March 22, 2002
plane flight from Erie to Pittsburgh was scheduled to depart at
7:35am. Krista and Andrea dropped me off at the airport at about
6:45. The process
went pretty smoothly. After
checking my baggage, I saw Nick and Kim Hosu and Sheila Moylan and
her significant other, Todd waiting to get on the plane.
They were all going to Florida to spend Easter with Dr. and
Mrs. Moylan. Of particular interest was the fact that Sheila was bringing
along her small dog. On
the other hand Nick and Kim were bringing along their small baby.
plane in question was a Dash 8 “turbo prop”.
With approximately 50 seats, I felt it was a suitable plane
for the short trip to Pittsburgh.
I was fortunate to draw a window seat and the view was
exceptional. I felt
like I was in an Indiana Jones movie as I walked from the terminal
to the plane. One of
the props was active and it was a lot different experience than
getting on a jet.
had been keeping up with the weather forecasts during the previous
couple of days, and for good reason.
It seems that a real mess was heading for Erie, courtesy of
a Canadian low- pressure storm that was to prove miserable for the
Great Lakes. Fortunately,
our flight went off as scheduled and we arrived in Pittsburgh at
about 8:30am. My
flight to Raleigh, NC was scheduled to depart at 9:30am so I
grabbed a coffee and bagel at a busy restaurant near the gate
flight to Raleigh was on a 737 jet.
I again drew a window seat and since it was a bright, sunny
day, I saw some interesting terrain.
On lucky break was that the set next to me was unoccupied
and the little old lady in the isle seat napped so I didn’t have
to participate in any in-flight chit chat.
Unfortunately the “moron” in the seat directly in front
of me used his seat back and this cramped up my space.
We were in the air for a little over one hour and touched
down in Raleigh at 10:45am. This
sums up the main feature of flying as opposed to driving.
A car trip from Erie to Raleigh would take about 11 hours.
From the time I walked in Erie’s airport to the time I
was driving out of Raleigh’s airport in my rental car was four
car rental was through Enterprise.
I had made the reservation through the Erie outlet and had
asked for some type of four door like a Malibu.
I instead got a small SUV called a Vitara.
It worked out fine. My
car trip to Southern Pines took about one hour.
I decided to have lunch at The Lonestar Steakhouse.
After lunch I did some sightseeing in and around South3ewrn
Pines and located to locksmith companies.
first, Sandhills Lock and Key was located on Highway 1 in
Aberdeen. Finding it
was somewhat of a fluke since I didn’t know the roads too well.
The showroom was small.
There were a couple of small safes and a counter that was
staffed by a woman who was about 55 years old.
The owner, Ron Highsmith was out of the shop.
I talked with the woman for about 5 or ten minutes and
left. Finding the
other shop, Southern Pines Key & Lock was a little more
proved to be only a mile from the other shop.
Southern Pines shop was owned by Peter Perry.
I initially met his employee, a 25ish kid with a crew cut
and decorative earrings in each ear.
He was a lot more friendly than the lady at the first shop.
The showroom was extremely messy.
The counter was cluttered with catalogs, flyers, paper and
displays. There was a
large Doberman who barked at me when I first walked in.
The was also a small dog in a cage.
I personally do not believe in having animals in business
environments. At one
time, we had a cat at our lock shop and it was big ones trying to
keep up with him.
eventually met the owner and chatted with him about business
opportunities in and around Pinehurst.
It should be noted that Southern Pines is about five miles
from Pinehurst. It’s
actually two different worlds.
Pinehurst is primarily residential while Southern Pines is
more retail-commercial. The
“strip” on Highway 1 is about three miles of businesses, car
dealerships and restaurants similar to our upper Peach street.
Since it was now about 3:00pm, I decided to check into my
reserved a room at a new hotel called the Homewood Suites.
I wasn’t disappointed.
My room had a sitting room and a bed room.
