Fort Wayne Fling brings rain, unexpected birdies and an end to an era

2018 marked the 27th consecutive year that my golfing buddies and I made the annual trek to Indiana for Foxy’s Fort Wayne Fling. I haven’t been going quite that long, but if you want to check my closet you will find enough Fling shirts to attest to the fact that this event has been going on for a while.

There is always something new that takes place on this trip, but over the years there has been one constant. We always play the first day at a course that we have grown to love. Cedar Creek Golf Club is located northeast of Fort Wayne in the little town of Leo.

Just before teeing off we were informed by the starter that the owner had tentatively sold the course to a developer who planned to tear it up and build housing. Our favorite course would likely never be played again.

We like the course in part because they have always contributed balls, hats or towels as prizes for our games. More importantly the course has always been in great condition with some outstanding holes. Yes, No. 8 has frequently given me trouble (tree troubles to be exact), but that doesn’t take anything away from this great layout.

I did manage to birdie a hole in what likely is my final round at Cedar Creek and it was a bit unusual. After hitting a good drive on the par 5 16th hole, my 3 wood went right on my second shot. Alas, right was not the worst part of the effort as it was “dribbled” some 80 yards. That left me with 200 yards to go.

I pulled my 7 wood and hit it solid, right at the pin. Unfortunately I was aiming at the flag for the 6th green, which is a shared putting surface with 16. By the time I reached the ball it was on the fringe some 45 feet from the cup I should have been aiming at. For a guy who had not made a putt longer than eight feet all day, it did not look promising.

Of course this game is nothing if not contrary and I rolled it dead center. The birdie was good for a skin and a lasting memory of the course. There are some zoning laws that must be met for the course to be abolished, so perhaps there is hope for return trips to Cedar Creek.

Day 2 meant our Ryder Cup competition. If you have never experienced an alternating shot format, you have to use it in a future outing. It is frustrating and hilarious at the same time. Crazy things happen and the stories after the round are fascinating.

As we always do on this day, we saluted our fallen brethren before teeing off. You may not recognize these names, but our guys do. Over the years Teddy Reinhart, Tommy Hays, Bobby Goddard, Roger Debelak, Davy Conrad, Dean Barkley, John Marshall and Harold Fillhart have passed away. Fellas, we miss you dearly.

I witnessed another unusual birdie on this day as we played at Brookwood Golf Club near the airport. One golfer scalded a short second shot on a par 4. It headed straight for the greenside bunker, but was hit hard enough to go right on through and stop 15 feet from the hole. The guy then ran the putt in as his opponents were left to wonder what just happened.

Just the way you planned it, right, Major?

Maybe the funniest thing that happened on this trip took place with three holes to go at Brookwood. Not wanting to embarrass anyone, I will not mention the golfer’s name. The story actually begins on a nice note, but as you will see it deteriorates quickly.

On the par-5 16th hole, the expected rain began. It was hard enough to bring out the rain gear and our story maker pulled his raincoat from his golf bag. He wore it for the rest of the hole, but the rain became harder and his playing partner — nearly 10 years his senior — had not brought any gear with him.

So our guy took off the coat and insisted that his cart partner put it on. As the rain picked up in intensity, our guy became visibly more soaked. He complicated things when he pulled down the canvas cover on the cart to protect the golf clubs. After lifting it to return a club, he pulled it back down while standing directly behind the cart.

The cover had accumulated a nice little pool of water that splashed him right in the chest. One must have thought he made a mental note to stand to the side of the cover when the hole was finished. One would have been wrong.

As the foursome left the green he splashed himself again! Fool me once…

Well, the story is not quite over. Since both matches had been closed out after No. 17, the group decided there was no reason to play the last hole. There was no argument from the “drenched” guy. As he drove the cart towards the clubhouse, he noticed that all of the other members of the foursome had been using their golf umbrellas.

As he lamented afterwards, “It never dawned on me to get my umbrella out!” Now you know why I’m not mentioning names as the guy was truly embarrassed for his not so intelligent behavior.

I can tell you though, I may still not have totally dried out and it’s been over a week!

Our last day was washed out for the second year in a row. Hopefully we will have better weather next year — or at the very least I will respond better to it!

Now if we can just get the zoning board to nix the plans for Cedar Creek…

Al Stephenson is The A-T golf columnist.

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