I was involved in some big money games back in the day. Usually it was rich guy A tells rich guy B that his boy is better, etc…and I would get a piece of what I won, but had no risk.
One day it was different. I was on a stretch of some unbelievable golf. I played in a “quota” game almost every day that was kind of like the stableford they used to play at The International. It was with a bunch of members at PGA West who were my friends. Basically I had to shoot 67 or 68 to have any chance of winning any money, which on my home course, I did quite often.
Leading up to this story, I had gone through a 6 day stretch where I was over 40 under par and broke two of the course records. One of the guys who was a friend of a friend of someone in the group and didn’t know me or my game at all, started mouthing off about my game after a few too many cocktails.
Said my game wasn’t worth a damn and only my length was a factor. He got pretty personal and being young and arrogant, I was ready to ask him to step outside. He reeled it in a bit and said if length wasn’t a factor and the money was big, I couldn’t do squat.
If I recall, he was a 6 handicap and I said that we would play a set of tees where our drives would end up in a similar place, I would give him 4 a side and play him for whatever he wanted.
(I know, I know, I could have been a lot less generous with the parameters, but I wanted to embarrass this clown.)
He said with a huge grin, “How about a $1000 Nassau?” Assuming I would back down.
I said, “How about $2000?”
He was stunned and didn’t know what to do, so he said OK. I played from the 7000 yard tees and he played around 6200.
A few days later we played. I didn’t play that well and he played about his game and we were even after nine and decided to carry all the bets over to the back, so it was worth $6000.
We came to 17 all even. 17 on the Palmer Course at PGA West is a very narrow green that boarders the mountain on the right and a canal on the left. The pin was in the back of the green, about 145 for me and about 110 for him. Where that pin was located, the mountain to the canal was only about 40 feet and the back tee is elevated. A very scary shot when $6000 is on the line.
I hit first, pulled it a hair, it landed on the left side of the green with too much left spin and spun into the canal. The good news was it was a lateral hazard and I could drop on the fringe of the green and have about a 20 footer for par.
My opponent hit safely on the green about 30 feet away. He mouthed off the whole way up to the green and as we walked on. Choker, no wedge game, etc. He was a bit cautious and left his first putt about 3 or 4 feet short, but was still giving me the business.
I proceeded to knock in the 20 footer from the fringe for a par, looked at him and said, “Must have been luck, because according to you, I can’t putt.”
Making my putt flustered him as he didn’t even catch a piece of the hole.
The 18th is a par 5, dogleg left, with water all down the left side and short of the green. I laced a drive down the left side and had only a mid-iron left. My opponent also hit the fairway, but wussed out and layed up from like 210.
I hit a 6-iron about 3 feet and hit fatted his 3rd shot in the drink. He wrote me a check without saying a word and I never saw him again.
If I recall, I shot around 66 or 67 and my opponent, playing from a short set of tees, around 75 or 76.