Included in the $109.00 per day rate were two queen sized
beds. In addition, a
complimentary buffet breakfast was also included.
After checking in, I scurried into the Pinehurst Members
Club to update my membership card. Since my suite included a kitchen, I elected to stop at the
grocery store for some supplies.
These included Lays Chips, Cheetos and an 18 pack of Coors
back to the Homewood, I changed clothes, chilled the beer and
called Pinehurst residents Jim and Pam Irwin.
They are the parents of Dave Irwin, who plays golf out of
the Lawrence Park Club. I
arranged to have dinner with them at Dugan’s Pub which is
located one block from the Pinecrest Inn.
We met at about seven o’clock and had an enjoyable
evening talking about Pinehurst, members issues and their carreers
in the military. After
dinner, I stopped into the Pinecrest to see if Pete Barrett was
there. I talked to Pete for about five minutes and since he was
busy, I had one drink and went back to the Homewood.
was scheduled to play early Saturday at the Mid Pines Golf Club.
My playing Partner was Bob Liu, from Chapel Hill NC.
I had never met Bob but I was acquainted with him through
chatting on AOL’s golf room.
Bob and I planned to play an additional round in the
afternoon at Pinehurst #4. Unfortunately,
I had gotten extremely cold on Friday evening and there was a one
hour frost delay on Saturday morning.
were scheduled to tee off the 10th and when we got to
the tee, there was some confusion as to who we were to play with. Since the starter didn’t mind we elected to play as a
twosome in order to catch up to another twosome who were in the
first fairway. We
never did catch them until the 1st tee.
In the mean time, Bob and I played the first nine holes in
about one hour and twenty minutes.
We felt we needed to leave Mid Pines by no later than
1:00pm to play our afternoon round at 1:50pm.n
Since it was now 11:00am we felt we were in good shape.
Unfortunately, play bogged down on the back nine and we
were forced to depart with two holes remaining in our round.
Pines was a very nice golf course. Originally opened in 1921.
It was designed by Donald Ross.
Bob & I elected to play the blue tees, which measured
6500 yards with a cr of 71.3 and a sr of 127.
The par 4’s on this course average 360 to 375 yards while
the 5’s measure around 500 yards. The putting surfaces were very nice, with the speeds running
about 10 on the meter. Unfortunately,
I did not play my best. I
ended up shooting 87 with 37 putts.
Part of my problem may have been due to a hangover but more
importantly, my hands and face had swelled up and as a result I
was not in my comfort zone, especially
on the first couple of holes.
Bob hypothesized that I was having some allergic reaction
to pine pollen. That
could very well be true. It
should be noted that because we could not finish the final two
holes, I recorded bogeys. Therefore,
my score could have been anywhere from 85 to 90.
did eventually meet up with the two guys in front of us.
They were from Boston and had come down to Pinehurst on
Thursday and played the Pine Needles Club in addition to the Mid
Pines. The one
individual, whose name I have since forgotten, mentioned to me
that he just joined a private country club in Boston with a
$100,000.00 initiation and a $9,000.00 per year dues structure.
logistics nightmare that ensued for the afternoon round was
starters, I had arranged to meet John Clancy of Roanoke, VA for
the afternoon round. In
addition, during dinner the previous evening, I had brought aboard
Pam Irwin to be our fourth. Therefore,
Bob and I drove in separate cars to the club.
I eventually met Bob in the Pro Shop.
However, with the tee time less than one-half hour away
there was no sign of Clancy.
In the meantime, I grabbed some beer from my car and in the
process of heading to the tee, found Clancy at the putting green.
We then met Pam at the tee and prepared to play.
#4 was originally built in around the 1930’s and was considered
to be a classic Donald Ross course.
I had played it at least two times in the early 90’s,
once with Krista and once with Rick Dodds-Hebron.
Since that time it had undergone a total transformation
under the direction of noted golf course architect, Tom Fazio.
