NOTE: This week’s contributing writer is long time ATAGer and host of the annual ATAG Steak Night Scotty Greene. He offers his insights on both the match and the drama that unfolded later in the evening.
“Golf is a cruel sport.” author unknown
“What a stupid I am…” Roberto De Vicenzo
Ecstasy, Agony, and Ecstasy: 4-26-2016: By Scotty Greene
From a detached, analytical distance the Ansley Tuesday Afternoon Golf (ATAG) group would not appear to present a writer much, if any, extraordinary material to work with. ATAG is a collection of mostly mid to high handicappers…all men, mostly all aged north of 60 (with the handful of under 50 and even under 30 year old players who probably tell their friends that they do volunteer work with sr. citizens on Tuesday evening) who gather weekly on Tuesday evenings to play casually competitive half rounds of golf for the largely symbolic stakes of a beer and a dollar.
But the writer assigned this piece is not detached, analytical, or writing from distant perspective. This writer is a participant, a player….who, after years of playing ATAG, knows firsthand the drama, the emotions, the agony and the ecstasy that always lurk beneath the apparent calm surface of this weekly afternoon golf outing. And the ATAG round on Tuesday April 26, 2016 could possibly go down as the record breaking example of all of these things coming together at the same time both on and off the course.
But I digress. First, let’s get the facts straight: Danny Morris, Brooks Cowles, Scotty Greene, and (visitor) Tom Lewis made up the Winning Team roster firing a team 10 under to collect the golden ale from the losers (DAL for Dead Ass Last) Jeff Kohn, Tim Martin, Doug Gooding, and (newcomer, under 50 years old!!) Scott Vandermeer with a team score of 7 under. (more on this later, in the drama section).
Twenty Two Handicapper Tom Houle won Low Net honors shooting a 43(!) for net -4, 32! His round included a jaw dropping, awe inspiring real Eagle 2, net zero on the not easy par 4, no. 4 hole. There may have been ATAG eagles before…but it is doubtful that there have been any like this: by a 22 handicapper, after a perfect drive, a perfectly struck 9 iron from 125 yards out that found the bottom of the cup on one bounce. ECSTASY! Team mate Jeff Colbath’s 4 net 3 gave their team a stunning 5 shot (surely record setting) pick up. Dramatic indeed. But we are just getting started.
Ron Majors won Low Gross…a-gain…(yawn) shooting a decidedly meh (for him) round of 40, losing 4 shots to par in the last three holes.
The Pink Lady winner for highest net went to ATAG journeyman Doug Healy for his net 9 over par. His 16 handicap wasn’t enough to save him from a personal worst 53 gross (a whopping 17 different swing thoughts over par in one round)
Back to the drama. Those who saw Tom Houle come off the no.9 or come up the steps and take his seat knew something was up. There was the spring in his gait, his grin, the sparkle in his eyes that told veteran mid/high handicappers that one of their own must have had a better than usual round of golf. Turns out we didn’t know the half of it! The 43 answer to the usual post round Q&A …”whadyashoot?”. did not dent the grin or the sparkle. Ok great, 43 and…? 9 IRON, HOLE OUT EAGLE ON NO.4! Houle’s teammates were talking all at once: “Didn’t see it go in…walked around looking for it…found it in the hole!” Now Houle’s grin was a big smile, the eyes really lit up as he gave the ATAG version of post round “what was going through my mind” account of a great golf shot( “I nutted it”), with an incredible result…an Eagle, net zero and final 43. Ecstasy.
Agony (ok, disappointment) Surely a 22 handicapper who eagles a par 4 hole with two pops and who keeps his s—t together to card a final 43 net 32 will win something…. Winning Team, Low Net….something. But no. At least for that moment in time, Houle’s eagle and teammate Colbath’s birdie on 9 meant only that they were not DAL and didn’t have to buy. Brooks Cowles, 21 handicapper, thinking he had shot 42, net 31 got the dough, the photo, and the applause for Low Net winner.
In echoes of the 1968 Masters (when Roberto DeVicenzo left the course thinking he had shot his way into a play-off with Bob Goalby), Cowles, Houle, and the ATAG golfing world, would discover that a scorecard error undid that result. Like DeVicenzo, Cowles did not check his card closely before it went to the Commissioner. Cowles would have seen that the 42 on the card omitted his 5 on no. 9 for total of 47. Houle really did shoot a 43, but gracefully accepted the fact that his score, with its net zero Eagle, was not enough to claim Low Net honors and the money.
Ecstasy. Overnight the Commish, when reviewing the scorecards of each team, spotted the error on Cowles team card, informed all involved, and gave Tom Houle the delayed pleasure of winning Low Net. The error did not change the winning team results. The email exchanges between the Commish, Cowles, Houle and Morris (Cowles teams’ scorekeeper) showed the ATAG hallmarks of grace and sportsmanship.
Afterthoughts (and a little more drama). For the first time in this writer’s memory there was a four way tie for DAL, with four teams locked at seven under, necessitating the tie breaker card comparison system.
Colbath birdied No. 9 to win the card playoff to save his temporarily benighted team from buying and to keep the Birdie Train rolling.
Shot of the Day: See above. Weather: Nice. Trends: High handicappers winning low net.
The Commissioner thanks Mr. Greene for his insightful and eloquent chronicle of this Tuesday’s match and its aftermath. Three people were culpable for the error that resulted in Tom Houle being denied his official low net recognition and photo presentation of the coveted twenty one dollar bills–scorekeeper Danny Morris whose addition error reported a score of 42 on the card, Brooks Cowles, who should have known there was no way he could have shot a 42 (see his apologetic comments below), and the Commissioner himself who should have checked the math on the low net claimant’s score after receiving the card on the porch. (something he will most definitely do from now on). Fortunately, the error was caught in time to enable it to be rectified and published accordingly and appropriate apologies were issued.
Brooks Cowles: “again, my responsibility to check card. I was thinking during the round that Scotty might have it after he drained putt after putt, so I was surprised when my gross was reported. I don’t think I have ever shot 42 in my life. But with each pat on the back, my ‘Sally Fields Oscar moment’ (you like me!) deepened. And when I got my hands on that fat wad of bills, I was done. Now I have to figure out how to get 42 out of the handicap system where I proudly entered it! Tom, you can get your money at Tattletales. Cheyenne has most of it but Amber and Jade have some too.”
That’s it for this week’ recap. Check out the photos in the Gallery and scroll down for the individual scores from today’s match. And, good luck to those ATAGers playing in this weekend’s Member-Member Tournament! As ATAG Standard Bearers, we trust that we will see one or more of your names in the final standings on the Leaderboard.
Final Results: 4-26-2016 Front Nine Gross/Net