This year in golf was as much about what I didn’t see as what I did see. Here in the Northeast it was dry with seasonable temperatures, which meant eyes rarely settled on significant turf disease.
I don’t remember the last time there were so many superintendents with midsummer smiles on their faces.
On the caddying front, I took the show on the road a bit, looping in a number of three-member guests, one PGA Section event, and a qualifier for a state amateur and open.
There were a number of notable experiences along the way, so here are my year-end awards:
Best Introduction: I was asked to be at a course where I never looped to caddy for a member-guest with a practice round tee-off time of about noon. By 12:45 I was worried my player, who I had never met, would not show up. I was chatting with the head and assistant golf professionals when a man stepped out of the pro shop carrying two snifters of double bourbon on ice.
“Hi,” he said, as he handed me one of the chilled glasses. “I thought we should get off on the right foot.” He then introduced himself.
I accepted the show of goodwill, and we shook hands. It was an entertaining three days.
Best Shot I Saw: For the first five holes of the round, the player for whom I was caddying, a golf equipment junkie, was raving about the new irons one of the other players in our group was using. When the foursome arrived at the sixth hole I was lagging slightly behind. My player took the opportunity to snatch the 7-iron from the coveted set. He teed up his ball, took a hurried practice swing, and then launched his shot with a club he had never used. When the ball came to rest it was 4 inches away from an ace on the 150-yard hole.
Best Shot I Didn’t See: In my October column I lamented about the over-treed Hunter Golf Club, a municipal layout near my home. There’s at least one player who must find my complaining misplaced.
On the 185-yard second hole, his wild mishit was some 30 yards off line when it caromed off a hardwood tree and onto the green, only coming to rest when it found the bottom of the cup for an ace.
Hug that tree!
Listen to Your Own Advice: I’m a firm believer that luck is an integral part of golf. A bounce is a bounce, neither bad nor good. I haven’t an ounce of empathy for those who complain about what happened to their golf balls.
In the midst of a round at the wonderful Southampton (N.Y.) Golf Club, I found myself with an atrocious lie. For some reason I incorrectly believed that I had a legitimate right to complain … out loud … adamantly.
“You hit it 60 yards off line,” one of my playing partners barked at me. “Stop whining.”
The cold slap of my own words stung for the next three holes.
Can You Please Repeat That Award: Looking down at the green stain on the top of his white utility wood the man said, “I hate chlorophyll.”
He was serious.
Secure in His Insecurity: There are few architects in the world that can rival or surpass Tom Doak for his star power, but David McLay Kidd is one. He designs the world over for the highest-profile clients and commands some of the biggest fees in the business.
Architects are a notoriously fragile and delicate bunch when it comes to criticism, and Doak might just be at the top of the list.
In 2014, Doak released a new edition of his book “The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, Volume I: Great Britain and Ireland.” It’s a five-volume set. In the first installment, he and three contributors rate courses in Great Britain and Ireland, giving each a grade from 1 to 10. When it came to the Castle Course at St. Andrews Scotland, a Kidd layout, Doak couldn’t help himself. While two of the contributors each gave the Castle a 5, Doak pronounced it a 0, the only one in the book.
In other words, Doak found not a single redeeming quality in what Kidd produced. “Horse hockey!” to quote the “M*A*S*H” TV character Colonel Sherman T. Potter.
Sounds like someone is a bit jealous and just might need a big hug and a little affirmation.
Hope he has a better 2015.