We again elected to play the blue tees which measured 6700
yards with a c/r of 72.1 and a s/r of 130.
Pam proved to be a big help as she gave us some suggestions
on where to place tee shots. Bob played very well, especially on the front nine, shooting
a score of 39. Clancy and I shot 48 and 44 respectively, while Pam
played to a solid 45.
back nine was an equal test.
Bob again played well.
Unfortunately he doubled the final hole to shoot 81.
I finished with an 88 after a back nine 44 while Clancy,
who also shot 44, finished with a 92.
Pam did not play as well on the back nine, finishing with a
50 enroot to a 95. I
feel my 88 was deceiving since my round included 40 putts.
Those 40 putts included four three-putts and no one putt
greens. That was
frustrating since I was actually striking the ball fairly well.
the round, we met Pam’s husband Jim in the Members grill room.
It is right
next to the first tee of Pinehurst #2. Bob stayed for a couple of drinks and since he had to drive
back to Chapel Hill, excused himself at about 7:00pm. Jim and Pam also wanted to go to dinner so Clancy and I went
back to the Homewood and got cleaned up. We then went over to the
Mulligans Bar which is part of the Manor Inn’s first floor.
it was fairly busy, so we elected to sit at the bar. We ordered pizza and wings, had some beers and finally left
at about 11:30. Needless
to say, I was a wreck. Having
got up at 6:00 and playing two rounds of golf, I was plenty tired. In addition, I was hoping to get a good nights sleep so I
would be fresh for my morning round at Pinehurst #2.
I felt bad because I am a heavy snoring machine and it
caused Clancy to sleep in the living room on the couch.
I needed to be at the club in the morning at 8:00am so I
had another logistics event schedule for March 24, which incidentally
was also my birthday.
begin the day, I needed to check out of the Homewood. I had everything packed by 7:00am and woke up Clancy.
I went to breakfast at 7:15.
Clancy joined me at about 7:30 and I left for the club at
7:45. Arriving at the
proshop, I had to arrange for a caddy.
I had decided to take a caddy because carts are not allowed
off the path at #2. This
in turn creates some long walks between cart and ball.
After reporting to the caddy master, I elected to go to the
first tee, rather than hit balls.
There was some confusion due to several factors.
First. another frost delay was in effect.
Therefore the starter was attempting to route the first
groups to the second, third and fourth holes in a mini-shotgun
start. This was a
problem, since just about everyone concerned had planned to walk
with a caddy. This
meant that utility carts had to be rounded up to transport players
and caddies to their respective tees.
this chaotic situation continued, two caddies who were waiting for
their players to arrive got into a shouting match that erupted
into a brawl. Right
on the practice putting green.
It was comical because as these two ethnics wrestled on the
green, golfers were more or less putting around them.
this time, 8:30 had arrived and I had just been formally
introduced to my playing partners.
Nick Legamaro was from Dallas, Texas and Randy Finefrock
was from Phoenix, Arizona. Randy
and Nick had a caddy named Mark, who carried double.
Mark was a burly fellow who looked like he could have been
a offensive lineman for the Steelers.
Unfortunately, my caddy had not arrived yet.
Originally, our group was supposed to play at 8:40 while a
foursome of players, all of whom worked at Golfweek were supposed
to play at 8:30.
starter decided to put our threesome out first. I still didn’t have my caddy but I had my driver.
Since I was a little miffed about the display of ethnic
wrestling that had just transpired, I pegged a Pro V1 and mashed
it down broadway about 275 yards from the tee. This sent a little ripple of discussion through out
the various players and caddies standing around the tee.
Randy and Nick also hit and we proceeded with our match.
My caddy, whose name was John Price, was a 58 year old –
22 year veteran of caddieng at Pinehurst.
He was very personable and since we met each other in the
middle of the first fairway he had not seen my drive.
Before we got to it, we had to search for Nick’s ball
which had gone into the right trees.
finally got to my drive and John commented that he vary rarely saw
tee balls that close to the green especially from the blue tees.
