This has been a great week for golf. The LPGA is in Toledo. The PGA stars are across the pond. Locally the New Riegel Open took place last weekend. Stories abound concerning all three events. Let's start with the ladies.
I couldn't make it up to Highland Meadows for the Jamie Farr this year. Yeah, I know that Cpl. Klinger has stepped back and a new sponsor has the name for the LPGA tournament, but to me it will always be the Jamie Farr Classic.
Though I could not be there for the opening round where the old folks like me are admitted free, a couple of my buddies did go. They endured some pretty intense heat to watch Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, Sandra Gal and many more of the best women golfers in the world. I talked to one of the guys and he shared some interesting info.
He was quite taken with Ms. Gal - as much for her looks as her game perhaps - but it was the aforementioned Creamer who provided the highlight of the day. Well, sort of.
The two guys were walking near the practice range when they spotted Creamer hitting golf balls. At Highland Meadows the range balls frequently make their way onto the course where they are available for the taking. One of my buddies picked up a shot hit by Creamer and wandered up to the tee area.
There he spotted a little girl standing with her dad watching the LPGA star warm up. This is the same Paula Creamer who shot 60 in the first round a couple of years ago on her way to winning the tournament. My friend wondered if the little girl might want the ball and proceeded to walk over to her offering up the souvenir.
The little girl was speechless and when her father suggested that she thank the man for giving her the ball, she could not utter a single word. The smile on her face let my buddies know what she thought of the gift though. It was definitely the highlight of the day, not only for the girl but for my friends as well. It is amazing what a smile on a little golf fan's face can do for you.
As for the British Open, the links style golf played at Muirfield in Scotland is fun to watch. I think it might be fun to play a course like that, unless of course you end up in the rough or a bunker. Let's start with the rough.
I watched as several golfers had difficulty even locating their ball in the areas that looked a little like wheat fields. A couple of guys were knee deep in the stuff and where the ball went when they finally made contact was a bit comical. My score would add up fast on this type of course.
The only thing worse for the pros than being in the rough was being in a bunker. Those traps are nasty. The faces are so high that frequently you can't shoot directly at the green or flagstick. Sometimes the only way out is sideways or even backward.
Dustin Johnson found himself in one such predicament in the second round when his only viable option in getting out of the bunker was to hit it into the rough. Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire!
At least Johnson got out of the bunker on his first try. Darren Clarke took three swings to get out of a green-side bunker. You have to love Clarke. He smiled throughout his ordeal that led to a quadruple bogey. That's links golf, he seemed to be saying. That is why it is suggested that one stay out of the bunkers in the first place. Which is easier said than done, however.
The final round of both tournaments is being played today. Get the remote and a cold beverage
This year's version of the New Riegel Open was special for this writer. The NR Open and the Bascom Open were two tournaments I used to play in every year. In fact, I used to plan my vacations around the events. I always played with three friends - Dave Depinet, Jon Frankart and Ron Brickner. We were pretty successful in the scramble format and won both events on more than one occasion.
As time went on we went our separate ways and ,in fact, I hadn't played in either event for several years. A couple of phone calls were made recently and our foursome was reunited at Nature Trails Golf Course last Saturday.
We have all aged (actually, the same number of years) a little. I am the elder statesman of the group, but we have all lost some of the magic that we had years ago. The outing is for a good cause (NR athletics) and is well run. If nothing else, we were going to have some fun and reminisce about the past. How well we would score remained to be seen.
On the first tee I suggested that getting to double figures under par would be an achievement. Keep in mind that one year we finished 18 under! We started on the first hole and birdied one, two and three. Just like old times. When we got to the "difficult" fourth hole - a whopping 125-yard par 3 - we were getting a little cocky. Having to make a 10-foot putt for par brought us back to reality in a hurry.
We bounced back from the near-disaster with a birdie, eagle, par, birdie and birdie - closing out the front nine at 8-under par. We all thought getting to 10-under would be a piece of cake and as it turned out, we were correct. Getting to 11 didn't happen, though. All those putts that dropped on the opening nine would not find the bottom of the cup on the back side. We had fun, though, and that is what counts.
One story that was retold and brought laughter from all concerned was the time that Ron Brickner decided to practice some Phil Mickelson flop shots while waiting in the fairway. Of course he was trying to chip the ball over a golf cart some 15 feet away. One of us was sitting in said golf cart thinking about bailing when Brickner skulled the ball right into the cart giving the guy an extra ankle bone within minutes.
The event was humorous then and still funny now. It might have been funnier had I not been the guy sitting in the cart!
That's it for T.W.I.G. More stories will be coming in the weeks ahead. In fact, one such story involves a guy who quit the game, but borrowed some clubs to play in an outing and promptly went out and recorded an albatross.
Only in golf.