It is ironic that a story entitled “The round that would never end,” is about a day where I was trying to qualify for the Cialis Western Open.
I used to try and qualify for the Western Open in Chicago every year. I had friends there and I liked the qualifying course. The bad news was, they got a lot of entrants, they put them all on one course and it usually took almost 6 hours to play.
One year, as it turned out, I would have begged for a six hour round. I was set to tee off on 10, which was way out in the middle of the golf course and they didn’t have enough carts to shuttle everyone out to 10, so I had to get an early start. When I got there, I found they were way behind on tee times and it would be about 45 minuted before I was to tee off. There wasn’t enough time to go back to the clubhouse and come back to the tee so I had to wait.
I don’t want to use the real names of the guys I played with for two reasons. First, this story will embarrass them and second, I usually forget the names of the guys I am playing with by the time I get to the first green. Let’s call one of them “High School Harry” because he quit high school to make the PGA Tour through Monday qualifiers.
An appropriate name for the second guy is “Air” because he could barely get the ball in the air, but every time he did, about 30 members of his family would go berserk like the crowd on the 16th at the Phoenix Open when Tiger made a hole in one.
I knew I was in for a long day when off the first tee, Harry swung so hard he grunted. I often get criticized for calling other players short hitters for obvious reasons, but this guy was short. In the next 18 holes he got up and down from 30-60 yards 6 times to shoot 78. The reason why he had so many shots from that distance is because his best drive and 3-wood would end up that distance short of the green…on Par 4’s. Not a typo, par 4’s. I hit 3 iron about 230-235. I hit it as a layup on one hole and that flew by Harry’s drive…that he killed.
Air topped it about 30 yards off the first tee. His second shot ended up 30 yards behind my drive and the crowd went wild. That crowd’s inability to understand there were other players on the course besides Air, caused me to back off several shots while I waited them to calm down after their boy just hit it on the green 50 feet from the hole from 40 yards away. I don’t even want to tell you how long it took them to quiet down after the four birdies he somehow made.
Fast forward to 9 fairway (my 18th hole after starting on 10). It is now 6 hours and 20 minutes into the round. 7 hours and 5 minutes if you include the 45 minutes I waited on 10 tee and 7 1/2 if you include the time it took me to walk out to the 10th tee.
I was 3 under par and I had seen the scoreboard at the turn and figured I need to get to 4 under to have a chance. I hit it about 15 feet from around 180. Air had topped his second shot in the water and Harry had hit some sort of double furniture(two woods) into the green side bunker. Air decides it’s going to take him 5 minutes to decide where to drop. Harry decides to take another 5 minutes to decide how to hit his bunker shot by stepping off the distance to the hole 3 times.
To digress a moment, it has long been an unwritten rule of pro etiquette that when you are out of the running to win, qualify or make the cut, you hurry up and get out of the way of the guy in your group who has a chance. As I have told you before, etiquette is a lost art in golf and these guys took forever.
With all of the goings on with my playing partners, a friend following me had talked to an official and found that 4 under would probably be a playoff. I hit my putt and it lipped out.
At least they had a shuttle to take us back to the clubhouse. Harry, who had a pre-shot routine that could be measured with a sun dial shot 78, as you already know. Air, who made 4 birdies, shot 82/83.
I am sitting at the scorers table lamenting that I just missed by one after slugging it out with Harry and Air for almost 8 hours and I get to end the day with Air saying this…
“I can’t believe this. Four under par is going to make it and I made four birdies. If I could have just gotten the bad holes under control, I would have made it.”
In case you are wondering, he was dead serious.