What do you think of when you hear the term scratch league? If you assume that the league consists of golfers who shoot right around par on a regular basis, then you win the cigar. Under ordinary circumstances very good golfers go head-to-head in this type of league with no quarter given.
Loudon Meadows hosts a scratch league on Thursday nights. For the most part, your perception of good golfers locking horns while recording pars as well as a number of birdies is correct. But then a funny thing happened on the way to this golf forum. My partner and I showed up.
Bringing double digit handicaps to the fray, we kind of shoot that very good golfer theory all to "you know where" and back. I believe that we messed up the collective league scoring average, not that anyone's complaining. We tend to be easy marks.
A few years ago John Fox asked me if I wanted to be his partner in the scratch league. The format is simple. We each play our own ball and we take the best score. Match that score to the best your opponents have to offer and a total of ten points a night is available. Knowing that we might not be as good as most of the other guys in the league, we still felt we could be competitive.
Well, you can "scratch" that theory too.
My buddy and I knew our limitations. There were a couple of things that we were not aware of. For example, you have to play by USGA rules in this league. No foot wedges, no improving your lie, counting every stroke. Why, it's no wonder we don't have a chance.
Seriously, we did know the rules. I'm not so sure we knew just how good some of these guys would be though. But that's OK. We learn something each week when we play these guys, most of whom are much younger than my partner and I. Here's a sampling of things I have learned in just the last two weeks.
I can't hit the ball that far. I can't hook the ball. I can't hit the ball that far. I can't make the ball dance like that. I can't hit the ball that far. I can't putt that well. Did I mention that I can't hit the ball as far as these guys?
That is the real fun part of playing in this league. I get to watch guys hit the ball into a different area code. Foxy and I just smile and shake our heads. We can appreciate great golf shots and we get to see a lot of them.
This week we went up against Joe Cline. Arguably the best player in the league, he opened up the first week by carding four birdies on the front nine. Are you kidding me? Four birdies in nine holes. Yikes.
We felt like he might not be able to do that two weeks in a row. As it turned out we were right. Joe started his round against us by missing the green with his third shot on the difficult par 5 No. 10 at Loudon. His chip was just so-so and he missed his par putt. A bogey and a chink in the armor perhaps? Had Foxy or I only been able to shoot something other than a snowman, we would have been on our way. Hey, I did say that No. 10 was a tough golf hole.
Cline did impress us a couple of times though. On the par 5 14th he found himself some 220 yards out after a big tee shot. I'm thinking that I could hit my driver into the wind from there and not reach the green. Cline pulled out an iron and fired it into the gusty breeze. He did come up just short of the green, but a nice chip shot and a drained birdie putt, and guess who lost another hole.
His tee shot on the par 4 16th was a thing of beauty as well. With the tees located on the right side of the tee box, the only way to go for the green (another shot that never enters my thought process) is to fade the ball. Having spent most of the round drawing the ball, he showed his versatility by carving it around the trees near the tee. It was time for Foxy and me to shake our heads and smile.
My partner and I may not be as good as Mr. Cline and several others, but nobody enjoys golfing in the scratch league more than we do. It's fun to watch others play at a high level.
As the saying goes, "these guys are good."
Here are a couple of updates for the week. First of all the A-T's Golf Guide came out last week. The date for the Tiffin Little League Football golf scramble was different in the story than it was in the ad. The official date will be July 14. If you are looking for a golf scramble to play in, this would be a good choice. It is the biggest fund raiser for Tiffin Little League Football and TLLF is an organization that allows some 200 youngsters to play the game free of charge. Your support would be greatly appreciated.
Also I have received some positive response to my Gobowlfing proposal. I feel like I need some more people to let me know that they would participate to make the event worthwhile. I will provide some more details next week. Contact me if you would like to be involved in the event.
Al Stephenson is The A-T's golf columnist.
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