Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Fringe With Benefits

What do you get when you add 10 guys between the ages of twenty-something and sixty-something, a kitchen counter full of bottles of booze, a briefcase full of poker chips, an awesome lakefront house, a northwest weekend with just a touch of rain, and two rounds at Sandpines golf course? One helluva good time, that's what you get. This my friends is what the Bad Golfer was up to last weekend and I have to admit, it was once again all Lefty's idea.

I don't recall when it started but it must have been back in December. Lefty sent a text to me, Sparky, and Numbers saying he and a couple of buddies were going to golf Sandpines in February. He invited us and any buddies we wanted to bring along. I invited a couple of guys whose company I enjoy as did Sparky and Numbers and the next thing you know we had a gaggle of guys going ga-ga for golf (sorry, couldn't help it). .

One of the bags of booze 
We arrived at the house late Friday afternoon. For so many guys I expected there to be some fretting about who was going to get which bed but maybe that's just projection on my part because everything just seemed to fall into place (especially considering I got a room to myself). Of course The Golf Channel was on and we proceed to introduce those who didn't know each other, mix drinks, testing the hot tub, and just generally settling in.

Later that night a poker game broke out. By this time Sparky was feeling the festivities and couldn't cope with the way the poker chip denominations were set up so everything had to be reset. That was probably the longest half hour of the weekend. But finally, the game was going. Buy in was ten bucks and since we started late, no re-buys. We had one person who never played and surprisingly they didn't win (which, as any poker player can tell you, often happens when first time players enter a game) but he did hang in there 'til the final five or six. My cards were cold but I managed to hang long enough for the top three with Sparky and one of Lefty's buddies. Lefty's friend had the big stack and of course Sparky and I graciously attempted to split the winnings with him but he'd have none of that. So I did what any self-respecting poker player would do -- I lightened his pot by catching him on a bad beat (caught a flush on the river to beat his 3 of a kind). Next hand I had pocket aces and Lefty's friend drew pocket queens so we had another show-down which I won and the tournament was over. That's right, The Bad Golfer won the night.

After poker it was already early in the morning and time for bed for the old guys. Apparently the kids thought they could stay up until 4:30 and golf well the next day, so that's what they did. Fortunately, our tee times were between 12:00 and 12:30.

Statue at the entrance of Sandpines
We picked the perfect weekend as the weather was in the mid-fifties with no rain on Saturday and just a spattering of rain on Sunday.  To top it off, there were very few other's playing so they let us play two fivesome. The night before our first round we ranked all the players and paired up the top five and bottom five as teams. We had three betting games -- best team cumulative score (using "Shackleford" scoring -- OK, OK, I know, it's Stableford, geez mispronounce the scoring system once and hear about it all weekend), KP (Sandpines even gave us KP makers -- BTW, anyone know why it's KP and not CP?), and a three putt game where you had to put a buck in the pot for each three putt and the person with the fewest three putts got the pot.

Sandpines is truly a beautiful course. It's an odd combination of links and parkland. I found it to be challenging but forgiving with no gimmicky holes. I was in the first group to tee off and of course, bad golfer that I am, I managed to duff my first drive (using a five iron no less) much to the enjoyment of the other nine players, in particular Sparky. The front nine was beautiful but brutal for me and I scored a sixty. That's right sixty. But along the way, something interesting happened. On eight out of nine of the holes, I managed to end up on the fringe. Putts off the fringe don't count as putts, and I had zero three putts, I was winning the three putt competition. And this pattern continued throughout the round. By the 15th hole I'd hit something like 13 or 14 fringes and still had no three putts which prompted Lefty to say with disgust, "I've never seen a guy shoot 130 with no three putts before."

The first green, yes, that's a ball circled
in yellow. Surprisingly, not mine
It was the oddest thing. Try as I might, I couldn't hit any greens. I just kept hitting fringes. But it was truly fringe with benefits. At the end of the day I hit no greens on the par threes, my teams stableford score was nowhere near the top, and I shot 109. But I did manage to get into a putt-off for the thirty dollar-ish three putt pot. And I won.

The second night there wasn't as much partying. The young guys burned themselves out the night before and all crashed which left a few of the old guys sitting around watching the Honda LPGA Thailand tourney on The Golf Channel. That's when I was given these words of wisdom: "I hope someday to be as lazy as the person who name the fireplace." Think about it.

Sunday's golf was amazing. We were literally the only people on the course. I suggest we play as a ten-some but some of the good golfers complained that would make putting too difficult (good golfers -- sheesh!). Sunday I put together a four hole run that was probably the best I ever played four holes in a row and I thought I played a spectacular 9. I was surprised that it added up to 50 but considering I'd played the front in 60 the day before I was still happy. Oddly, I only beat Sparky by 6 strokes on the front even though he put two in the drink on the second hole. I'm still not sure how what worked out. At the end of the day I was happy to end up with a 98 even though I didn't hit a green on par 3 (oh for 12 over the weekend -- talk about bad golf), had two three putts which put me out of competition for the three putt pot, and, to top it off, I beat my stableford partner and he was one of the top five (I was his bottom five partner) so I got nothing there. But still, 98 at Sandpines for a bad golfer ain't too bad. And I was happy that one of the guys I brought played well and won the stableford with his partner.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend and I think we all agreed, this could be the start of a yearly tradition. I just hope the young guys learned to pace themselves so I can win two poker tournaments next time.

PS - Happy Birthday Sparky


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