I was still feeling steamed so I elected to jump on the
nine iron, which settled about three feet from the flag..
I felt pretty good making a bird on the first hole, but I
knew that the hardest holes were still to come, after doubling
two, four and five, I settled down to par 6, 7 and 8.
Unfortunately, I doubled 9 after a three putt, to shoot 44
on the front nine. It
should be noted that I hit three of nine greens in regulation.
Most of the greens missed, I putted from the rough.
My caddy made a suggestion to help me on the sixth hole
after he determined that I was swinging way too hard.
weather was ideal, not too hot, not too cold.
Since it was Sunday, the church bells tolled while we
played the eighth hole. The
back nine starts with a long par five.
I hit a solid tee ball but botched my fairway shot and
picked up after airmailing the green with my fifth shot.
This resulted in a series of poor shots on subsequent
holes, which left me 8 over with three holes to go.
Even though I was off my game, I still had the presence of
mind to chat with my caddy periodically about the lore and history
of Pinehurst. One of
John’s stories revolved around his working for Johnny Miller
over the years. It
seems that the former two-time major championship winner needed a
caddy when he arrived at Pinehurst for the 1973 World Open. He
was assigned a young caddy named John Price who has since caddied
for him whenever Johnnie happens to be in town.
also talked about the windfall he received when the 99 Open was
held. Since most of
the participants brought their own caddy, the organizers of the
tournament issued four complimentary clubhouse passes to each
caddy. John elected
to sell his passes each day of the tournament for $200.00 each.
This was a significant amount of cash since he makes about
$15,000.00 per year caddieng. Arriving at the 16th tee, a 492 yard par five, I
made a good swing with my driver which caused my caddy, John to
utter in his best Jed Clampett imitation, “well
doggie,,,that’s WFOD.” So after Nick clubbed his tee ball about 15 yards past mine
he said it again. Now
curious, I asked him what it meant.
He said that it stood for “way da fuck out dere” so we
all laughed about it.
should be noted that during the 1999 US Open, the 16th
hole was played as a 490 yard par 4.
You might recall that it was during the dramatic final
minutes of the tournament that contenders such as Tiger Woods,
Philly Mick and Payne Stewart were standing in roughly the same
position whacking 2 and 3 irons to the green.
It was here that I was able to visualize the historical
significance of playing a golf course like Pinehurst #2.
Therefore, as I surveyed my shot of about 225 yards to the
green, I inquired to caddy John about laying up with an iron.
He felt my best play was to throw caution to the wind with
a fairway club so I went for it.
Unfortunately, I topped my shot about 100 yards.
I then hit a perfect punched eight iron to about a foot
from the flag for a kick in birdie.
two holes to go I was energized for a strong finish. I strode to the 17th tee with a purposeful stride.
While the yardage of 165 yards was not insurmountable, the
green is well protected. This may have affected my swing thoughts because I hit a weak
5 iron that ended up right of the green with no real chance of
even making par. Mark
me down for a double.
18th hole is classic Donald Ross from the tee to the
green. I hit what I
thought was a fairly good drive but I was a little close for
comfort to the cavernous bunker that envelops the whole right side
of the landing area. Forced
to punch out of the sand, I was left with about 125 yards to the
green. It’s ironic
to note that every Sunday at Pinehurst #2, the hole position is
located in the exact spot where Payne Stewart made his dramatic
par saving putt to clinch the US Open in 1999.
I hit another weak approach shot which left me with a long
uphill putt. My caddy
gave me a good read but I hit the putt too strong. It rolled right off the back of the green.
I was a little disappointed to finish with two double
bogeys after the bird on 16, but managed to reflect on the good
things that happened that day and the good things still to come.
and Nick decided to play another round at the prestigious CCNC.
I still had to check into the Carolina Hotel so I decided
to do that. It was
now about 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon.
