The Raptor  

Your Bridge To The Greatest Generation

 

The Raptor's Golf Highlights Page Created 7/29/2007 Modified 8/31/2008

 

 

Year Event Comment
1968 First Round Played in the spring, date unknown, but originally though to be in March under especially balmy weather conditions.  Venue was the Glenwood 9 Hole course.  Shot a score of 66.  Am not sure how I remember this.  I do remember one feature of Glenwood that's no longer there and that is the huge wooden bridge that spanned the creek that cut through the first fairway about 100 yards from the tee.
1970 First Eagle This was at the previously mentioned Glenwood course on the third hole.  After hitting a drive to the top of the hill about 150 yards from the green, The Raptor clobbered a Butchart Nichols 4 iron with a "Nimrod" ball into the cup!

Later that year, The Raptor lost the special ball in a muddy swamp that formed on the fifth hole...bummer

1976 Team Medallist The Raptor was capable enough to play on the Penn State Behrend golf team.  In a moment of total irony, The Raptor shot 86 at the New Castle Country Club and was team medallist.. I still remember Mike Litowkin lamenting about. it.
1983 Join Lake View Country Club For the previous 3 or 4 golf seasons, The Raptor played at such splendid courses as Downing, Erie and Overlake.  In May of 1983, The Raptor spotted an ad in the newspaper which advertised for immediate membership with a $550.00 initiation...It was the beginning of the end
1985 East Erie Turners Golf Event - Low Gross Champ The Raptors one and only tournament victory.  Shooting 75 on the Lawrence Park Club.  It was a fabulous day with plenty of food and refreshment.
1989 The Masters 1989 was a busy year for The Raptor as our wedding was set for the third week of April and in anticipation of the big day The Raptor drove to Augusta Georgia with two friends (Kevin and Tom) to watch the practice round portion of the Tournament.  We drove out of Erie on a Sunday and all of the driving was done Kevin who basically was sitting at the wheel for 12 hours from Erie to Augusta.  

While there we were fortunate to see all of golf's big stars of the era, including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Fuzzy Zoeller, Greg Norman, Mark Calcavecchia, Andy Bean and Bernhard Langer.

The highlight of the trip was all of the photos The Raptor took of the course several on which were enlarged to framed versions which grace The Raptor's golf room.

Augusta National is a very hilly course and by the time we left for home, The Raptor was a basket case.  It was the drivers decision to once again drive the 700 miles back to Erie.  After we had gone about 200 miles, my legs started to cramp up and The Raptor basically became a puddle.  So, Kevin and Tom agreed to do a stop over at a Holiday Inn somewhere in North Carolina.  Then we returned to Erie the next morning

1989 US Open The Raptor and wife attended the 1989 US Open at Oak Hill CC in Rochester in conjunction with our wedding which occurred in April.  We like to look back on this as our honeymoon.  Included in the week was a stopover in Buffalo to play the Crag Burn Club.  We also drove to Toronto and stayed in a lakefront high rise condo courtesy of one of the wife's co-workers.  While in Toronto, we went to the top of the CN Tower and attended a ball game at the recently opened Toronto Sky Dome.

The Open was awful.  It rained every day that we were there.  The golf was great and the eventual winner, Curtis Strange was staying at our hotel as were several other pros, including Hubert Green, Seve, Woosie, Jose Maria Canadian Pro Richard Zokol, Hale Irwin and Steve Jones.

Every day, we went to the course and tried to walk around but it was a muddy mess.  One day, four golfers all made aces at the par 3 6th hole.  Unfortunately we happened to be stationed at the next tee and missed all of them.

In one of the early rounds, while stationed at the fifth tee we chatted with Nick Faldo and we saw many of the greats close up including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Davis Love and Mark Calcavecchia.

Eventually we would walk up to the 18th hole and sit in the grandstand.  It was a very memorable experience in that respect.

1989 Golf At Glen Abbey

During our honeymoon trip to the 1989 US Open, we made a detour to Toronto and played at the Glen Abbey.  The Jack Nicklaus design was home to the Canadian Open and the wife and I looked forward to a super round of golf on a challenging course.

