Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 Year in Review Part One - The Game

The Turkey Two Ball Championship trophy is presented to the 2016 winners
From left: Brad G, yours truly and Jon W

Another golf season has come and gone and 2016 is almost in the rearview mirror so that means it's time to reminisce about my year on the golf course in 2016 through my annual "Year in Review" series.

As usual, this will be a three-part series, starting today with "My Game" and I'll follow that up with posts about "The Courses" and finally, "Looking Ahead" to next year.

2016 was an interesting year, with a couple of exceptional travel experiences and more positive developments with my game.

The Game

I started 2016 with a 3.3 index and that actually increased to a season-high of 5.7 by mid-June, just before I departed for a golf trip to Colorado and Nebraska. Thankfully, seeing two of my most favourite courses on earth kick-started my game, as I put together a bunch of rounds in the low-to-mid 70s on that trip and ultimately, I was able to finish the season with a 2.4 index, the lowest I've been in around four or five years!

I posted only 59 scores this year, down six from my 2015 total and down TEN from 2014. That said, I also played six rounds at courses that don't have a course rating so ultimately, I played about the same amount of golf as usual. I also played 51 rounds at my home club of St. Catharines G&CC, easily the highest percentage of home rounds I've played since I was a kid, as I didn't travel as much as usual this past year.

For the ninth year in a row, I participated in the St. Catharines G&CC Gentlemen's Invitational, our three-day member guest event in mid-June, with my wife's uncle Henry. We played pretty well this year but still finished around 15th or so by my recollection. The club always puts on a great event for the members and their guests and I look forward to playing for the 10th straight year in 2017.

As indicated, in late June, I flew down to Denver and played some golf in Colorado and Nebraska. While there, I took part in my second 5th Major, a big two-man best ball event put on annually by my friend Eric S at his home away from home, Dismal River Club in Mullen, Nebraska. I first played in this event back in 2012 and finished in 2nd place overall that year, teaming up with Tyler K from Winnipeg, Manitoba and making it all the way to the final hole of the shootout for the big trophy. This year, we both played exceptionally well again but ran into two VERY hot teams, ultimately finishing in 3rd out of the four teams in the low handicap flight and not making the shootout.

My second 5th Major was one of my 2016 highlights

The 5th Major continues to be one of the most well-run tournaments I've ever played in and I hope to play in it again sometime soon, perhaps as early as 2017! The hospitality shown by our host Eric, club owner Chris J and all of the staff at Dismal River Club is off the charts.

The club match play events have always been a big deal to me but both the Langley Cup and Scratch Cup continue to elude me.

I completely flopped in the Langley Cup competition, a 0-7 handicap event with full strokes from the back tees, losing to my good friend Harris in the first round, one where we both played horribly but he persevered on the first playoff hole.

The club's Scratch Match Play event went MUCH better. Like the Langley Cup, my first round match was a shocker for both me and my opponent Coleman but I was somehow able to squeak past him to get into round two, where I was going up against the defending Club Champion in Rob E. Now, I could play my best game and he'd still destroy me 9 out of 10 times but he had to concede the match to me due to sickness, putting me through to the quarterfinals! There, I'd play a great match against the excellent Colin P, winning 4&3 while making pretty much everything on the greens to move through to the semifinals. There, I'd face another young gun in Mitch M, who almost tied the course record in a game just weeks before, shooting a scintillating nine under par 63. YIKES!!! I'd lose the first four holes in a row but then incredibly, we'd tie every other hole in our match, meaning a 4&3 loss for yours truly. Still, I went up against three plus handicaps in the competition and to make it to the semifinals is a big accomplishment in my eyes.

The Club Championship at St. Catharines has always been a highlight on my golf calendar but the luster of the event is starting to wear, as our club inexplicably has changed all of the "non-Open" flight events to NET COMPETITIONS! Two years ago, I was proud to win the 2014 A Flight Championship, which was flighted but played at scratch among the participants in that flight. Now that they are flighting AND still netting down each of the competitions, I decided to bite the bullet and compete in the actual club championship, which takes place from the back tees and has about 15 one handicaps or better taking part.

I'm not one of them.

Still, I just can't fathom playing in a net Club Championship event so open flight it is! I played okay, shooting rounds of 79 and then 82 after a four plus hour rain delay to miss the cut by a million. Hell, our eventual club champion was TWELVE UNDER PAR THROUGH TWO ROUNDS!!!

While I wasn't able to win any hardware this year, I'm proud to say that my 72 year old mother won her first ever club championship at St. Catharines, taking home the 9-Hole Ladies Championship while also winning the 9-Hole Ladies Match Play event as well.

My mom won the double!!

For the fourth consecutive year, I ran a season-long competition on Sundays at St. Catharines G&CC called the "Premier League". It's proven to be very successful and gives everyone something to play for during our normal weekend rounds. We had 44 players take part in 2016, up from 39 players last year and up 17 (!!) from 2014. TaylorMade returned for a second consecutive year as our league sponsor as well.

After a third place finish in 2015 playing in the Blue Tee division, I decided to move up to the Black Tee division in 2016 against all those young studs just to ensure all the numbers were balanced. Similar to the club championships, I was completely out of my league, finishing 14th out of the 16 competitors in that flight and that actually FLATTERS ME, as the two guys who finished below me played only about half the designated rounds or even less. Truthfully, I would have finished dead last if those guys were able to play a bit more.

We have a lot of great players at our club and I'll tuck my tail between my legs and move back to the Blue Division in 2017.

In late September, I had one of those all-too-rare days on the golf course where everything goes perfectly and I'd sink a ten footer for par on my final hole to shoot a one-under par 71, which incredibly is my 15th lifetime round under par.

Hey! A blind squirrel found a nut!

It's always a huge thrill that never gets old.

Finally, the last major event on my schedule is the Turkey Two Ball Invitational that I run and we once again had a full field of 40 players for the 6th Annual running of the mid-October, season-ending event. I'd actually get my name pulled out of the hat earlier than expected and draft Jamie P. as a partner during the pre-event draft party. We both played quite well, with me making two birdies and Jamie contributing an eagle but our one under par best ball score of 71 was four strokes back of three teams, requiring a FIVE HOLE PLAYOFF before a winner was determined.



It's a wonderful event, one I haven't won yet and I'll keep pressing on with hopes of one day lifting that great trophy!

COMING SOON:

2016 Year in Review Part Two - The Courses
2016 Year in Review Part Three - Looking Ahead