Tuesday, July 8, 2014

'14 Brooklyn Open Recap

Ms. L drove me to the course and hung around while I warmed up, taking in the scene. On the range we overheard a couple of nervous-sounding guys trying to pep talk each other, and even she had to scoff at their foggy platitudes about "staying in the moment" and "don't project".

I warmed up for about a half hour longer than I'd planned to. Like a typical busy day at an NYC muni, tee-times were hopelessly late.

In the bizarro world, Vijay's a lefty.
In my division making his Brooklyn Open debut was none other than Vijay Singh. No, not Vijay Singh of Fiji, major champion, World Golf Hall of Fame member. No, this was the Vijay Singh of Valley Stream, Long Island, 'teen handicapper. He was a couple groups ahead of me. The starter did the usual announcement: "And now on the tee, Vijay Singh," but there was no immediate reaction from the small crowd gathered behind the tee. Come on you bunch of stiffs. How could I in good conscience let such a moment pass unnoticed? So I said "Alright!" and started clapping. That broke the ice and then a big cheer broke out. The man himself acknowledged the crowd with kind of a mock-withering look--guessing this was not the first such wisecrack he has heard on a golf course. But, everyone there had a good laugh.

Thanks to Jfurr for this solo cart-riding tip.
My group was a cross-section of the teen handicapper world. A tall thin dude-ish kind of guy, a short rotund CPA, a quiet, burly black guy. All were pretty nice fellows, or at least acted like it. The burly guy was probably the worst player but he had an impressive swing speed--so fast it was hard to follow his ball after impact. The thin dude was supposed to be my cartmate, but he opted to walk and carry his bag. I was waffling about whether to walk or ride but since there would be no carpool, it became an easy decision.

I kicked off my round with a driver that was slightly mishit, but it soared down the middle. Then I hooked a 3-iron short of a greenside bunker to a fluffy lie in the rough, for which I was glad since I was still feeling kind of jittery. The ball sat with plenty of air underneath which made for an easy pitch; it got a nice bounce toward the hole and settled four feet away. Still, it was an insane pin location (my group all had messy three-putts) and I had to aim the putt outside the hole. I made a shaky nervous stroke and it barely dribbled in the high side for a birdie 4. I thought of last year, when I opened on this same hole with a double bogey and gave thanks for a much better start.

On the third hole my 9-iron approach got a member's bounce and settled three feet directly below a crazy sloped pin--near perfect. That's when the sandbagging murmurs started from some of my group. But it was mostly facetious, and anyways I don't think they really cared since none were in contention. Mostly they seemed genuinely glad that I placed well.

A couple of holes in there was a backup on the tee. Our group was standing around discussing pin positions, and the pin sheet. The CPA scoffed, saying that the sheet is useless because it shows every pin being smack in the middle. Someone explained to him about what the numbers meant, while I went off by myself and snickered.

This is a file photo of the disaster area--what kind of douchebag would snap photos in the midst of making triple bogey.

I was playing near pro-caliber golf, that is until the fifth hole. I hooked my layup almost off the planet into the trees alongside Flatbush Avenue, from where I made a foolhardy play for the green, one of about three bad decisions I made today. I kept the shot low but it hit the sweet spot of a tree trunk and shot backwards. I was pretty lucky that it didn't come to rest against the chainlink. I ended up making an 8, but given the intensity of the moment, it felt more like a 12. It was pretty sad ordeal but hey, at least it quieted the sandbagging talk.

I created an awkward moment, in the middle of the round. The CPA teed his ball a few inches in front of the tee markers and I let him know about it, apologizing for "being an ass". But what you gonna do? This is a fairly big event. It's good to have at least one such ass in a group--I learned that at last year's tournament. It probably helps to keep everyone in line. There is a time to be casual and loosey-goosey about golf rules but this isn't it.

I inhaled water throughout the round--four and half bottles which is what, 2.25 liters? That's probably what kept me from feeling like complete fried hell afterwards.

I also grazed a lot. I gobbled fistfuls of peanuts and raisins, thinking of Jack Kerouac hiking in "The Dharma Bums" ("This'll be our gasoline...").

