The Raptor  

Your Bridge To The Greatest Generation

The Golf Daily Thought Page - 2008-2009 Created 05/19/08 Modified 01/03/10

 

    

Originally Posted 09/17/09

The Raptor has been busy as of late and as a result, fresh content has been slooooow coming to this site.  The golf season has been a busy one over the past few weeks with several important club events being held as well as some visits to other Erie venues.

The Raptor played poorly (as is usually the case) in this years Whispering Woods Club Championship and by shooting a two day total of 93-90 = 183...finished last in my division.  Our division, also called the A Flight was won by Richard Brown.  The B Flight was won by Bob Herbsrtitt and the C Flight was won by Damian Knight.

This year our club champion was Mark Noce, who also one in 2007.

Congratulations To Mark Noce...seen here hoisting the trophy recognizing him as the Champion Golfer of the Year at Whispering Woods Golf Club!

The Raptor was able to squeeze in some play at other local clubs including Lake View, Kahkwa and Lawrence Park. The Lakview experiences included the annual CPA Tournament and a weekend match with my friends, Criag Murphey, Larry Neizmik and Paul Gibbons.  In both cases, I shot scores guarenteed to get me to the clubhouse around 90 and I nailed it both times...it sucks to get a dose of reality.

My Kahkwa experience was as a guest of the PNC Bank for their annual Client Appreciation Party.  This year the Raptor was fortunate to golf with Steve Gutting, John Barber and Jenifer McDade (of PNC Bank).  The golf portion is a scramble format and needless to say our team was middle of the pack.  However, the highlight of the day was the dinner, where the Kahkwa Club shines brightly...

Seen Here is the feast served up by The Kahkwa Club for the annual PNC Client Appreciation Party...The meal included: Filet Mignon, Lobster, Veggies and an ultra cool twice baked potato which looked like a candle!...yummy!

          

Of special note was the recent EDGA Senior Better Ball Tournament which was just held on Tuesday September 15th, 2009 at Lawrence Park Golf Club.  This year The Raptor teamed up with Ron Coleman and we were paired with the duo of Rick Carlotti and Lou Natalie.  The field was made up of over 45 two man teams who are members of EDGA Clubs and are also at least 50 years old.

There were a number of great teams in the tournament and the winners were Ellery Tarbell and Doug Fugate who grabbed top honors after a playoff with the team of Jim McKibben and Bob Paris.  Both teams had toured the Lawrence Park Track with sterling 7 under par 65's.  This is a lot tougher than it seems folks.  The Park was in excellent shape and the weather was ideal, but the players still had to golf their balls. 

To put the winners score in perspective, The Raptor/ Ron Coleman team shot a 2 under par total of 70 which fell short by 5 strokes.  Even if we had converted some short putts and we may have only gotten to 4 or 5 under par, good enough for third place.  The Raptor really enjoyed the competition though and would like to thank Ron, Rick and Lou for allowing me to play in their group - it was fun!

Here are some selected scores from those teams that were competing in the gross division

Place Player Club Gross Net
1 Tarbell, Elery LV 65 64
  Fugate, Doug KC    
2 Paris, Bob LS 65 63
  McKibbern, Jim KC    
3 Seus, Rick E 68 65
  Wedzik, Tom KC    
3 Downey, Chris LP 68 66
  Sherman, John LP    
5 Smith, Pete LP 69 66
  Davis, Jeff NA    
5 Capotis, Mike LV 69 64
  Capotis, Homer LV    
5 DiSantis, Ron LV 69 64
  Mahoney, Jim LV    
5 Kowalewski, Dave D 69 69
  Lehner, Dave E    
6 Carneval, John WW 70 69
  Coleman, Ron WW    
7 Bincarowsky, Ralph KC 71 67
  Benson, Steve DG    
7 Slupski, Mike D 71 67
  Gashgarian, Lou E    
8 Carlotti, Rick WW 73 72
  Natalie, Lou WW    
9 Johnson, Bob LV 75 73
  Spoden, Jim KC    
10 Curry, Robert LP 77 71
  Faulkner, Charles LP    

 

 

Congratulations To Ellery Tarbell and Doug "Curley" Fugate...seen here Celebrating after their playoff win in the EDGA Senior Better Ball.  It should be noted that Ellery and Doug also won the West Penn Better Ball this year!

The Raptor spoke with Ellery Tarbell after the event and he stated that he and Doug played a seamless round.  The one hole which contained a high degree of drama would have been The Park's par 4 fifth.  According to Ellery, Doug had scored a two putt par and Ellery proceeded to hole a lengthy putt in excess of 40 feet for the birdie.  Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

The Raptor would also like to send out congratulations to the brother act of Mike and Pat Fetzner, who won the net division of the EDGA Senior Better Ball with a awesome score 0f 57 or 15 under par!  According to Pat, brother Mike, playing to a 17 handicap, shot a score of 81 on his own ball and led the team to victory.

Congratulations To Pat Fetzner and Mike Fetzner Fugate...seen here Celebrating after their win in the EDGA Senior Better Ball Net Division!

 

Here are the champs kissing the trophy Boxes recognizing Them As the Champion Golfers of the Year in the EDGA Senior Better Ball Net Division!

 

Originally Posted 08/11/09          

The Raptor frequently has a lot of "wonder" when it comes to golf as in "I wonder why I hit that shot or I wonder why I play this #$%^&*( game..."  Now I have to sit here and wonder how Tiger Woods continues to provide the type of drama that was seen on Sunday at the Bridgestone.  Woods seemed to cautiously creep up the leader board during the early rounds of the tournament and by Sunday found himself paired with Paddy Harrington in the final group...three shots out of the lead.

Woods tossed in an eagle and a couple of birdies during the first four holes and by the turn was actually sitting on a two stoke lead.  We all remember last year when Tiger seemed to have the US Open at Torrey Pines locked up with nine holes to play only to see Rocco Mediate record a string of birdies to force a playoff.

Now fast forward to Sunday, where Woods played sluggishly during the inward nine and by the time that he and Harrington reached the 600+ yard par 5 16th, Woods was down by one stroke.  Both Tiger and Padraig hit scruffy tee shots and were forced to "punch" out of jail.  Unfortunately, Tiger's punch was still 200 yards from the flagstick on a downhill lie with a water hazard fronting the putting surface.

Harrington, on the other hand had placed his punch shot towards the sand bunker cluster that is roughly 175 yards from the putting surface on the left portion of the fairway.  What happened next is what makes The Raptor wonder.  Tiger pulled out an 8 iron and crushed his approach to within 2 feet of the hole!...that was from 200 yards with a downhill lie!

Harrington now having to respond hit his approach through the green and proceeded to skull his wedge shot from heavy rough into the water hazard.  As soon as Paddy hit the mishit Vokey, the tournament was over.  However, there are certain issues which became apparent subsequent to Harrington's shot which The Raptor feels require additional examination.

First, it has come to The Raptor's attention that Woods and Harrington were placed "on the clock" during the early part of the back nine and then "warned" prior to hitting their shots from the 16th tee.  This in itself is ludicrous since the PGA Tour should know by now that conducting an event with Woods in the field brings all sorts of logistics into play that never materialize when Nick Watney and Cameron Beckman would be in the final group.

