The Raptor  

Your Bridge To The Greatest Generation

Memories Of Pinehurst - 2002  Created April 16th, 2007 Modified April 16th, 2007

 

 

Friday March 22, 2002

My 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.

The 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.

I 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 called “Hotlicks’. 

The 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 hours.

My 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. 

The 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 challenging.  It proved to be only a mile from the other shop.

The 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.

I 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 hotel.

I 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 Light.

Getting 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.

I 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.

We 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. 

Mid 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. 

We 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.  Ouch!

The logistics nightmare that ensued for the afternoon round was impressive.  For 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.

Pinehurst #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.

The 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.

After 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.

Mulligan’s 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.

To 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.

As 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.

By 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.

The 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.

We 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. 

The 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. 

John 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.

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. 

With 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. 

The 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.

Randy 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. 

We 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. 

After 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 Week logo.

I 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.

I 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.

Some 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.

After 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!

Harmon 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 magazine.  It’s 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 envious. 

The #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 a five.

We 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. 

It 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 necessary arrangements.

Since 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.

Before 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.

After 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 courses obsolete.

If 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. 

As 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 Wannamoisett.  This 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. 

This 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.

The 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 manager. 

Peter 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 evening.

Our 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.

Before 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.  Interesting stuff.

Fazio 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.

Mr. 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 admission.  After 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.

Seated 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.

During 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.

Wednesday 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.

The 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

 

 

 

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