|Neil Sackerson and Josh Sparks win the 2012 Bloody Horns Open by 3 shots, with a 4-under Captain's choice round at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms. Well played, gents!|
About the only thing the hole cuts you a break on, is a football field wide, diagonal fairway. It is hard to miss, but also presents an interesting question off the tee: "how much do you want to try to cut off, big boy?" The further left you challenge, the more water you must carry. The further right you bail, the more blind your uphill approach becomes.
Luckily for me and my partner Eric Gitter - the former radio station intern (Class of 1995) of mine from back in the One On One Sports days, now turned pro at Currie Park GC in Milwaukee - we had two balls in the fairway. My 250 yard safety ball, and Eric's 270 yard bomb a bit further left.
With a green that is narrow, angled away from you, and guarded by a country marsh in front, and an impossibly steep hillside behind, you don't want to have more than an 8-iron in your hand.
But at 485 yards from the tips, we were looking at 207 to the pin.
For me and my wheezy groin, that meant hybrid.
I thought: "Just hit a little cutter off the right edge of the big barn in the distance, and let it gently curl up on the safe front left part of the green."
With the two-man scramble format, I told Gitter that "par lives all over that front left part" of the green.
We were 1-under at the moment, having started on hole #1. Our partners were the defending champs, Bill Dawson and Dennis Flipse. A couple of local boys who can really play golf. Last year, they shot 66 with a double bogey! They were just even par after an afternoon of missed opportunities.
The electronic cart scoring system wasn't working that day for whatever reason (software and technology that has glitches. Wow. Who knew?) so we had only heard through the grapevine that the other strong teams were fading, and fading fast. Surely, -1 was gonna get it done this year, I thought.
So I lined up that last approach shot with a few nerve soothing Captain' n' Diets dulling my "choke" senses, and laced into it.
Low and behold, the stinging hybrid took off right at the edge of the barn, and began peeling back to the right as I had instructed it to in my brain. The kind of shot you hit every now and then in golf that makes you put up with this game's unending humiliations.
Only when we arrived at the green, did we see with amazement that Flipse's 5-wood from the light rough, further back, and totally on the blind and unforgiving angle to the right of the fairway, had somehow clawed to a stop on the green on the RIGHT of the tucked back pin. They had a 20 footer for birdie to tie.
I lagged up our 40 footer to about 3 feet. Gitter had his on-line and in the throat before it ran out of gas at the 6 inch line.
Par. Well done.
Of course, however, there was still the defending champs' last punch. I knew we might be in big trouble when Dawson stepped up to his putt ahead of Flipse. Hmmm. "This isn't their standard batting order," I thought.
Sure enough, Dawson drilled that sucker, and finished it with a Tiger-like air punch. Well played, champs. Well played.
So driving up to the clubhouse, I was starting to get a little queasy in my stomach, and it wasn't because of the Captains' or the brat at the turn. This was going to be a playoff! Even though Gitter and I are not eligible for our own grand prize of two-nights hotel in Vegas and two-rounds of golf out there during next March's "CzabeVegas 2013", you can bet your sweet ass we wanted to win!
And no doubt, with all the scorecards in, there would be PEOPLE WATCHING during the playoff. Talk about choke-a-geddon!? Oh gawd, what have we done?
The course was in great shape Sunday, especially given the nearly 4 inches of rain they finally got this week after a summer of scorched earth conditions. Course owner Dave Bachman Jr. must have poured motor oil in the superintendant's cereal, because the pin positions were not just "tucked" they were on just about every single spine, ridge, and humpback on the course!
But hey, that's what I wanted. The bloodiest test of golf at 7,314 yards we could deliver. And the course did just that.
So imagine my surprise then, when we rolled into the cart staging area and started asking around about scores. After most pairings just laughed and shook their heads ("we were a million over") I was pretty sure our -1 tie was going to stand.
Then, two lean and mean punks whom I hadn't remembered from last year's inaugural event said: "Oh, that's good. We were 4-under."
Fucking, how, exactly?
Well, turns out they are two good dudes, who can really flat out play golf. Family men too. With kids. Impressive. Good show, champs!
Now, they face their hardest test. Telling their wives: "Honey? Can I go to Vegas in March and play golf with Czabe and gamble on the NCAA tournament? PLEASE? We have a free room for two nights and two free rounds?"