I just competed in my 26th consecutive City Championship (one year the tournament was not held as the course was undergoing renovation). It is a three-day stroke play tournament with the final day flighted (8 flights) based on the prior two days’ results. At no time during those 26 tournaments did I ever have a chance to win the championship; I continue to play as a challenge to myself.
We get all kinds of players looking to see how they will do under three days of tournament pressure. This year’s winner, a former pro baseball pitcher, shot +3 over the three days (70/71/78). Last place was +91 (118/92/97). I finished in the middle of the 3rd flight (88/81/85).
At nearly 64 I could be some of the entrant’s grandfather. As such, I had relatively modest goals: keep it under 90 every day, finish in the top half of the field, beat my two senior friends, Marty and Pat. I accomplished all my goals but not without some stressful moments during the opening round. My swing pretty much abandoned me on day one and I had to put up a furious rally on the last couple holes to scratch out some pars and finish a miserable 88. Pat decided the course/event was too tough and did not play this year. Marty and just over half of the field played shittier than I so my mission was accomplished. I am mildly disappointed in my play. I did not come close to my personal best in either a single round score (78) or total (240) from 2010. Oh well, there is always next year.
A few observations:
· We used to get much greater participation, 156 players in 3-somes going off 1 & 10 in a morning and afternoon wave. Plus, there was a waiting list. Now it is hard to get 100 players interested in competing. I suspect we have a few things at work here. First, our local newspaper stopped publishing 5-6 years ago. There was always a big spread on the tournament but now there is very little public information out there without actually going to the course or website. Second, younger players seem less interested in committing to the time it takes to play in a 3-day tournament. Last, there is more competition from “amateur tours.” Also the state association sponsors more events that are played on a “net” basis and are open to everyone. These events typically are 1 day so the commitment is not as great.
· There are quite a few players out there that can really hit the ball, 300 yards and mostly straight. I need to figure out a way to squeeze a few more yards out of my game (without moving to AZ!).
· Many players are clueless about even the most basic of Rules. I don’t understand why someone would enter a tournament and not know the most common Rules. One member of my threesome had no idea how to take a drop for an unplayable. He neither knew the difference between a water hazard and a lateral water hazard nor the options available for relief. This was not his first tournament; he had participated in another City’s championship for 10 years. One can only wonder what Rules he trampled in the past decade.
· In golf nothing quite feels as good as playing well in the heat of competition. On the flip side, nothing is more agonizing than to see the stroke count keep going up as one collapses under competitive pressure.