Obviously, the gallery is massive and there could have very well been 5,000 people following the action.  There are TV "foot soldiers" walking with the players with the associated camera crew as well as tournament officials and their associated sycophants.  It is apparent that CBS has a say in this whole deal since they want the tournament to end precisely at 6:00 so that the evening prime time schedule isn't disrupted.  Unfortunately, Woods and Harrington got the "slow play" news at precisely the absolute worst possible time.

Any one who has ever played in a tournament where they have been "warned" for slow play feels like crap.  Both Harrington and Woods hit awful drives and as a result, had to punch out.  There is another issue which has The Raptor mystified.  When Harrington dumped his fourth shot into the hazard, why wasn't the hazard marked as a lateral?  It seemed a little odd that Harrington was forced to walk all the way to the opposite side of the hazard and play a wedge shot from over 100 yards away from the hole.

For The Raptor, who is a big fan of Tiger Woods it was a "hollow" victory and I am sure Tiger didn't swell with pride while he hoisted the trophy.  Here are a couple of side notes.

There are many of you who can't pass the mantle of "greatest golfer" to Woods until he proves himself in some of the following categories.  First, there is the "majors" deal which I believe has Nicklaus at 18 and Woods at 14.  Then, there is the tournament victory tally where Woods is presently 3rd behind Snead at 82 and Nicklaus at 73.  However, The Raptor believes Woods has already pretty much shown he can win as he has done four times this year.  Now the pundits are holding back on Player of the Year since Woods hasn't won a major.  Oh really? come on people....lighten up. Just admit it...he's the best!

Originally Posted 07/17/09          

The term “History Is Being Made” is used frequently in our fast paced society.  While The Raptor can’t recall the last time I might have used it, it’s safe to say that yesterday, history was being made when Rick Carlotti coasted around Lake View Country Club with a hesitant 73 to capture his first Erie District Golf Association Individual trophy. 

Carlotti, who just turned 50 years old, has been golfing his ball as long as The Raptor can remember.  We first met when we played at what was then called the “Glenwood” 9 hole course back in the early 70’s.  After parting ways when The Raptor went to Penn State in 1976, we were reunited in 1983 when The Raptor joined Lake View. 

Since then, we have played regular golf matches and they have been some good ones.  Yesterday’s match was conceived a couple of weeks ago and involved The Raptor, Carlotti, Dario Cipriani and Ron DiSantis.  The Lake View track was a perfect venue and hopes (and the stakes) were high.  The weather was ideal and the course was set up extremely fair.

Teeing off at 11:00 gave us plenty of time to warm up and the four combatants brought their game faces out in anticipation of a match which paired Cipriani aka “O” with DiSantis aka “RDD” against Carlotti aka “Munster” and The Raptor.  The Raptor mentioned that the course was a fair setup and by this I mean that the tee boxes were from the blue markers and the flagstick/hole locations were accessible. It should be noted that the four players were involved in a medal tournament but the pairs match had taken precedence.

The first incident of merit occurred on the third hole.  The Raptor had stuck a decent drive which was center cut about 190 yards out on the 420 yard hole.  Munster had struck a longer drive which cleared the crest of the fairway at 150 yards out and he had settled in some rough about 130 yards from the putting surface.  As we approached The Raptor’s drive, we noticed that a turf care associate was operating a mower in close proximity to where Munster’s ball had ended up.  Munster, always the pessimist, felt with certainty that the apparent dimwit had driven over his fresh ProV1 with the mower!  The Raptor, attempting to calm down the now extremely agitated Munster said…no, the guy would never do something that dumb!

We believe it or not, The Raptor was wrong! The 20 watt bulb had in fact driven over Munster’s ball and cut it to pieces!  This set off a series of incidents which included: O and RDD calling the pro shop on their cell phones to complain (it should be noted that both were LVCC members and this was a most embarrassing situation).  Subsequent to that, head greens keeper, Gordon Seliga just happened to be sitting in a cart, watching the action and RDD called him over to his cart with a whistle to lodge a formal complaint.  Gordy then drove over to 20 watt bulb and chewed him out and dispatched him to the 14th hole.  The poor SOB then drove off without any apology to the now extremely pissed off Munster.

This series of distractions seemed to put everyone in the group into a tizzy and each player managed to somehow miss a short putt which was frustrating.  At this point, the match had turned in favor of O and RDD based on RDD’s par/net birdie on the opening hole,

The next couple of holes proved exciting as O and RDD jumped out to a 3 up lead based on O’s long birdie putt on the 5th hole and his subsequent fly in birdie on the par three 7th from the heavy rough to the left of the putting surface.  The Raptor had been a non-factor during the first 6 holes of the match.  Some three putts on the 1st and 5th holes, coupled with a miss of a very short par putt on the 3rd had been troubling.  However, The Raptor’s approach on the 7th with a three metal was true and I now faced a straight forward 25 foot birdie putt to halve O’s fly in.  Unfortunately, the putt just missed on the right side of the cup.

While the situation wasn’t hopeless it was dire as O and RDD had the match firmly in control.  However, The Raptor, now emboldened by his solid par on hole 7, struck two solid shots on the 8th and found himself with a makeable 25 foot putt for birdie.  After watching both O and RDD fail to convert, The Raptor took dead aim and rolled in a putt for birdie and a dramatic shift in momentum.

The 9th hole at LVCC is a dynamic 359 yard par 4 which was playing into the wind.  The Raptor hit a solid drive and a decent approach which was on the putting surface but over 50 feet away from the hole location, which was in the back left quadrant.  O had placed his approach above the hole and faced a tricky 15 foot downhill putt with a significant break from right to left.  The Raptor, putting first, made an excellent lag and was below the hole about 4 feet from the cup.  O made a very tentative prod at his birdie and left it short.  The Raptor then calmly converted the par/net birdie and brought the match back to 1 down but more importantly – 1 up on the press, which made it a wash, turning a drubbing into a tie.

After a short break at the half way house for food and refreshment, the match continued on the back nine and can best be described as see/saw…what ever that means.  On the 10th RDD made an excellent scrambling par/net birdie to gather the advantage.  Then on the 11th, Munster canned a 15 foot birdie to even the match. After halving the 12th hole, the par 5 13th hole proved pivotal as The Raptor converted a tricky downhill 5 foot par to take a 1 up advantage.  RDD then won the par 3, 14th with a gutsy 2 putt to a very demanding pin placement in the back left quadrant of the putting surface.  It should be noted that The Raptor and Munster were closer to the cup than RDD after the drives but each three putted.

On the par 4 15th hole, The Raptor hit 2 excellent shots and scored a win with a two putt par/net birdie to again give the advantage to Munster/The Raptor.  The 16th hole at LVCC is an uphill par 4 of 294 yards.  The flagstick was located in the front left quadrant of the putting surface.  All 4 players had struck decent approach shots and each had a chance at birdie but only the unflappable RDD was able to convert, bringing the match back to even. 

