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.

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