After check in, I got cleaned up and decided to watch the
final nine holes of the Players Championship.
On the way back to the Mulligan’s Bar I went to the
grocery store to ice down some beer for my round at Pinehurst #8
on Monday. At
Mulligan’s I was again waited on by Bill, the bartender who was
working the previous evening.
I told him some of the details of my round while I watched
the Players and we both were amused by the party of 8 golfers from
Ireland who were celebrating next to me.
It seems one member of their group, Tommy, had made a hole
in one. I the course
of their celebration, they found out it was my birthday. This intensified the pace of the party as we all proceeded to
do a shot of Jamison Whiskey.
Adding this to the five or six Coors Light’s I had
quaffed, led the Raptor to a “disassociated” state.
were also being entertained by the golfing prowess of Craig Perks,
who it should be remembered chipped in for eagle on 16 and made a
near impossible putt on 17 for birdie, before snatching victory
from the jaws of defeat at 18 with another chip in.
It was now after six o’clock and I motored over to the
Carolina for dinner. My
table companions included Nick and Randy plus other individuals
who had arrived that day for the retreat.
Seated next to me was Yancey Beamer, a personable MD from
Los Angeles and to my left was Nick Ficorelli from Detroit.
Nick was an entrepenuer of some means who entertained me
with stories of the restaurant business.
dinner, the retreat guests were treated to a presentation by Brad
Klein that dealt with Brad’s research on “Discovering Donald
Ross”. His book, of
the same name, is a hefty coffee table epic that breaks down every
aspect of Ross’s connections to Pinehurst and golf.
Brad brought along a number a photo’s of Donald Ross’s
work to demonstrate how Ross developed his ideas.
The evening ended with a few words from the director of the
retreat, Armand Cimaroli, of Golfweek.
As part of our package, we received a complimentary dozen
golf balls from Precept and a heavy duty umpbrella with a Golf
would classify this birthday as being an overall good one.
By this time it was past nine o’clock so I decided to
rest up for the following days activities.
was scheduled to play golf the following morning at 10:40am at
Pinehurst #8. Before
golf, there was a breakfast buffet sponsored by Golfweek that
featured another discussion by Brad Klein on the processes used by
Golfweek to rate golf courses for their annual top 100 magazine.
The raters are a group of about 175 individuals who travel
the country, at their own expense, to play and rate golf courses
like Pine Valley, Oakmont, Pebble Beach and Bandon Dunes.
This spring retreat was in fact a rating exercise for the
Golfweek staff. Of
the 75 participants, roughly 25 were raters.
However, all of the participants were given rating cards so
that Brad could develop data on courses like Pinehurst #4 and #8
which had never been rated and another Fazio design in Pinehurst
called Forrest Creek.
of the factors used in the balloting include: Intimacy of routing,
natural setting and overall land plan, interest of greens and
surrounding chipping contours, variety and memorability of par
3’s, 4’s and 5’s, quality of conditioning, tree management
and the “walk in the park test”.
The ballot also contains an overall vote.
Each category is scaled between 1 and 10.
It was noted that a course like Pine Valley would score
mostly 8 through 10 for each category which is why it’s the top
rated course on the classic 100.
The raters classify courses built after 1960 as modern
courses. It should be
noted that according to Mr. Klein, Pine Valley’s hold on #1 is
very precarious and Cypress Point could be elevated next year.
And with the changes implemented at Augusta National, Pine
Valley could find itself sinking to #3.
breakfast, I hustled over to Pinehurst #8 which is also known as
the Centennial. My
playing partners for the round were: Bob Legg of Greensboro GA,
Harmon Simmons of Grand Prairie TX and Armand Cimaroli of Orlando
FL. Bob is a retired
executive from Anhauser-Busch.
He was a little non-plussed that I had brought Coors Light
with me but it didn’t seem to hurt his game.
While he was short in stature, he could bust his drives
surprisingly long distances.