The crucial point in the match occurred on the 17th hole, a par 5 of 529 yards.  O and RDD had struck perfect tee shots, while The Raptor had fanned his drive into the trees near the second tee. Meanwhile, Munster had pull hooked his drive into the township of “Little Hope”.  However, Munster hit an excellent 5 iron out of harm’s way and found himself in scoring position about 100 yards from the putting surface with the flagstick in the middle of the putting surface.  He struck a perfect approach which landed on the green and rolled past the hole about 15 feet from a birdie. 

Both O and RDD had hit “poor” approach shots but still managed to scramble for par/net birdies which would turn the match in their favor if Munster was not able to convert his birdie.  Later on, after the match was complete Munster looked back at the putt and reflected on his inability over the past 20 years to make the putt when it counted and more often than not to crush the attempt well past the cup inevitably leading to a three putt.  However, on this occasion, Munster hit a perfect putt which just missed it’s mark.  The tap in par was of no consequence as the team of O and RDD now had a 1 up advantage with one hole to play.

The 18th hole at LVCC is a 373 yard par 4 which plays directly into the prevailing westerly wind.  In order to accomplish a miracle, birdie would have to be recorded by Munster and The Raptor.  O playing first hit his best drive of the day after being a non-factor for the whole back nine.  RDD fanned his drive into the trees while Munster and The Raptor hit good drives with a look at the green.  The flagstick was located in the back left quadrant and Munster and O put their approach shots with in birdie range, while The Raptor and RDD were forced to scramble for par.

O, putting first hit an excellent putt and was left with a short par attempt of about 2 feet.  Munster, now in control of the match was a little tentative with his bird, and unfortunately made par which gave the hard fought win to the team of O and RDD who celebrated with Cheshire grins.

The irony of this report lies in the end result of the competition.  By playing in a hard fought match, Munster was able to grind out a 1 over par 73 which lapped the field by 4 stokes and won him the coveted Blue Blazer, signifying the Champion Golfer of 2009. 

Congratulations Rick on a job…done.

Originally Posted 06/15/2009

 

The golf season is in full swing and there has been considerable excitement this year.  On the professional circuit, Tiger Woods has returned to perform in admirable fashion.  Playing in less than 10 events, Tiger has managed to score victories in the Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus Invitational's while finishing in the top 10 in the rest of the events.  On the other side of the coin, much anticipated showdowns with Tiger and World Number 2, Phil Mickleson have dematerialized with the announcement that Mickleson's wife, Amy has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

 Needless to say, Phil has taken a six week sabbatical but is playing this week at Memphis in the FedEx in preparation for the US Open which is being held once more at the American Iconic Bethpage Black Course...here is an good link to familiarize yourself with the course:

http://www.nygolfshuttle.com/Bethpage.htm

There is no doubt that The US Open will entertain this year as none has before.  The Raptor believes it to be the greatest spectacle in golf in the same way the Indianapolis 500 is the greatest spectacle in racing.

On the local golf seen, two Raptor Pals, Don Fessler, Jr. and Bill Reichert have scored hole-in-ones at our club, Whispering Woods.  Don made his ace May 13th, 2009 on hole number 11, while Bill made a 1 at the difficult hole number 6 on Wednesday, June 10th.

Here is the narrative of Don's ace, as written by The Raptor...

 

"Good Morning…The Raptor is pleased to note that last evening, Whispering Woods Member, Don Fessler, Jr. scored a hole-in-one on the 11th hole…Here are some of the particulars as witnessed by The Raptor. 

Teeing off hole number one at 4:40PM the match started with The Raptor, Don Fessler and Rick Carlotti. Conditions included firm, dry fairways and the recently plugged putting surfaces. There was a threat of rain and the wind was swirling but seemed to be coming from the south. 

The pace of play slowed a bit by the time we reached the 8th tee box so a single player, Jim Lasher was invited to join us for the rest of the match.

The trio of Lasher, Fessler and Carlotti were playing from the black tee boxes while The Raptor was playing from the blue tees.

Upon reaching the 11th, the group found that the flagstick was yellow and was cut into the back left portion of the putting surface. The shot measured all of 190 yards. Lasher played first and hit a decent approach which rolled through the green and settled in the fringe. Fessler had planned to hit a 5 iron but once he saw Lashers shot he returned to his bag and brought out the 6 iron.

As the time of day was near 7:30PM and the clouds were thickening, it was difficult to see the ball in flight but when Don struck the shot, the group could tell that it was a close pass. After it became evident that the shot had found its mark, the group celebrated with shouts of encouragement.  Don jumped three feet into the air while throwing an Arsenio Hall fist pump…this caused him to over flex his left elbow which probably hurts big time…well worth the pain I say. 

 

 

Congratulations to Don on his seventh hole-in-one!

 

 

Here is the narrative, as written by Bill...

"For any of you that did not hear, I was fortunate to be blessed with my third Hole in One last night!
Hole #6- 191 yards with a 4 iron
 
A Raptoresque explanation:
 
As I stepped to the tee on the always demanding 6th hole from the Black tees, I wondered how I got strong-armed into playing from the tips by the testosterone filled youngsters that work at the woods Zack and Scott. More surprising was the fact that I had just gone bogey, birdie, birdie, birdie, par and had missed eagle by a mear inch on #4 with a chip from the side of the hill! It was easy to see that the stars were in alignment due to the fact that my scores had been frequenting the high 80's and even into the 90's. On this glorious evening however, class was in session and I was schooling these guys. Of course, I was aware that with one swift long backswing, I could once again have my dreams crushed by WW (noted to also be referred to as Screaming Trees instead of Whispering Woods). We were a threesome playing best ball against the group behind us and we were 5 under after 5. My partner Scott just knocked it to 20 feet or so with a 7 iron or something. I mentioned that I no longer carry a 3 iron so I was going to have to stand on a 4 iron to get it to land on the green as the old timer of the group!
 
I hit this one pure, and it was going straight for the mouth of the green with no spin whatsoever-straight as an arrow. After landing safely on the front of the green, it started to release and break to the well placed white colored flagstick on the right side of the green. I mentioned that it would be inside of his shot, and it just kept rolling closer and closer until that definitive moment...It disappeared! Zack said it did, I couldn't see it, but the bunker was hiding the hole. We shouldn't celebrate until we get closer right? As we rolled towards the green it was apparent, I made the ACE! I always said, I would rather be lucky than good! That moment of looking at the bottom of the cup and seeing your ball in there is a rush! 
 
We were 7 under after 6 holes as a threesome! A score that more resembles a scramble not a bestball! Shit, I am 5 under myself...surely I would find a way to fuck this up with 7, 8 and 9 coming up... Well, I went par, bogey, bogey and finished with a 34 on the front 9 and yes I consider that holding it together!
 
I bought drinks for everyone on the turn and found out from Rock that even though I had dinner plans I had to stay and finish the round in order for it to count. It wasn't a complete let down though, I finished with a 42 on the back shooting a 76 from the Black tees- my best round ever at the Woods, and payback from the game that had been providing me misery over the last month. What a funny game, its what gets me up every weekend!"

Congratulations to Bill on his third hole-in-one!

