April 17, 2015-By Don Nichols
From out of the darkness and into the light stood 19 eager ATAGers who had waited anxiously for 21 long weeks for this day to come—ATAG Opening Day! And what an opening day it was—sun mixed with some clouds, a little breezy, but dry, and a warm 76 degrees.
Players warmly greeted each other on the first tee and then set out to shake off the rust, vowing that this year they would improve their game. (Not going to happen. Years of keeping ATAG stats show players having the same (or worse) handicaps at the beginning and end of each year.) The high scores of today clearly showed the rust from the long layoff.
7 UNDER WINS IT!
A best ball score of 7 under, normally a middle of the pack score for the front nine, turned out to be the best score reported by this opening day field. Consuming the free golden ale libation was the team of Bill Meagher, William Thornton, Brooks Cowles, and Marty Arnold. The less than proud sponsor of the opening day match was the Commissioner’s Team of Danny Morris, Jim Williamson, Scotty Greene, and Don Nichols who were 4 under after only two holes but never progressed any further.
Meagher Takes Low Gross Honors! Williamson Pockets The Cash!
Five handicapper Bill Meagher, the only low handicapper in the field, won medalist honors with a score of 38. Seventeen handicapper Jim Williamson’s score of 41-net 32 bested the field and enabled him to pocket the nineteen one dollar bills.
A Real Pinkster Battle!
It was a real battle for the Pink Lady between ten players, each of whom had a 5 in front of his score. But, in the end, it was the net score of 8 over par by PJ Wade and Scotty Greene that received the dubious recognition. Since Greene left early, PJ Wade received the honor photo. (which, unfortunately, was taken in the dark and did not turn out clear enough to publish)
Wade Has Shot Of The Day! Pinkster co-winner PJ Wade thrilled the crowd of on lookers by the Number 9 green by holing out from the right back bunker for a birdie. First runner up went to William Thornton whose approach shot on # 6 landed within “kick in” distance of the hole for a birdie-“net eagle”. Receiving Honorable Mention was Danny Morris’ approach shot on # 8 which rattled the inside of a child’s playhouse in the back yard of the home next to the creek. (fortunately the playhouse was unoccupied and tomorrow the youngster owner will be surprised to find a shiny white golf ball with which to play with)
Birdie Club Opens With 5 Deposits!
2014 Birdie Champion Bill Meagher opened the season with 2 birdies while Jeff Kohn, William Thornton, and PJ Wade added one each to get the Birdie Train rolling out of the station.
Final Team Results: 3-17-2015 Front Nine
Meagher, Thornton, Cowles, Arnold -7
Kohn, Player, Jobson, Wade -6
Sellner, Wymer, Gaddis, Cowles (draw) -5
Houle, Healy, Martin, Kisgen -5
Williamson, Greene, Morris, Nichols -4
-Since it was St Patrick’s Day, several players wore green in honor of our new Head Golf Professional Patrick Higgins of Dublin, Ireland. ATAG CFO Doug Healy took it a step further, setting up camp behind # 9 green and offering cups of Jameson Irish Whiskey along with Irish music in the background as each group finished.
–Cameo appearances were made by Mike Schmal ( at the start of the match), Frank Corrigan, Bill Buist, and Henry Sawyer.
–ATAGer Kevin McGlynn is on the DL after breaking some ribs in a skiing accident a few weeks ago. Some of the ATAGers in today’s field sent him a “get well” text along with an “empathy photo” which can be seen in the Gallery.
-Here’s something interesting. WordPress, the publisher of the ATAG Reporter blog, provided the Editor a year end report for the 2014 season which revealed: 1. There were 1,900 views of the blog from 16 different countries, most from the U.S. but Brazil and Spain were not far behind. (that’s kind of hard to believe; maybe they thought it was a porn site? 2. There were 122 photos posted. (golf related mind you) 3. The most watched view was March 14, 2014 (coincidentally 2014 Opening Day)
–2015 ATAG Reform Act. At the end of last season, the Commissioner appointed a legislative task force to take a hard look at the operations of ATAG and to come up with some suggestions for changes that would enhance the ATAG experience. Several winter meetings were held by the task force members and, after concessions here and there, the body unanimously passed and sent to the desk of the Commissioner for his signature the 2015 ATAG Reform Act. The new policies, to be incorporated into the ATAG Bylaws, included the following:
–Increased Entry Fee. The Low Net entry fee shall be increased from one dollar to twenty dollars, thereby appealing to the players’ greed instinct and giving them a greater incentive to play their best
–Mulligan Revision. Each player shall have two attempts off the first tee and may elect which of the two shall be considered in play. If neither tee shots are acceptable, the player may elect a third attempt upon an additional ten dollar deposit into the Low Net pool.
–Game Day Cancellation Penalty. Anyone who cancels on the day of the match shall automatically be relegated to “space available” status for the next match he answers for the Call For Players.
–Early Departure Penalty. Anyone who departs immediately after the match results are announced and does not stay to socialize shall likewise be placed on a similar “space available” status. Anyone who leaves immediately after his group finishes its round shall automatically be suspended for three matches.
–Repeat Offender Penalty. Anyone who wins Low Net more than twice shall be deemed to be a “Repeat Offender” and must forfeit any subsequent low net winnings to the second place finisher. However, such Repeat Offender shall still be eligible for the end of year Sandbagger Of The Year Award.
–“Roll Em Anywhere Rule”. All players will be able to roll the ball anywhere (even in the rough and in the hazards) in order to improve their lie, and thus their scores, and make the game more enjoyable.
–Expanded Gimmie Putt Rule. In order to speed up play, anything within two putter lengths shall be deemed to be good.
–Lip Out Rule. In the interest of fairness, any putts that appear to be going in, but end up lipping out shall be considered to be good.
–Expanded Free Drop Rule. When a player is unable to find his ball, he is entitled to a free drop at the point where he thinks the ball should have been, or, if he finds his ball in any kind of unplayable situation, he shall be entitled to a free drop near a spot that will enable him to make an unheeded play on the ball. (no closer to the hole, of course)
-The Commissioner thanked the task force for its efforts and then promptly vetoed the proposed changes in their entirety, saying it wasn’t exactly what he had in mind and that he was sworn to the Commissioner’s Oath to maintain the integrity of the game as well as the saneness of the ATAG experience. This rejection stroked the ire of the task force members–so much so that they sent a letter to the ATAG constituency asking support for their cause. (Can you imagine that? That would be like members of Congress going around the President and communicating directly with foreign powers. Anyway, there is no ATAG 2015 Reform Act and the Bylaws stay the same.)
-And, finally, during the winter meetings, the Commissioner and the ATAG Compensation Committee could not come to terms on a contract extension beyond the 2015 season for the Commissioner, so this year could be a lame duck session for the Commissioner who could become a free agent at the end of the year if the issue is not resolved. (However, the sides appear to be far apart, especially since the Commissioner noted that the PGA Tour Commissioner received a salary of $1.3 million plus a performance bonus of over $4 million.)
That’s it for Opening Day 2015. Check out the photos in the Gallery and scroll down for the individual scores for today’s match.
3-17-2015 Front Nine Gross/Net