His most redeeming feature was his love for the previously
mentioned Pine Valley. He
had a Pine Valley hat and shirt and his car license plate said
something like ILUVPV. I
didn’t even ask him if he was a member of Pine Valley.
I recall stating on the fourth or fifth tee after mulling
over his Pine Valley apparel for the previous holes, “Bob, how
often do you get to play Pine Valley?”
His response: “Well, John, I like to get up to the club
about 10 times a year. I
generally meet friends there and stay in the lodge.”
The nice thing about Bob was that he wasn’t the least bit
pretentious or snobby. He
was a basic stand-up regular guy who enjoyed playing and talking
golf. He even had a
case of beer iced down in his car trunk!
Simmons was also a retired executive.
I didn’t get the name of his business but he mentioned
that he was a member of one of Dallas’s most exclusive country
clubs. He also could
hit the ball pretty good. Armand
on the other hand was a young 32 years old.
He is the co-ordinator of special events for Golfweek and
it’s his job to plan outings for his superiors, develop
tournaments and interact with the journalists and staff of the
ironic that he probably has the kind of job most of us would kill
for. All he does is
basically walk, talk and play golf.
He travels all over the country doing this and I was
#8 course was 6700 yards from the blue tees.
It featured a 72.4 c/r and a 129 s/r.
I once again played indifferently shooting 87 with 33
putts. I birdied two
holes on the back nine, three putted three times but had a good
time. Bob ended up
with an 80, which included a 38 on the back nine.
Armand and Harmon shot 82 and 84 respectively.
On the last hole Armand rolled in a long putt for bogey
which gave him a 39 for the back nine. While I didn’t classify the course as being outstanding, I
did rate it a six compared to an eight for Pinehurst #2. To put LakeView into this perspective I would have to rate it
finished our round at about 3:00pm.
Since dinner wasn’t scheduled until 7:00, I took my
sticks back to The Main Club to have them regripped.
This was another gift available to the participants in the
retreat. I chose the
Golf Pride Tour Wrap Softies, which are similar to the WINN grips
being hucksterized by Butch Harmon.
The work was done at the Don Padgett Learning Center, a
testing facility located right next to the driving range. It had
been a fairly long and challenging day.
I was feeling a little tired, especially since there had
been a lot of walking involved in the past several days.
should be noted that the parking lot at PHCC holds about 1000
cars. Even if your
lucky enough to park in the “pole position”, one still has to
walk the length of about two par fives to get to the proshop.
During that walk, you stroll past the lawn bowlers and
croquet players who play in white pull over jump suits, similar to
what the caddies wear. Next
you encounter the bad drop area.
This is always a bee-hive of activity as players come and
go. It’s also the
staging area for the hotel shuttle buses that arrive about every
half hour. As you make the turn around the patio of the Donald Ross
Grill, the massive putting green opens to your right.
Finally arriving at the proshop, you can then make all your
I basically had walked from my car to the Don Padgett and back
again, I was a little winded when I got back to the hotel.
In addition, my left ankle had swelled up to the size of a
tennis ball. After
getting cleaned up, I was attempting to put on my dress shoes but
kept having to take off the left shoe because intense pain was
shooting through my toes. At this point, I’m muttering to myself about “how an I
going to be able to walk to dinner etc.”
Finally after putting the shoe on about three times, I
decided to look into the toe area and discovered a golf ball
wedged in there. What a doofus.
dinner, we met at the Old Sport Gallery in the Village of
Pinehurst. This is a
gallery owned by Tom Stewart, formerly of Michigan, who moved to
Pinehurst several years ago to open the store.
It is everything that is golf.
It features, framed pictures, autographed sports cards, old
golf clubs, sculptures, books and other treasures.
It was very interesting, so I went back on Wednesday before
departure to pick up some knick-knacks.
dinner, Jeff Rude, who is a journalist for Golfweek, gave a laid
back view of life on the PGA tour.