 Unfortunately, the course was in rough shape and several of the greens were covered and temp greens were in place.  We enjoyed the company of two Japanese businessmen who had traveled from Tokyo specifically to play the Glen.  One anecdote that bears mention was the fact that it was impossible to obtain a membership in a club in Japan due to the small number of private clubs coupled with a burgeoning golf population.  Therefore, it was easier (and cheaper) to fly somewhere else in the world to play golf.  In addition, in Japan, tee off times were generally made one year in advance…which is harsh.

The highlight to any trip to the Glen is the 18th hole.  It was made memorable by Tiger Woods when he laced a 6 iron out of a bunker which settled inched from the on his way to victory in the Canadian Open.  However, years before Tiger’s fete, The Raptor hit a quality drive (from a forward tee) and carried a 4 iron over the hazard to the back of the green and two putted for par which was nice.

1989 Shoot 78 in First Day Of LVCC Club Championship Great round - very happy - miss cut - totally pissed off
1990 Pinehurst #2 It had been decided to visit Pinehurst in 1990 as a prelude to the birth of our daughter.  The highlight of the visit was the #2 course and the decision to purchase a piece of property which included a membership in the Pinehurst County Club.
1991 Couples Tournament - Toronto Canada After meeting Rick and Anne in Pinehurst the previous year, Krista and I were invited to play at their home course in a couples better ball tournament.  Not only did our team win, but Rick scored a double eagle on one of the par 5's
1994 US Open and OJ In 1994, the Open was held at Oakmont.  The wife and I went on Friday and had a plan that involved watching Arnold Palmer play in his last Open.  Unfortunately, it was hot...like 100 degrees hot.  So as Arnie got closer to the grandstands of 18, we were getting hotter and more exhausted.  Finally, when Arnie was playing the 17th hole, we decided to drive back to Erie to watch the highlights of his round.

What happen next is the stuff of legend.  That was the day that OJ Simpson and Al Cowlings had the slow speed chase in LA and when we arrived in Erie, the Open was preempted and I ever got to see Arnie.  Needless to say, The Raptor was displeased.

1997 to 2005 The Battle Of The Lakes

The Battle of The Lakes is a tournament that was conceived approximately 10 years ago as a way to match up players from Lake Shore and Lake View in a Ryder Cup format event designed to promote sportsmanship and camaraderie.  The event was held in May and was basically a golf and dinner type deal

During its tenure the tournament has followed two paths.  The first 6 events belonged to Lake Shore while the past 4 or 5 have gone Lake View’s way.  The Raptor came on the scene after a couple of the early matches and teamed up with Dave Cipriani at LVCC in about 1997 for his first go around.  We were matched against Pete Petruso and Ron Domian, two of Lake Shore’s finest.  As near as can be recalled, the weather was crappy with some chilly temps and rain. The Raptor was thoroughly trounced by Domian in this match which was held at LV and then was trounced by Ron again the following year when the match was held at Lake Shore.  Cipriani on the other hand was a capable match player who beat up on Petruso handily.

Later on in the series, The Raptor played much better and started to win matches against tough opposition.  One match that comes to mind was a barnburner at LV against Barry Zembower.  Barry played well all day, but The Raptor played better and ground out a total victory.  The win was punctuated by a classy 4 iron approach at LV’s first hole into a strong breeze that settled near the hole for a tap in birdie.  Barry Z was extremely agitated by this shot and looked at me with extreme prejudice for the remainder of the match.

A couple of years later, The Raptor played against another tough competitor from LS named Leon Biliewicz.  Leon had a solid all around game but was confounded by the treacherous LV greens and did not play his best.  The Raptor played extremely well and knocked in several lengthy putts to again claim a total victory.

The Raptor looked on the yearly event with anticipation and always enjoyed the fine food prepared by the staff’s of the host club.

1998 Play On LVCC Interclub Team

The LVCC Interclub team has always been an elite group of some of the best golfers in Erie County.  Some of the tournament tested players include: Dario Cipriani, Dave Hewett, Homer and Mike Capotis, Rick Carlotti, Ellery Tarbell and Don Fessler Jr.  In the spring of 1998, The Raptor was fortunate indeed to make the team. 