The second nine was brutal as predicted. The wind, while not quite as insane as I had hoped for, blew in its usual unmerciful way on that side of the course. The heat kept rising and the sunlight seemed to intensify. Everyone's movements slowed down. The greens got faster while the perimeters of the cups got more ragged (we were among the last groups out). The holes, already in precarious positions as it was, grew even more ornery about accepting marginal putts--anything less than a center-cut roll with strong pace would get shooed away at the lip.

By the time I sat down at the scorer's table I was delirious (and still fuming over finishing with a double bogey). Because this division was won last year with an 89 I had a tiny hope that my 86 could win. But when I saw that 82 was leading, I immediately felt dumb for all that hand-wringing over being seen as a sandbagger or being in the wrong div.

At the reception I bumped into Marine Park head pro Evan Silkworth, who placed T18 with a 78. I know that had to be slightly disappointing even if it's an enviable score for a genuine four or five times-a-year kind of player. He's that busy with the teaching of the golf and running of the pro shop and what not. Anyways, he explained that most of the chumps who'd stunk up the pro division at last year's Open had been scared off and were largely replaced in this year's field by real-deal mini-tour guys--this year the winning score was lower, and there were more scores under par.

So overall this tournament seemed like it has progressed, in that the field was noticeably stronger. I saw many more players walking this time. Also saw several with caddies. I even saw a few spectators following some groups. So props to director Rich McDonough. I can see this event getting bigger every year.

The competition was even stiffer in my own middling amateur division. Last year, just one guy broke 90. This year's winner shot 82, which was also the winning score in the next lower division. Who's the sandbagger now?

I'm satisfied with the score. I suppose. 82 would've been tough for me to beat. Still it would've been nicer to finish in solo second. I'm still bitter right now about the way I finished, because the final hole was the second time in the round shanking a 9-iron chip, each time it cost at least one stroke. Anyways I'll have to take some time now to reflect on all that went down and what I can learn from it.


  1. Nice way to come out of your winter slump, Mr. Legit! Tournament golf is not easy, it's another kind of golf altogether. I know I struggle at times with the mental aspect of it, giving away needless strokes because of poor management (i.e. minimizing the mistakes). I think you did very well and congratulate you on the few bucks you made... and the huge boost to your golf estime. Well done, sir!

  2. Nice write up. I have experienced all the same feelings so you captured the moment well. I especially can relate to being at the tail end of a tournament field on a really hot day.

  3. Over all a fine showing. We have all tried the miracle shot thru the trees at one time or another AND we have pulled em off. That's why we try em again. 25% chance? Go for it. Take away those (3) three putts and post 83. Of course I'm sitting here on the sidelines watching the game so to speak. On the competitive field of battle lag putts are brutal from long range.


  4. Nice write up! Sounds like a excellent day and that you are really getting into the fun of tournament golf. Even in the handicapped am groups, its still fun and gets your intensity up a little.

    Last summer in a event I came up to the clubhouse at True Blue having had a really super day with an 84 expecting it to be low in our C flight, and had a similar thing happen with an 80 already on the board. heh heh

    p.s. maybe we can call the stand bag cart strap method the "Furr-Buckle" ;)

    / Gouge Away / your can Gouge Away / all day / if you want to.... /

    1. ...my wife just gave a "eyes roll" at the name "Furr-Buckle" ... too cheesy I guess... sorry

    2. Too late! It's already gone in the lexicon.

      "Some poa annua, if you got some, gouge away... "

  5. Well done, and great write up. I'd love to enter that tourney some time. Really any excuse to get back to Brooklyn is a good one (although you might disagree.)

    And i love the single rider trick. It took me a while to see just what you did there, but i'll be using that trick for sure from now on.

  6. Thanks so much everyone. Having all this support and encouragement from around the globe makes me even gladder about not completely soiling myself.

    1. Wonder if any of my site spammers were pulling for me in the least.

  7. I lost my ball 18. Bummer!


Don't spam me bro.