He is the writer who is know as the “Forecaddie” so he
had a lot of interesting stories about some of the colorful
individuals who make up the Tour.
He took a lot of questions and answered each one in a style
that could be best described as thoughtful.
He most interesting chatter surrounded the distance that
Touring pros are hitting the ball. He pointed out that six or seven years ago the average drive
was going 270 yard. Now
the average drive is going 285 yards.
This length factor is rendering formerly challenging
you thought my chance encounter with the “Irish Rovers” was
interesting, Monday nights events were to prove equally
interesting. After dinner, several of the retreat attendees went to the
Ryder Cup Bar for drinks and casual conversation.
During the course of the evening I had chatted with those
individuals I had played with over the previous couple of days. On this evening I met four individuals from Rhode Island
named Dick Cesana, Mike Burke, Mike Hogan and Denny Glass who
proved to have some interesting stories.
had been the case with some of the other participants, the Rhode
Island guys were readers rather than raters.
They had all came together in Denny’s jet airplane.
Right off the bat that was cool.
It was also cool that they played at a club called
Donald Ross design was originally built in 1916 and is presently
rated #21 in Golfweek’s top 100 of the best classical courses in
America. It was
during our discussion about the comparison’s between Pinehurst
#2 and Wannamoisett that I had mentioned to Mike Hogan that it was
a special treat to play #2 on my birthday.
He proceeded to give a quizzical look asking me to repeat
that. It turned out
that Mike and I were born on the same day in the same year and we
had both looked forward to playing Pinehurst #2 on our birthday.
development gave us the fuel to go on a birthday bender, which
lasted until about midnight.
The gal behind the bar was obviously very tired and she
pleaded with us to go home. I
patiently explained to her that we were home but this didn’t
help matters. Mike
and I decide to suspend our reverie until the following evening
and I hit the sack.
plan for Tuesday was to have all of the retreat participants play
the #4 course. Due to
some logistics problems, the individuals I was supposed to play
with were hoping to play with the group behind us.
I was therefore paired with Peter Kupelian of the Detroit
area and Kane Ruff of Las Vegas.
It turned out that Peter who was a member of Oakland Hills
was an attorney. He
also traveled the country as a rater.
On the other hand, Kane was a retired hotel and restaurant
wanted to walk the course in order to get a feel for the routing.
Unfortunately, I was not able to walk for a variety of
reasons, so I rode in a cart with Kane. This still worked out ok because the pace of play was a
little slow. As had
been the case with my Saturday round at #4, I shot another 88 with
34 putts. I would say
that I didn’t hit the ball very well and the fact that I was a
little hung over and a lot tired didn’t help. I had three or
four birdie opportunities but managed to convert none of them.
I must have been really out of gas by the end of the round
because I doubled the final two holes.
There was no interest among the players for drinks after
the round but I agreed to sit with Kane for dinner, later that
dinner speaker was Tom Fazio, the noted golf course architect.
I had some free time before dinner, so I did some sight
seeing around the Village of Pinehurst. On the way back to the hotel, I stopped at the Pincrest Inn
for a couple of cold ones. It
was pretty quiet with the only other guy in the bar a surly sort
who wasn’t looking to chit-chat.
However, just before I left, an individual named George
Bonville stopped in and I stopped by to introduce myself.
I had met him years before when Krista and I had purchased
our property. It
seems that he is a reputable home builder and his son owns a piece
of property near ours. George
is an extremely nice guy and he asked me to call him any time I
was interested in building a home.
dinner, I gathered up scorecards from Pinehurst #4 and #8.
Since Fazio was having pre dinner cocktails with retreat
participants, I was able to obtain autograph’s for each card.
I have no clue as to why I did it.
It just seemed cool at the time.