 For most of the first 15 years that The Raptor was a member of LV, the prior year club champion had the honor of selecting the interclub team.  This was considered an honor in itself since the LV Team was always strong enough to win which allowed the team members to garner some much needed float merchandise money in the pro shop where the match was held. 

On the other hand, in 1998, in an egalitarian move considered by many to be a little heavy handed, the tradition of picking the team was changed to a hybrid method whereby 8 of the 10 spots were locked in based on the prior year club championship, while the remaining two spots were awarded to players who were the low scores in a qualifying tournament to be held the week before the Interclub.

Due to extremely poor weather conditions, the qualifying tournament was “rained” out.  Therefore, the spots were awarded to the only two golfers who were dumb enough to come out to the club that day.  The Raptor and Chuck Kownacki.

The Interclub Event was held at the venerable Erie GC that year.  Needless to say, The Raptor played poorly and failed to break 80 on a relatively easy par 69 course, shooting a humiliating 81.  This was in part due to some jittery shot making early in the round that fluffed up the score.  The Raptor recalls the setting vividly as I was in one of the final groups and as Chuck and I were playing the 16th hole, we were receiving words of encouragement from the gallery behind the green.

It was apparent that the match was extremely close between LVCC and an Erie team that included some solid ball strikers like Chris Keim, Mike Slupski, Dave Lehner and Lou Gashgarian.  It was Homer Capotis who came to the green and inquired about our score.  The Raptor felt demoralized because of my poor play.  Fortunately, others on the team delivered in the clutch and LVCC ultimately won the Interclub by one stroke.

This allowed The Raptor to pick up a quality Ball Cap and some golf balls from the well stocked pro shop of George Munro.  It was…another feather in The Raptor’s cap!

1999 to 2004 The ROTO Cup

The ROTO Cup was a similar event to the Battle of The Lakes that pitted about 16 to 20 of Lake View’s finest golfing/party players against Lawrence Park’s best. 

 The Lake View team was comprised of notables such as Rob “Roto” Nicotra, Dave “Chief” Antolik, Keith “Skeeter” Camp, Kirk “Kiki” Kniedinger, John “Johhny A” Alberico, and Mark “Kapper” Kackprowicz. Larry “Skinny Boy” Neizmik, David Lynch and Brian “Heitzy” Heitzenrater.

The Lawrence Park Team consisted of Chuck Faulkner, Erik Amendola, Rob Curry, John Patterson, Dan Skryczak, Jamie Neumaier, Rick Federici, Norm Boetger and Ted Grassi.

The Raptor recalls that generally LV bested LP except for one event, which was held at LP.  The other 4 events were won by LV.  While the specifics are limited, The Raptor recalls that in one event contested at LV, The Raptor bested Jamie Neumaier handily in both scoring and consumption which earned The Raptor some special props.  Generally, the event had some cash prizes for skins etc and for low team too.  I think that on one occasion, Skinny Boy and The Raptor played well enough to earn low team honors…which was nice. 

On another occasion, The Raptor was paired with Kiki Kneidinger who was running late and it almost turned sour until Kiki arrived and saved the day.  The Raptor was a little down due to Kiki’s absence and fell down two holes right off the bat.  Fortunately, Kiki arrived on the third hole and the match tipped in our favor.  As I recall, we won the match and our match was the deciding factor in a team victory.

1999 Lakeview 3 Day Member Guest - 2nd Place Played in three of these three days.  Our first attempt resulted in a 7th place finish, our second resulted in a last place finish and our third resulted in 2nd place which was an achievement of epic proportions 
1999 The Raptor Plays Firestone

In the fall of 1999, Tom Bean organized an outing to hallowed Firestone Country Club in Akron Ohio.  It seems one of T’s brother-in-laws was a member and we got to play for a nominal fee.

 There were eight individuals in the group.  Tom, The Raptor, Don Fessler, Tom Fessler RDD, Ellery, Skinny Boy and Barney.  Everyone except Tom and Don Fessler drove to Akron the previous evening due to the early (7:30AM) tee time.  We stayed in a motel close to the course and partied at a Fridays while watching some baseball and football. 