 

 

 

 

Originally Posted in December 2008

This initial effort was snapped in March of 2008 and depicts The Raptor's house after a fresh morning snow fall.  It includes the Raptor's daughter, Andrea preparing to get in the car.  The car in the picture, a 1998 Toyota has since succumbed to engine failure.  So sad
Here is a September, 2008 picture that shows the beehive activity that occurred in the Whispering Woods driving range.  The Chivers Construction Company brought a whole slew of graders, shovels and huge trucks to shape what is sure to be an awesome finished product.
September, 2008 saw a visit to the Lake View Country Club to play in the Fall Stag with larry Neizmik, Rick Blakely and Tom Burick.  The Raptor shot a decent 81 and the team finished in a respectable top three finish.  The weather was nice and the course was in superb condition as evidenced by this view of the 15th green.  A Raptor Fav.
This is a view of the homesites that are visible from the 9th Tee at Whispering Woods.  The prominent white sided home is Dave Zimmer's - President of The Erie Bank while Dave Lauer's house is peeking from the trees in the left portion of the shot.
This is perhaps the penultimate story of the summer.  This shot is from a hill side next to Tom Eberlein's home near the third green at Whispering Woods.  The homeowner had decided during the course of the summer that the legal dispute that erupted when the golf course construction encroached on his property could only be mitigated by placing a swing set on the cart path and sectioning off his property with out of bounds stakes.  It was very obtuse.  The gent in the picture is celebrating the shot or alternatively has just chipped in - hard to say but it is either Ray or Bill
Here is a shot of Dr. V's house from the 8th fairway.  Splendid
Here is a concept shot of the 1st Hole at Whispering Woods from about 100 yards out.  The picture was taken early in the morning - hense the long shadow...of The Raptor.  Very Intense
The colorful rendition of the 6th hole is a Raptor Fav,  Especialyy the darkening clouds in the background
Here is a picture of the blandest hole on the course - the 14th - a par three of 185 yards.  The hole is a Raptor Fav due to the huge putting surface which seems unmissable but always proves to be a stern test.  Of particular note is the fact that the hole was aced at least three times this year.

First, Mark Noce made a one during the Member-Member Tourney.  later in the summer, Jeremy Light holed it from the Black Tees while Assistant Pro Pat Wiley stood by.  Finally - late in the year on perhaps the last day of golf for 2008, Levi Marsh made and ace.  Congratulations to all and welcome to the club!

 

This shot was taken on Sunday October 19th and was connected to an interesting story.  There had been a frost delay on that day and our groups were not able to tee off until perhaps almost 11:00 AM

Included in the group were Brian Fuller and Frank Fatica.  We teed off in a semi-shotgun start from the 5th hole and Frank stayed in the game until the 12th hole  Brian kept playing till the 18th.  I wasn't playing great but decided to play the final 4 haloes to complete the round.  

I was joined on the first tee by Doctor V and I plodded along scoring a bogey - par - bogey.  Sensing that the season was winding down, the Raptor had a motivating tee shot to the driving area and then placed a perfect sand wedge to the flag to within 5 feet.  After making the birdie, I walked to the cart and retrieved my camera to record the shot of the Waterfall behind the green bathed in afternoon sunlight

 

 

Originally Posted on 12/23/08

There are two local golf clubs in the news as of late.  Firstly, the local pols have apparently reached an agreement to get Erie Golf Club open again.  Here are a few of the particulars as recollected from the Erie Times newspaper article which was placed above the fold recently.  

The Federal Aviation Administration has deemed the process acceptable in that the current nine hole course near the airport will be carved up and converted to a six hole course.  This will save a lot of fussing around and make it easier for Millcreek Township to acquire the 18 hole course now owned by the City but deemed to be a money loosing black hole,

The Raptor knew from the get go that Mayor Sinnot and his Administration couldn't manage the moment...it's probable that they couldn't manage a paper bag.  The bottom line is the fact that Millcreek will make a go of this and turn Erie into a desirable and well run facility.  It may not end up being the finest golf club in the region but it will be a destination golf club for a number of interested parties including: seniors, high school teams, leagues and local fundraising tournament chairs.

There are a few aspects of the facility that will require some tweaking and as The Raptor has read, the Millcreek Administration has brought in architect, Gary Matczak to spruce up the clubhouse.  That is a plus.  Now if the greens crew can make some changes to the course, The Raptor believes Erie can be a gem.

On another front, our beloved Lake View County Club is about to celebrate Christmas in a big way.  It appears that the two Board of Directors at the facility have come to an agreement which will allow Lake View County Club to eliminate some cash flow killing debt presently being held by local banks in favor of an in house all purpose loan courtesy of the Stockholders of Lake View Country Developments Corporation. 

The details are sketchy at this moment so The Raptor will defer on additional comment.  It's just a pleasure to se some progress.  However, I can't let this positive development go by without a little constructive caveat.  If the remaining members somehow look at this gift as a mandate to continue on a destructive path of wasteful policy...the whole thing will come crashing down within three years.

Originally Posted on 12/08/08

Kahkwa Club vs Whispering Woods - A Comparison

Rules: The comparison is being done by matching the relative assigned values on the hole handicaps.  Of note here is that the match is done by par value. Therefore, the lowest rated par four would be matched  etc.

The first hole at the Kahkwa Club is rated as the number seven-handicap hole.   From the member tees the hole measures 369 yards and is a straight away no-nonsense par four.  At Whispering Woods Golf Club the par four that would most closely match up to this hole would be the ninth hole which is the number 5 handicap hole.   It is a uphill par four that measures 359 yards.  If we were to compare these two holes for degree of difficulty it would seem to me that the ninth hole at Whispering Woods is more challenging than the first hole at Kahkwa.

As far as par threes go we can compare the third hole at the Kahkwa Club to the second hole at Whispering Woods.  The third hole at Kahkwa club is a very dynamic par three.  It measures 140 yards from the blue tees.  It should be noted that the original tee box was located directly behind the second green but for some reason unknown to The Raptor the tee was moved approximately 20 to twenty five years ago.  The new tee box is tucked into the woods and requires a heroic iron shot over a large water pond.  Normally I hit a seven iron to this green. In comparing this hole to the second hole at Whispering Woods, whjich measures 152 yards from the blue tees, I would state for the record that the third hole at Kahkwa club is more difficult than the second hole at Whispering Woods.

The remaining par 4’s at a K club are of a variable and nature.  In comparing the difficulty factors of Kahkwa Club number nine with Whispering Woods number four is a challenge.  The ninth hole is one of my favorite holes at the K. club.  It measures 381 yards and it is wide open and rolling with a huge undulating bowl shaped green.  After hitting a decent drive the player is left with a good middle iron shot perhaps a six or five iron.  It would be my impression that that the average worst score that I could record here would be a bogey.  Comparing this to the fourth hole at Whispering Woods, I would state that I like the ninth hole at the Kahkwa Club versus the fourth hole at Whispering Woods.  The fourth at Whispering Woods measures a short 271 yards and is considered by many to be the Club's Signature Hole  It is is a survival hole.  It's easy to make a birdie and it's just as easy to make a triple bogey seven.  The Raptor has been struggling there as of late and needs to bear down in order to play it.

