The end is nigh, and 2017 will soon be a memory. What I saw, heard, read and experienced during the golf portion of my life was at times memorable. Not always good, but memorable nonetheless. Here are the award winners:
The Best Shot I Saw
You’re a 9-year-old Connecticut kid, you love playing golf, watching golf and you love going to the Travelers Championship every year to watch the best of the best – and maybe snag an autograph or two. You’ve always wanted to play the host course, TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, and this year you finally had the chance. After two blows on the par-4 14th hole, you find yourself staring at the flagstick, 88 yards away and 30 feet below. You launch a shot that lands on the front of the green. It rolls left, then right, and finally vanishes into the cup for a birdie.
Everyone in the group screams, jumps and rejoices like you were Jordan Spieth on the River Highlands 18th, which was The Best Shot I Did Not See (But Heard). Spieth’s hole-out from the greenside bunker on the first playoff hole of the Travelers was heard by everyone in Middlesex County. I was parked in the media center 120 yards away when the shot found glory. We heard and felt the roar a good two seconds before we watched in amazement on a TV screen what had unfolded.
Best Club Throw
When a good golfer loses his game in the middle of the round, there are so many ways he can deal with it. One player for whom I was caddying launched a silver pheasant 54 yards, according to my hand-held laser measuring device.
Speaking of caddying, a personal record was attained when two golfers for whom I was ushering through a round produced the Split of the Year. One went far right off the tee; the other far left with the total distance between the two a personal record of 148 yards. Walk that off to see what an occasion that is! I also had a pair of regulars put 126 yards between their shots to notch second place on my all-time list. (Congratulations, Eric.)
The ‘Hit the Nail Squarely On The Head’ Award
Irish pro Shane Lowery waxed poetic on what he thinks is one way to get youngsters interested in the game – and it has nothing to do with golf academies or practice.
“We learned how to play golf, and I think that’s what golf is all about: playing the game and not swinging the club. We need to teach that to kids, to let them out on the golf course – rather than out on the driving range – and I think that’s the way of growing the game of golf … just about playing, more so than hitting balls.”
Greatest Moment of Self Restraint
A friend of mine, Jones Tolland, referred to a 9-hole layout as “half a golf course.” He is fully aware that I’ve written one book lauding nines and have another book on the subject due in February. The fact that I did not crack him in the shins with a readily available 4-iron still amazes me.
The Power Of Words
California’s Gilroy Golf Course is a special place. It has only 11 holes, but you have to play a round of 18 to experience all of them. On top of that, whoever is running the website gets it. The tabs under the “Resources” section include “Basic Etiquette,” “Speed of Play” – “Timely play remains the foundation for an enjoyable round” – and “Golf Lingo,” which explains such words as niblick, eagle and whiff.
Captain Obvious Award
The website for the Minnesota Valley Country Club in Bloomington has this description of the 11th hole: “Be aware of the cart path just right of the green. Hitting this path could take you into uncharted territory.”
Wait, what? Does someone have a pen and paper so I can jot that down?