Since it was the fall, the condition of the course was a little rough.  The greens had been punched but had healed slightly.

Here is a card of the course to help explain what happened next.

HOLE

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

OUT

 

 CHAMPIONSHIP 75.1/128

399

497

442

471

200

469

219

452

484

3633

 

 MEMBER 71.2/122

372

478

335

366

182

413

147

406

442

3141

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Differential

27

19

107

105

18

56

72

46

42

492

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOLE

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

IN

TOTAL

 CHAMPIONSHIP 75.1/128

410

370

180

471

467

221

667

400

464

3650

7283

 MEMBER 71.2/122

387

355

165

439

371

159

583

374

435

3268

6409

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Differential

23

15

15

32

96

62

84

26

29

382

874

 This was solely The Raptor’s fault and to this day he marks it down as his worst tactical decision ever rendered in conjunction with a golf round. 

As The Raptor perused the score card, he was trying to fathom which course to play.  The Championship course is almost 7,300 yards while the Member course was a more manageable 6,400 yards.

I went to the collective and mentioned this and stated that even though the motivation was to play the course the way the pros play, I felt that the round would be difficult and in most cases I would be hitting drivers and 3 woods to most of the par 4’s.  The course had two par 5’s (2 and 16).  Some of the other’s decided that they might play the shorter tees as well.

As I had mentioned earlier the two Fesslers had elected to drive to Akron from Erie on the day of play and due to some unforeseen circumstance, they were running late.  Since we were not able to consult with them as we were on the tee as they arrived, there was a genuine air of disappointment on their part because the two of us waiting, Bean and myself were hitting from the member tees instead of the championship tees.

While my round went pretty much as planned scoring around 85, I could tell that Don was very down as he had driven all that way and paid all that money (about $200.00) to play the short course.

There were a few bright spots during the course of the round.  One that comes to mind is the 18th hole which was our ninth hole of the day.  Up to that point the round was a mixed bag with some pars and bogeys and one stumble on the par 5, 16th which led to a double.  It should be noted that that hole is a bear from the member tees at 583 yards.  But, try adding another 84 yards and the hole becomes insane.  After hitting a solid drive at 18, The Raptor was left with about 180 yards and crushed a perfect 4 iron to the back of the green to a pin position which afforded me a chance at birdie.  Unfortunately, I lipped out the bird and settled by par.

The front nine was also a mixed bag.  Unfortunately I do not remember much about the golf course except that the 3rd and 4th were each over 100 yards longer from the championship tees and were relatively easy from the member tees.

2001 71 on Par 72 Golf Course Shooting under par has got to be the goal of every avid golfer.  In June, 2001 this dream came true for The Raptor.  The date was a Saturday, the day after the annual LVCC Pro-Am, which The Raptor played in.  The Raptor passed on the early Saturday game and instead elected to play with a frequent partner, Skinny Boy.  It was our plan to have a relaxing Saturday afternoon and with the weather outstanding and the course in excellent playing condition, we set out.

We were joined on the fifth hole by Roto, another LVCC member.  As near as The Raptor can recall, the front nine was played in 1 under 35 and the back nine in even par 36.  I also recall that starting on the 14th hole my pals started to give me words of encouragement and I somehow managed to hold it together for the lowest score of my playing career.

2002 Golfweek Readers Event - Pinehurst See overview in another section called Memories of Pinehurst
2002 Net 57 Playing in LVCC July stag with Dave Irwin, The Raptor and "Tree" lapped the field and won the better ball event.  Tree shot a 68 and The Raptor shot 78 to take the top prize and shoot a net 57 which has been thought to be the competitive low score for a stag at LVCC
2004 Mayors Cup Golf Event This was a fundraising spectacular that featured 120 players and was a super day all around.  
2006 Near Ace - Boys Of Summer Golf Event The Boys of Summer is a group of players who played for years at the now closed Erie Golf Club.  Their defacto leader is Dave Lehner, who The Raptor played team golf with while at Penn State Behrend.  The Raptor had the honor of assisting Dave with the organization of event and one of the prizes was hole in one cash prize for an ace on Erie's 4th Hole.  A 180 yard par three.