Another comparison would be the Kahkwa Club six hole and the Whispering Woods fifth hole which is a short easy 281 yards, but there is no comparison.  Again there is no comparison.  The Kahkwa Club sixth is a lengthy par four measuring almost 400 yards from the blue tees and 411 yards from the black tees.  Hitting an excellent drive will not guarantee that you can see the putting surface which is at the base of a deep incline.  This hole is as much a bear as the fifth hole at Whispering Woods is a cupcake.

The number seven hole at the Kahkwa Club and the first hole at Whispering Woods is an interesting comparison they are both difficult and require an excellent drive.  I would give the nod to the seventh hole at Kahkwa which measures 425 yards because of its challenging tee shot up a steep incline and green which is generally accessed with a long iron or fairway club.  The first hole at Whispering Woods, measuring 426 yards is a very tough par four.  From the blue tees, the drive must be carried over 180 yards over a deeo crevasse.  I believe it's easier to record a bogey five at number one at Whispering Woods then it would be to make a five at the seventh at the Kahkwa Club.

The comparison between the fifth hole at Kahkwa Club and the eighth hole at Whispering Woods is a difficult one.  Number five at the Kahkwa Club is the pen ultimate Donald Ross par four.  It measures 367 yards and is even referred to on the scorecard as "Vintage Ross".  The tee box is nestled among the trees in deep woods and it is imperative to hit your drive with a bit of a draw.  Too much of a draw brings the left tree line into play and makes for a difficult approach to a green, which sets on top of a steep incline.  The putting surface is extremely undulating and par is a rare commodity here

The eighth hole at Whispering Woods is a brute of a par four going downhill and stretching out over 420 yards.  Its fairway is one of the widest in the Erie County but it's still difficult to place your drive down the middle.  There are heavy woods to both the right and the left and there is a pond that comes into play on the right side but is hidden from the tee box.  Reaching the green at the eighth is very difficult as it is protected by a waste area or water swamp depending on the time of year.  The green is of a postage stamp nature and is slanted from right to left.  Par is a rare here for the average golfer. 

I would call it a draw. 

As far as par fives goes the only comparison on the front nine would be between the eighth hole at the Kahkwa Club and the seventh hole at Whispering Woods. Based on all factors I would give the nod to the seventh hole at Whispering Woods as being more challenging and more Mickey Mouseish.  By that I mean that the average golfer is befuddled by the hole from tee all the way to the putting surface.  There is out-of-bounds on the right and deep woods to the left.  The big hitter can avoid all the trouble unless a slip of the foot causes the long approach to duck hook into the woods.

Therefore the front nine has four holes for Kahkwa and two holes for Whispering Woods with one hole being a draw.  There was no comparison available for the 3rd hole (a par five) and the 6th hole (a par three) at Whispering Woods since there are not available holes at the Kahkwa Club to compare to.  The holes that are not matched at Kahkwa include the second and third holes which are par fours.

On the back nine we will compare the 10th holes in each course.  Whispering Woods 10th plays to a lengthy 451 yards from the blue tees while Kahkwa plays 365 yards. For sheer yardage it's obvious that Whispering Woods has a more difficult hole but Kahkwa’s 10th has a very difficult green. I would still give the nod to number 10 at Whispering Woods

A comparison of the two 13th holes is interesting.  I would give the nod to the 13th at the Kahkwa Club, which is an awesome par four with a yawning dogleg left pattern. There is also a big fairway bunker out in the driving area, which requires the player to hit a controlled tee ball.  A sand bunker in the rear of the putting surface collects mishit approach shots and an interesting false front, which can cause poorly struck approach shots to roll off the putting surface. The 13th hole at Whispering Woods is a short par four of 351 yards with quite a bit of hazardous terrain from tee to green.  The player must carry a crevasse known to many as "THe Raptor's Ravine" with the tee ball and then carry another crevasse to find a table top reen that is slightly elevated. The Raptor will give the nod to the Kahkwa’s 13th.

Comparing the two 16th holes at these facilities leads me to believe that the 16th at Whispering Woods is more challenging while the 16th at the Kahkwa club is more interesting.  I will give the nod to the 16th at Whispering Woods.

In comparing the 18th hole at the Kahkwa Club with the 17th hole at Whispering Woods it is almost a draw.  However the 18th at the K. club is one of the strongest par fours on the course and has a dynamite finish with a challenging green.  So The Raptor will give the nod to the Kahkwa club's 18th.

The 17th hole at the Kahkwa Club and the 18th hole at Whispering Woods make up our final comparison for the part fours.  They are both awesome holes. I like the 363 yard17th at the Kahkwa Club because there is out of bounds coming into play on the left and there is a fairway bunker system that can grab the tee ball on the right as well as the left and the bunkers are flanking or staggered which is totally awesome.  At the 18th at Whispering Woods which measures a deceptive uphill 402 yards, the player is faced with a number of challenges with par’s and birdies being rare and therefore The Raptor gives the nod to the 18th at Whispering Woods.

The par threes on the back nine match up one for Whispering Woods and one for Kahkwa with the 193 yard 15th at Kahkwa besting the 180 yard 14th at Whispering Woods based mostly on the tremendous drive required to reach the putting surface which is severely undulating.

The 11th at Whispering Woods, which measures 165 yards, while it somewhat bland having no bunkers of any kind but other characteristics along with an easy to hit putting surface make it a more enjoyable hole for The Raptor.  In addition there is a good deal of wild life hanging around the 11th, including deer, fox and turkey.  The 11th at Kahkwa is a challenging par three with a severly undulating green, but the 11th at WW looks super cool from the tee.

The Raptor gives both the par fives on the backside to Whispering Woods.  The 12th at Whispering Woods is trouble from tee to green, while the 14th at Kahkwa is challenging in it own right.  It’s just that the 12th at Whispering Woods and the 15th at Whispering Woods are more photogenic than the 14th and 12th at Kahkwa. That is really the deciding factor here.  

The final tally is eight holes to Whispering Woods, seven holes Kahkwa club, one hole draw.  Therefore the courses are relatively evenly matched.  If I could I would be a member at both…wouldn’t that be great?

Originally Posted on 10/05/08

Golf in Erie PA is a challenge on several fronts.  For starters the season is unique since it always contains a beginning, middle and end.  This same sequence can’t be duplicated in places like California, Texas and Florida where golf is played year round.  Even moving northerly to venues like Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach still allows for winter golf, even thought the weather can be inclement.

Erie in the spring is a crapshoot.  From early March until the middle of April, there is always a strong chance for snow.  This can wreck havoc on our golf courses.  As a result of these spring storms, a muddy mess can occur.  This year was no exception as a storm occurred on about March 28th, which dumped about six inches of the white stuff.

There had been some good weather in March and as a result some golf course had play then.  At The Raptor’s home course, Whispering Woods, an April 1st opening date was planned however, this was moved forward to about April 5th of 6th.

Another challenge to golfers is the surplus of courses that have become available at reasonable pricing.  Consider The Raptor’s old home away from home, Lake View, in North East, PA.  Lake View is in superb shape this year.  The Raptor played there last week and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The course was hard and fast with green speeds approached 11 or 12 on the Stimpmeter.  As a result, my score of 83 was considered a winner.