I met Kane for dinner as well as other individuals who I
had met during the preceding days. Kane told me some interesting stories about his travels to
such countries as India, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Indonesia. During his career as a hotelier, he had to go to these
countries to help build new hotels and staff them with the locals.
talked for about two hours on a wide range of subjects.
Many of the questions from the raters surrounded the cost
of building a golf course versus the benefit to be obtained by
future players. Fazio
stated that his principal concern as an architect is to meet the
wishes of the individuals who paid his bill.
Therefore, at a course like Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, the
#7 rated course in Golfweek’s top 100 best modern courses, he
was presented with an unlimited budget.
The fact that it costs $1,000.00 to play a round of golf
there is of no consequence to him.
Fazio also gave out a few nuggets of information regarding his
work at Augusta National. All
in all it was a fascinating discussion well worth the price of
dinner, I once again met the guys from Rhode Island for a
nightcap. They were
getting ready to play another round at #2 in the morning so they
decided to go to bed early. At
this time I would have joined them except something totally
unexpected happened which made the retreat all the more enjoyable.
The Golfweek team had decided to meet with Fazio in an
informal setting to get some off the record opinions.
The previously mentioned Armand Cimaroli motioned for me to
join their party.
at the table were Armand and Tom Fazio and Golfweek contributing
writers Dave Seanor, Jeff Rude and Brad Klein.
Fazio then talked for another two hours about Augusta
National. Many of his
thoughts were centered on dealing with Hootie Johnson and Jack
Stephens on a day to day basis.
In addition, Fazio talked about meeting Arnold Palmer on
several occasions to update him on the project.
At one point, I got to ask Fazio what he thought Arnie
would shoot with the changes.
Fazio stated that he would have a hard time breaking 90.
It’s ironic that Palmer drained a long putt on 18 to
shoot 89. Another
interesting statement made by Fazio had to do with how his design
team has been tracking shots at the Masters.
It seems that the team actually charts every shot hit by
every player during all four days and has been doing this for
several years. This
is the kind of hard work that the average golfer watching the
Masters doesn’t realize is going on behind the scenes.
the course of this informal discussion, it was interesting to note
that while Fazio was talking, Jeff Rude was basically on the edge
of his seat listening to his every word.
I think I was envious of what these guys do.
As an example, Armand Cimiroli’s title at Golfweek is
Director of Special Events. Therefore,
he is the individual who is handling all of the logistics of the
Pro-Scratch Tournament Series.
This is a 26-event tournament being held all over the US
between now and September with a National Championship at the
Champions Gate in Orlando. So
basically he flies around the country.
Sets up the tournament, plays golf, talks golf and lives
golf. What a great
life. Once again the barkeep was urging us to go to bed.
I felt like staying up but soon realized that I would have
a busy day coming up.
was check out day so I dutifully got up at about 6:30 to begin the
process. I was
scheduled to meet the Irwin’s for breakfast at about 8:00 so I
decided to pack everything up and set up my travel plans to get
back into Raleigh by about 11:30.
After an enjoyable breakfast, I made one last trip into
Pinehurst and headed up the road. My flight to Pittsburgh was scheduled to depart until about
3:30, so I had a lot of time to kill.
Fortunately, I bumped into Armand, so we had lunch
together. His plan
departed at about 12:30. I
did some airport sightseeing and made some calls.
The flight departed on time.
I was struck by the newness of the plane, which was a 737.
The departure was a little bumpy which had me gripping the
arm rests. However,
once we got airborne, everything went smoothly.
Pittsburgh arrival was right on time and this gave me an
opportunity that turned out to be fortuitous.
My flight to Erie was schedule for a 6:35 departure.
I happened to be at the gate when a plane scheduled for a
5:30 departure was just starting to board.
I was able to get a set on that plane and this was a lucky
break. It seems that
the 6:35 flight was cancelled and the next flight wasn’t
scheduled to depart until about 8:00.
Therefore, I would have had to sit in the airport for
another two and one half hours.
Since I had already done that once I would not have
appreciated doing it again