Playing in the last group with Dave and two other individuals, The Raptor laced a three iron directly at the flagstick and according to Lehner's reaction the ball rolled right over the hole.  The Raptor was almost $5,000.00 richer

2007 First Ace Read about The Raptor's first hole-in-one elsewhere in this site
2008 Classic Swing Team Match

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.

Tonight's story centers around a recent golf match held at Whispering Woods Golf Club.  This past Wednesday, June 11th, The Raptor joined four golf enthusiasts including Dave Hewett, Rick Carlotti, Lou Natalie and Doug Villella for a 4:30 tee time.

When there are five players in the group, we generally play a match called a "Swing Team".  On this evening the balls of the five players were flung in the air and the two in closest proximity turned out to be The Raptor and Dave Hewett.  This is generally not a good thing since playing three Nassau games against the likes of Carlotti, Natalie and Villella could prove hazardous to ones wallet.

The match started a little late due to Carlotti's work schedule.   We finally got off the tee at around 5:00 The scores and the swing team matches were as follows:

HDCP 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
David O 3 5 3 5 4 4 3 5 5 4 38 4 3 5 3 3 5 4 4 4 35 73
Raptor 11 4 4 4 5 4 4 6 4 4 39 5 2 5 5 2 5 5 5 4 38 77
Rick Carlotti 4 4 3 5 6 4 3 5 5 5 40 4 3 5 4 3 4 4 4 5 36 76
Lou Natalie 6 5 3 6 4 4 4 6 4 5 41 5 3 5 5 3 5 5 4 6 41 82
Doug Villella 10 4 4 4 6 4 4 6 4 5 41 5 4 7 5 3 4 4 5 4 41 82
Rick/Lou -1 -1 -2 -2/E -2/E -2/E -2/E -3/-1 -4/-2 E -1 -2 -3/-1 -4/-2 -4/-2/E -4/-2/E -4/-2/E -5/-3/-1
Rick/Doug E E E -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -2 E -1 -2 -3/-1 -4/-2 -3/-1/+1 -3/-1/+1 -3/-1/+1 -3/-1/+1
Lou/Doug E E E E E -1 -2 -2/E -3/-1 E -1 -2 -3/-1 -4/-2 -3/-1/+1 -3/-1/+1 -3/-1/+1 -3/-1/+1

If you are an avid golfer you will recognize a true shellacking.  The Raptor and David O prevailed every conceivable way.  The key holes on the front nine were 3 (where The Raptor made a birdie) and 8 and 9 where The Raptor drained lengthy putts of 40 and 30 feet respectively to score dramatic pars which tilted the match in the favor of Hewett and The Raptor.  The surfer will also note that The Raptor scored an impressive 39 from the blue tees.  This my friends was indeed a grand event.

The surfer will note several key holes on the back nine.  These include, hole 11 where The Raptor drained a 50 foot cross county putt for a winning birdie.  Then on the 12th hole, The Raptor hit three excellent shots to reach the green in regulation and make a two putt par.  After a brief interlude on hole 13 where The Raptor made a bogey five, The Raptor then struck a cruel blow at the 14th with a superb approach using a 4 iron which was coupled with a dramatic 25 foot birdie putt which slammed dunked into the center of the cup.

It should be noted that on the previously mentioned 13th, David O had scored a dramatic birdie three after hitting his approach from one of the sand bunkers which are about 150 yards from the green.

So by the time The Raptor had made the dramatic bird at the 14th, The match had tilted heavily in the swing teams favor.  Doug Villella then made an impressive birdie on 15 which overshadowed The Raptors par putt of 20 feet.  The remainder of the match was interesting in that Doug Villella made a super long par putt which under normal circumstances would have turned his two matches to a -2/E/+2 outcome, however, The Raptor then made a 10 foot par putt to preserve all of the matches.

The end result was a total pounding which allowed The Raptor and David O to win 13 matches.  Hot Damn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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