Lake View is undergoing a transformation and could be morphed into a semi-private facility come 2009.  At the heart of the matter is the cost of membership.  It has slowly crept to a monthly tab of almost $300.00 for a single player.  Rumors abound about it’s future and in good faith, The Raptor will not spread any that could be detrimental to Lake View’s ability to survive.

Trying to justify a golf membership at a private golf club or at a public facility can be a difficult proposition.  Back in 2004 and 2005, The Raptor began to feel the economic pinch of membership at Lake View and as a result, resigned from the club.  At that time I felt I was making the right decision for myself and my family but since then I have been getting feedback that I am a “misfit” and that I am not wanted by those who are left behind.

This type of jingoistic attitude is a common denominator for Erie.  It has always been an us versus them place.  So, when I played at Lake View on Friday, I bumped into some of the old gang, who inquired as to what I had been doing.  When I told one individual that I now played at Whispering Woods, his cart buddy said with a straight face “never heard of it”. 

This gets frustrating because some of these individuals “hate” Whispering Woods…and they have never even seen the place.  Others have “heard” that the golf course is too hard…so they won’t play it.  Still others have played the course once and have deemed it a “dump” or worse yet…a public club.

The newest Whispering Woods discussion point is the 2009 member fee.  For 2008, the Member Fee was $2,000.00 for some golfers.  For others who joined early on, the fee amounted to about $1,000.00 per year.  This figure did not include carts, which cost $15.00 per round.  At present, there are about 125 to 150 members…some of whom do not play more than a couple of rounds per year.

On several occasions in the recent past few weeks, folks have come to The Raptor seeking answers to that nagging question…how much for 2009?  This is big stuff in Erie, especially since Erie Golf Club is coming back into the mix.

The 2009 rate has fallen into a range between $2000.00 to $2,500.00.  This price range would include a green fee and cart…but, probably no driving range inclusion.  That fully exempt range rat will probably put out an extra $200.00 to $300.00 for a year’s membership.

The Raptor has had great fun listening to the wails and gnashing of teeth by Erie’s finest.  There are individuals who will not rejoin under any circumstance and I do not blame them.

It has since come to pass that the 2009 Whispering Woods Member rate is $2,100.00.  However, if you can form a group with three others that rate will lower to $2,000.00…Not bad.  So let’s play a numbers game and consider what a $2,000.00 Membership means to the average player.

The Raptor has played an average of 4 to 5 times per week since Whispering Woods opened.  This is primarily in the period between about May 15th to September 15th, which calculates to about 17 weeks of steady play.  Seventeen weeks times 4 rounds is 68 rounds while calculating a 5-week pace tallies to 85 rounds.  The Raptor had posted about 90 rounds by September 15th.  So, I am classifying my round count in the heavy category.

An individual who plays 3 times per week would tally about 50 rounds per year and an individual who plays two times per week would tally about 35 rounds per year. So it would be possible to classify these tallies as follows:

Round Count Per Year

Classification

35

Light

50

Moderate

65

Aggressive

80

Heavy

Using the Classifications established and plugging in the cost of a membership produces the following calculations

 

Round Count Per Year

Classification

Cost Per Round @ $2,100.00

35

Light

$57.00

50

Moderate

$40.00

65

Aggressive

$30.00

80

Heavy

$25.00

Using the recently announced $49.00 per round for Green Fee and Cart next year produces the following calculations

Round Count Per Year

Classification

Cost Per Year @ $49.00

35

Light

$1,615.00

50

Moderate

$2,650.00

65

Aggressive

$3,185.00

80

Heavy

$3,920.00

What do these calculations indicate?

First, Whispering Woods is a scremin’ deal of epic proportion.  The owners have placed the membership bar so low that many normal  red-blooded golfers will have no choice but to join the club.  If you are reading this and do not believe that you are living in a dream world.

More To Come… 

 

Originally Posted on 8/31/08

Labor Day is here and golf season has begun it's slow descent into the first signs of fall.  There is a chill in the air and the dew is heavy in the morning...sure signs of the fall season.

Golf in the fall is a fabulous reward for a region like Northwestern Pennsylvania.  The trees are splendid and the air is crisp with none of the offensive heat and humidity that we play in in July and August.

The Raptor looks back on this season and has deemed it a success for the most part.  For starters, a solid group has developed for The Saturday and Sunday game.  Included in this years gang were Ray, Frank, Rich, Ken, Chad and Tom.  Other groups included: Jack, John T, Bill and Dave plus Lou, David O, and Rick and Jim D, Jim P and Jeff.  Special thanks go out to Rob, Rich and Greg for their continued support.

The proshop did a bang up job and thanks go out to Rocky, Tony, Pat, Brian and Diane.  In addition, Lauren and Desiree and the Cart Gang (Scott, Zack, Bert and Brian).  Also thanks go out to the Greens Crew who kept the course in superb playing condition.

The highlights for The Raptor included: a 77 (June) and 79 (August 30th) from the Blue Tees which is going low (For The Raptor!).  A second place finish in the CPA Tournament (shooting 81 from LVCC's Blue Tees). The pairing with Lou in the EDGA Senior Better Ball which led to a second place finish.  On that day The Raptor shot 79 as well.  This time from the white tees.

The irony of this recent low scoring is the high scores that were interspersed including a 93 - 91 debacle in the WW Club Championship and a 94 in the EDGA Senior Tournament at Kahkwa.

The EDGA Senior was an extremely disappointing event.  The Raptor had played Kahkwa the week before and found the course to be excellent and suitable to promote some low scoring.  Unfortunately, the Kahkwa staff got frisky for the EDGA and set the course up long, hard and fast.  As a result scores were high.  Ron Coleman won with a fine 69 which include about 6 birdies and about 3 or 4 bogeys.  

The Raptor's playing group included: Lou (85), Jim D (87) and Jim P (92).  My 94 included two 9's one on 14 and the other on 17.  Other than those two meltdowns the rest of the round went smoothly including a birdie 3 on Kahkwa's 18th hole which is a 380 yard roller coaster.  Under normal conditions, a 85 would have been just fine, but the 94 left a sour taste in the mouth.

The WW Club Championship was also won by Ron Coleman.  Ron shot 74-75 from our Black tees and finished six shots ahead of David O and Jim D.  Our first flight winner was Nat Burnside, while Jim Piekanski won my flight with a super two day total of 83-80-163.  The final flight was won by John Torok

A season ending member guest is planned for this Saturday - the Raptor hopes to bribg out Larry Neizmik, Tom Burik and Rick Blakely to participate.

Originally Posted on 7/19/08

There is a constant discussion in the Erie area about the state of the golf business.  During the past 10 years, significant changes have occurred which have seriously depressed the local golf industry.

Consider:

The loss of the Nationwide Tour Event at Peek N’ Peak

The closing of Nevada Bob’s Golf

The closing of Pro-Golf Discount

The closing of Erie Golf Club

The elimination of waiting lists at venerable Golf Clubs like Kahkwa, Lake Shore, Lake View and Lawrence Park

The inability to complete the Harbor Ridge Project

This thread is presented in an effort to open up discussion on what has sure to be a hot button issue...that is the presentation about to occur at Lakeview Country Club on July 22nd, 2008.

The presenters are referred to as the “Debt Reduction Committee”.  This group has been organized by long time LVCC members Greg Farrell, Chuck Kownacki, and Brad Klomp as a means to explore methods to make Lake View a sound, going concern.

As it stands, our beloved club is on shaky ground.  For the past three to four golf seasons, the club has been hemorrhaging members.  It started simply enough.  Lake View went through a transition in the 2004 golf season that initiated the migration.

The story goes something like this.  A long range planning committee had been evaluating the state of the club and made sweeping recommendations to bring the club into a new and exciting direction.  The crucial plans included

The remodeling of many of the golf course’s tee boxes. 

The completion of the sand bunker project and the addition of strategically placed fairway bunkers to “toughen” up the course in anticipation of future marquee events such as EDGA and West Penn Tournaments

The addition of a short game practice facility

The addition of a radical water hazard in the 18th fairway to provide soil for the practice facility

In addition the clubhouse was to undergo a transformation as well with the addition of a plush locker room and a private grillroom for the members who required special accommodations.  It was generally thought that there were a core group of “serious” members who prided themselves on obnoxious behavior and therefore needed to be isolated so that offensive behavior could be promoted while leaving the regular grill room for the “lollipop” gang.

The lollipops were looked on with disfavor by the serious members since the lollies did not drink large quantities of beer and liquor but instead sucked up bottomless tanks of soda pop.

By constructing a wall to divide the grillroom, the serious members created a barrier that has broke up the harmony that existed at Lakeview for 40 years before.  In a relatively short period of time regular members bailed rather than support a club that was primarily benefiting the serious members.

As the member count plummeted from a lofty 375 heads in 2004 to less than 230 members at present, this loss of over 125 golfers to the budget has produced a whopping yearly shortfall of about $400,000.00 to $500,000.00 in revenue.

The Debt Reduction Committee has proposed to locate 50 “investors” who will provide $65,000.00 each in order to pay off the mortgage presently held by National City Bank.  The financing deal is costing $300,000.00 per year in interest charges.  Since there are less members to rely on, the principal amount has remained fixed…so the long-term result will be a failure.

The investors will be referred to as “Perpetual Members” (PM).  After the club by-laws are altered to recognize the Perpetual Members, the remaining class two members will support the yearly operating expenses through the dues that they pay.  Meanwhile the PM’s will pay no dues for the rest of their lives.  In addition, the PM’s would be capable of transferring their certificate to a replacement PM by paying a $2,500.00 fee to Lake View. PM’s would be the voting member.

Using the present member count this would result in 50 PM’s and 150 Class 2 members.  The Class 2 members would spend their $4,000,00 per year or $600,000.00, which would be used to maintain the golf course.  The clubhouse would be considered a separate part of the operation and would continue to be staffed by sub-contractors.

A challenge to the long-term stability of the club could result in eventual dissolving of the club in which case the PM’s would receive a settlement, which could be less than their original investment.

PM’s would still be subject to assessments.

There are several significant events that have led to this radical undertaking.  Those of you who have dug deeper into this site will recall that The Raptor wrote an analysis titled “The End Game” which predicted that the Lake View Club would spiral into failure subsequent to the buyout decision that was crafted almost 10 years ago.

Since then the serious member group has refused to reopen relations with Lake View Development Corporation, the original owner of Lake View’s Golf Course and Clubhouse.  The serious members arrogance and the Development Board of Directors who represent the conservative and relatively obscure North East Community at large exacerbate the situation.  It should be noted that the serious members generally reside in Erie and more specifically Millcreek and Fairview.

It is highly unlikely that the PM’s and the LVDC will ever see eye to eye.  The reason…its arrogance versus conservatism.  These two groups will pace around the proverbial ring like boxers for several years and the result will be a stalemate.

The Raptor wishes the PM Group the best of luck…they will surely need it.

Originally Posted on 6/8/08

April and May have come and gone and golf season is now rolling.  The Raptor has posted over 25 rounds at his home club - Whispering Woods with some unfavorable results.  However, after some poor play in the rain and chill of May, scoring has improved and The Raptor's handicap is prepared to tumble from 13 to 11.

The Raptor has been waiting with baited breath for the management of our course to come up with a plan for our members for next golf season.  Up till now it has been a steady stream of innuendo and heresay regarding a deal of some sort.

At stake is the momentum that has developed around a core group of 75 to 100 members who presently support the club with frequent visits and participation in club sponsored events.  Most of the member class have been patient for a number of reasons.

The first issues which raise the red flag are the driving range and the clubhouse.  Third on the list of question marks is the ill fated practice green.  Last season, the management tore out the original green and totally rebuilt it using state of the art construction techniques.  Unfortunately, the green has been slow to mature and remains closed.  The chance that putts will be struck on it before July 4th are slim to none.

The driving range has been another sore subject with members who have a feeling they were sold a "bill of goods"  The Raptor feels this is far from true.  Anyone who realistically joined WW last year thinking that an operational range would be open this year are in the 20 watt bulb range (dim).  The range got off to a slow start this year due to permit issues which restricted progress till the end of May...Then with the coupling of the airification of the golf course greens which backfired...the range remains pretty much a massive jumble of bramble and felled trees.

The 18 greens on the course were plugged or (drilled, punched, holed or airified), on or about May 5th and 6th have been bumpy and crappy since.  Last week the turf care group laid down some top dress and also performed a verticut to remove some thatch.  This seems to have smoothed out the putting surfaces a little...so relief is near.  But everyone is a little hurt by the airification process.  Let's face it, plugging greens never works exactly right...never.

The clubhouse issue also has major ramifications.  Up till now the members have been content to utilize the area under the tent...or perhaps sit around in the parking lot.  Eventually this will change when some sort of clubhouse is built.  But what kind of building will it be.  The problem is with the players.  It's a plain Jane fact that people don't really like other people.  She it is going to require some savvy marketing and promotion to make the clubhouse work...More to come on this critical issue.

So with that being said, the management has floated a price tag of $2,250.00 for next years membership.  The figure will encompass all green fees, cart usage and range privileges.  This is a fair figure as far as I am concerned.

 

Originally Posted on 5/19/08

Golf season is in full swing this year for a number of reasons.  First, Erie had another harsh winter that lasted virtually from the middle of November until the beginning of April.  A series of late season snow events moved the start dates for many local courses to around April 7th.

However, once the snow melted, the golf has been plentiful but the courses have been wet.  While total rainouts have been rare, The Raptor has had to don the Gore-Tex outfit on several occasions.

Scoring has been a challenge.  With over 15 rounds posted since the start of the season, most of my scores have been around 90.  Recently, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and a fine 82 from the Blue Tees resulted which included three birdies.

Just this past Saturday, another three birdie round led to a 87.  It should be noted that the windy conditions resulted in a number of unforced errors.

My home club, Whispering Woods is staging our first club tournament of the year on Saturday.  The format will be a three man scramble.  I am looking forward to playing in order to help promote some "budship" at our club.

