Home Courses, Gator Trophies And Dreams
According to the weather forecast I’m looking at right now, it may be raining where you are today. But, you know what? The weather has been so nice lately I’m not letting a little rain mess up my parade.
As a golfer without a home course these days — our beloved Gates Four Golf and Country Club is undergoing a restoration — I’m just appreciative of any course that has grass in the fairways and greens that don’t make my shaky putting stroke get even shakier.
The Gates Four owners have been nice enough to pick up the tab — up to a certain amount — for members playing other courses in the area. That’s terrific, but it just ain’t home.
You know what I mean? We all love to sit in our own den, kick back in our own recliner and watch our favorite TV show on our own television. And, oh, yeah, we all like having our own wife bring us a glass of our own favorite beverage as we rest up from the grueling day on the unfamiliar and unfriendly greens we’ve just been subjected to.
Uh-oh. If the BW reads this column, I’m in some serious trouble of my own.
Even if the weather wasn’t on the beautiful side these days, you’d know it was spring because of all the golf tournaments being played.
Pick a date you like, a format you prefer, get three other guys or gals and go help out your favorite charity. Times are tough these days, and charities are hurting.
I was crying just the other day to one of my favorite Pinehurst Resort presidents that I hadn’t been able to get my game in premium shape yet this year because of no home course to play and practice on.
My favorite resort president laughed at me. He knows that I haven’t hit a practice ball in 13 years. Oh, well, that reputation does get around, doesn’t it?
Still, I’m planning on participating in some golf events in the near future, like starting Monday. I’m heading for Myrtle Beach and a round on the Surf Club, one of my favorites in the Grand Strand area.
Then I’m coming back to the Sandhills for a round on Pinewild Country Club’s magnificent Magnolia Course with the North Carolina Golf Panel on Wednesday.
Just in case I’m not golfed out by then, I’m joining the Golf Writers’ Association of America for rounds over the weekend at Mid Pines, Pine Needles and the Country Club of North Carolina.
If that isn’t a weekend to make wannabe golfers salivate, I don’t know what is.
There was a time in my life when the GWAA Championship was my major of the year. The writers converged on the Dunes Club at Myrtle Beach every weekend before the Masters in Augusta, and we played for miniature alligators.
No, the gators weren’t live, but they sure were coveted. I’m proud to say that although I was never anywhere good enough to win the outright championship, I do have two of those lovely alligators in my trophy case.
I know guys who would kill for one of those pewter gators.
The late, great Jim Pettit, one of the best golf writers in the country and one of the best friends I ever had, wanted one of those gators so bad I was afraid to leave him alone with mine.
Finally, one wonderful Monday in April, Big Jim had his chance. He came to the final hole at the Dunes Club holding a two-stroke lead over the late Bob May in Flight D or something ugly, and all he basically had to do was finish the final hole.
And then up jumped the gator. Poor Jim made a seven on the par-3 ninth hole — the finishing hole for Flight D — and May holed out for bogey four.
Dream over. Gator gone. Jim came into the Dunes clubhouse so upset it took him three or four minutes before he could eat his sandwich.
I haven’t played in the GWAA Championship since it left the Dunes Club in 2005 or 2006. But I’m pumped. And I don’t even know what they’re giving for trophies these days.
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