Tables turn in a match setting

July 20, 2012

Some folks mistakenly believe that golf is not a competitive sport. They consider it some kind of gentle pastime with no athletic sensibilities - at least not among the amateurs who are most of its participants.

For most rounds, with nothing more at stake than one's handicap ranking, that may be true. In match play conditions, however, experience proves otherwise.

A golf buddy of mine, Dr. Joe Zingaro, asked me to take his place in a Thursday evening league match at Rookery North. I joined his regular playing partner, Matt Thompson, a 1989 Cape grad and successful local businessman. Bob Gable and Dave Boyce were our competitors for the evening.

We began our match on the 12th hole. Gable and I were the B players for our respective teams. In this league, A plays A, B plays B, and the two individual scores are combined for a third team point.

Gable and I both had chances for birdies on that first hole, with par the far more likely results. I made par, and Gable had a putt of less than 2 feet to tie me.

Under normal conditions, I would have told him to pick it up. Because it was match play, however, I felt a bit more cold-blooded than usual, so I told him, "Good luck with that."

He missed.

Gable didn't seem all that pleased, and it wasn't long before I didn't feel so hot about it, either.

Play continued, and I had a slight advantage as we came to the par-3 16th hole. I hit a bad hook, 15 yards left of the green, but then hit a low runner between two traps, leaving a chance for a two-putt bogey. Gable's drive landed in a left side bunker.

While I mucked about with my recovery shot, however, I didn't realize Gable took two shots to escape the sand. I made bogey, as did Matt, while Dave made a nice par.

Gable's first putt stopped several feet from the hole. Still feeling guilty about forcing him to putt back on the twelfth, I conceded his relatively long putt.

At that point, I discovered his score became a five with my concession, meaning that our teams had tied the hole.

Here I was, congratulating myself for an allegedly gallant gesture, when I didn't think it would mean anything toward the final tally. Now it was my turn to be less than pleased.

Two holes later, Gable finished the 18th hole with a two-over par six. I stood over a short downhill putt of less than two feet for my bogey.

The silence from Gable at that point was deafening.

Naturally, I tugged my putt left, tying instead of winning the hole.

As we walked toward the 10th tee, I said to Gable, "it looks like turnabout is fair play."

He agreed.

It appears that match play can alter the behavior of even the mildest players.

Oakley in U.S. Senior Open

Congratulations to Pete Oakley for his performance in this year's United States Senior Open Championship, held at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion, MIchigan.

The touring professional and part owner of The Rookery made the Senior Open field by winning his qualifying event a few weeks ago in Hollywood, Fla.

In the Open, Oakley missed the cut, posting a nine-over par 149 in a tie for 97th place among the nearly 160 entrants. Oakley's performance was matched by Senior Tour players such as Hal Sutton and Chip Beck.

Local club competition results

The Kings Creek Ladies 9-hole group played a Cha-Cha tournament July 16. In this format, the team counts one low net score for one hole, then two low net scores for the next, and then repeats the pattern for the entire round.

First-place team honors went to Evelyn Diggs, Sue Eisenbrey and Susan Spence. Donna Davis and Pat DeVoll took second.

Mary Beth Merolla's tee shot on the 11th hole ended six inches from the hole, winning the closest to the pin contest.

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