The Raptor had a surgical procedure on right elbow in November of last year.  The effect has been positive for the most part.  It is hopeful that my strength capability will improve as well.  Up till now, the results have been a mixed bag.  My tee ball has been fine but my iron and short game have been suspect.

The Raptor has determined that I can play WW with 6 clubs. Driver, 5 wood, 5 iron wedge, sand wedge and putter. 

Tuesday's have been interesting.  WW has a nine hole skin game which is not a money making venture by any stretch, but it is fun to get a game going.

Phase 3 - Entered 12/3/07 (Here is a gem that arrived to The Raptor though the email - it was sent to me by a good friend and it is ultra boss!)

Old men play golf differently than the rest of us. Some play it well and some play it poorly but, as a class, their journey from the first tee to the last is worth studying. You can both improve your score and deepen the game's pleasures by paying attention when the elders lace up their spikes.

 

My own education began in a foursome that included three artificial joints:  two hips and a knee. The orthopedic hardware was bolted to the bones of three men in their eighties, all residents of a gated community in South Carolina . I joined them for a round during an annual visit.  They eyed me warily as I walked toward them with the starter. I learned later that my own age was almost a deal breaker. As a reasonably fit "kid" of fifty, they feared I might disrupt the octogenarian rhythms of their round. We exchanged greetings, handicaps, picked teams and teed off.   What followed was a post-graduate education in good manners, good fellowship and, in the end, what's so good about the game.  Like many retirees, they drove flamboyant golf carts: custom paint jobs, sound systems, flashy hood ornaments. There was the unmistakable echo of the Chryslers and Cadillac's they drove fifty years ago.   One, apparently the group's quartermaster, had a year's supply of pencils and scorecards at the ready, wrapped in rubber bands and meticulously arranged in what, otherwise, appeared to be a medicine cabinet: Advil, prescription meds, band-aids, tubes of mentholated muscle cream, disinfectant and multiple grades of sun block. Sir Edmund Hillary conquered Everest with fewer provisions. Clearly, this would be no ordinary round of golf. This was a pilgrimage and the lessons unfolded on every fairway.


Golf Cartography - Old guys frequently have an encyclopedic knowledge of the natural world.  After all, they've spent seven or eight decades walking around in it.  If you're lucky, they'll map out the golf course for you, its landmarks, landscape and wildlife. Learning that your ball has come to rest under a "bougainvillea" and not a generic "bush" may be small consolation but it will better connect you to the golf course and, as the details accumulate, sharpen your appreciation of its architecture.  Knowing that the bird cartwheeling overhead is an American kestrel can turn an out-of-bounds tee shot into an occasion of wonder. Stop counting strokes and give more thought to the canvas you are playing on.


There's No Swing Like An Old Swing - Their swings are miraculously constructed.  In the best of them, there's a hint of the 50's Ben Hogan; in the worst, homage to the same decade's Bob Hope.  In all of them, you'll see ingenious compensations for body parts that don't work quite as well as they used to. Their swings aren't uniformly pretty but they're predictably consistent and give new meaning to the term "muscle memory".  Remember, they've been tutoring their neuromuscular junctions since Ike was in the White House. Because their testosterone is taking flight, they worship at the altar of timing and tempo more than young Turks do. During your next round, genuflect with them and watch your score improve.

 

Splendor in the Grass: Because they grew up during America ' first mass exodus to the suburbs, these guys love to landscape. They repair divots and rake bunkers unfailingly. They minister to ball marks on the green as if they were bruises on a granddaughter's arm. They know, from the hard-won experience of guarding their own health, that living things need looking after. Whether you play at a private club or a pockmarked muni, leave every golf hole in better shape than you found it.


Take a Lesson - Remember, you're in the presence of men who have stopped punching the clock and can still afford a tee time. They have more or less successfully retired. They may not be able to lead you to the next Google, but any elder foursome can be full of sage advice on money, marriage and generally managing your life. Ask them about their lives and careers, turning points and blunders. Take notes.  The Wonders of the Wager: With their business careers behind them, a golf wager awakens a slumbering will to win. It is a kind of business deal, isn't it? Strokes are ferociously negotiated and the stakes, typically small, are agreed upon. They started playing golf when Byron Nelson ruled the sport and a buck was still a buck. It's not about the cash, it's about the contest and the unspeakable pleasure of extracting another ten spot from the flinty, New Englander they've been playing with since 1975. Bet smart, bet small, and play fiercely down the stretch.

 

The Killer Short Game - Every golfer has had a $5 Nassau from his grasp as some old guy gets up and down on a crucial hole. This is their wheelhouse, where they swallow the indignity of being out-driven by seventy yards, offer a sly wink and go one-up on the match. Because they're on life's final lap, they know that how you start matters less than how you finish.  Inside 20 yards, this wisdom is decisive. It doesn't hurt, of course, to have memorized every subtle swale on the golf course and they have! If you are lucky enough to meet one of these masters of the short game, share a beer with him after the round and pick up a tip or two.


Enjoy the Journey - When you tee it up with a man in his eighties, you might well be witness to his final round.  As fit a fellow as he seems, the basic laws of probability insist that next week's foursome may be a man short and he knows it.  I thought more than once when one of my foursome made his way to the bottom of a bunker that he may never come out and that he might not mind that at all.  This must explain, in some measure, the simple joy they take in the journey. They generally play without anger or angst and, in an age of ball caps worn backwards and brawling basketball teams, they'll connect you to a gentler time.  They are the game's true historians and the keepers of its enduring civility. That golf remains such a grand, old game is largely thanks to the grand, old men who continue to play it.

AMEN!

Phase 2 - Entered 9/22/07

It's been over six months since this site has been open and The Raptor has been gratified by the number of positive comments made regarding the content and direction that the site has taken.  Please head to the Whispering Woods chapter for some important updates.

Phase 1 - Entered 2/25/07

I can remember it like it was yesterday.  The date is difficult to pin down but the story goes like this.  When I was 8 years old, I got for a birthday present, a nine iron and putter from my Aunt Sallie and Uncle Dan.  This was March of 1964.  I believe that the impetus of this present was my exposure to one Arnold Palmer in the previous 2 to 3 years.

Arnie was hot in 1964.  He had won 4 Masters, a couple of British Opens and a legendary US Open In 1960.  He was all over TV and was featured on such popular shows as the Wonderful World of Golf.  The tournaments that he lost in these years were as legendary as the ones that he won.

Who could not feel Arnie's pain when he lost the Open at Oakmont in 1962 and then turned around and lost it again in 1963.  In addition, Arnie seemed to crash and burn every year in the PGA and in one memorable Masters, he came to the 18th hole with a lead and produced a double bogey to loose.  Ouch!

One moment that still stands out for me came from some tournament that was on TV, I saw Arnie make a put with a very protracted break that the announcer called an eagle. Naturally, the crown went nuts.  It was this large break in the putt that I associated with an eagle and it was not until years later when I started to actually play golf that I learned that the eagle was a 3 on a par five.

Arnie pretty much was awful in the late 60's and he one his last PGA tournament in about 1973...I believe it was the Bob Hope..Arnie even wore glasses!  But I still remember Arnies shining moments..  In addition, The Raptor remember many of his shining moments while golfing and he invites you to check out it's content.

 

 

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