‘Whose Woods These Are’

August 18, 2022

No, not Tiger Woods, who by the way is currently ranked No. 745 in the world, and not a 3-wood, 5-wood or 7-wood, but Robert Frost.

As a high school and college student, I enjoyed reading and analyzing the poetry of Robert Frost and one of my favorite Frost poems was “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Now at age 75 and fighting to maintain an 18-handicap, the term “woods” has an entirely different meaning.

We have all been there, a tight fairway, “woods” on the right, more “woods” on the left and a bunker placed about 225 yards near the tree line. Some days, you hope it pays to go for it off the tee with a driver, when you know deep down you should use an iron and play it smart.

But most of the time, for me (18-handicap), I pull out the driver and let it rip. Now one of three things usually happens. Most often, I am in the “woods” to the right; second, in the trap; or third on the fairway with a limb blocking my next shot on a dogleg right.

Thanks Robert, for the peace and quiet I once enjoyed in your “woods.”

But enough about me, here are some other golfers whose shots are too bizarre to be true, on the fairway, in the “woods,” from inside the clubhouse or bouncing off a fan’s mouth.

Back in 1997, a golfer named Bill Morse, celebrating his 51st birthday, played a round of golf with his buddies at the Farmington Country Club, near Hartford, Connecticut. With a party mood in progress and very possibly liquid refreshment on hand, Morse hit his drive on the first hole into the “woods” on the right side of the fairway.

Now to make a short story longer, his ball hit a tree, ricocheted onto some rocks near the 18th green, then bounced onto the green and rolled approximately 30 feet into the cup. I have no idea how to score that birthday shot, but the liquid refreshment should have been on him for the remainder of the round.

A golfer named Nigel Denham was playing in an amateur tournament in Leeds, England in 1974, when his approach shot sailed over the 18th green and came to rest inside the clubhouse.

Now, I am going to go out on a limb here (in keeping with the “woods” theme) and say the English are possibly the only golfers in the world who make up a local rule which states the clubhouse is inbounds. So, Denham played his ball off the carpet, chipped out through an open window and somehow bogeyed the hole. 

Many years ago, at the Quad Cities Open, a pro golfer named Charlie Sifford sliced a shot into the crowd standing in the shade of the tree lined fairway and his ball came to rest on a partially eaten hotdog and bun dropped by a spectator.

After a lengthy discussion by the officials and some laughter from the crowd, Sifford was allowed to wipe the ketchup and mustard off the ball and take a free drop to continue his game.

Most golfers who are leading a professional tournament on the final round are focused and shoot a great score to take home the winnings. In the 1993 Southwestern Bell Colonial Tournament, the end was somewhat in doubt when the leader, Fulton Allen, hit a tree off a drive on one hole, hit a rock wall approach shot near the green on another hole, and finished the day with another approach shot into a fan’s folding chair. Somehow, he went on to win the tournament with a record score of 264. 

And last, but not least, in the 1977 Talk Tournament at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, New York, Hall of Famer JoAnne Carner won the tournament with the help of a fan’s mouth.

On the par-5, 510-yard 18th hole, Carner’s third shot hit a woman in the mouth standing near the green. The ball bounced off her face, landed on the green, hit the flagstick and came to rest within two feet of the hole. Carner putted for a birdie and won the tournament (the fan was not seriously injured, but I hope she at least got an autograph).

19th Hole Trivia:

*Robert Frost was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874, and died on Jan. 29, 1963.

*Frost was awarded four Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry.

* My favorite Frost poem: “The Road Not Taken.”

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter