Monday, September 25, 2006

St. Catharines Blows it Again

I really thought this was going to be our year at St. Catharines G&CC in the annual Niagara Cup competition.

We stormed through the preliminary round in spectacular fashion, culminating in the singles event at home where every team member won their match. Just dominating.

The finals were held at Beechwood G&CC and the course has seen better days. The fairways were filled with standing water, necessitating lift, clean and place in the short grass and the greens were so butchered that they resembled mine fields. Just awful.

We were competing against the following five clubs, who all won their respective preliminary's like us: Niagara Falls Country Club (Lewiston, NY, USA), Sparrow Lakes GC (Pelham, ON), Rolling Meadows GC (Niagara Falls, ON), Hunters Pointe GC (Welland, ON) and Lookout Point G&CC (Fonthill, ON).

I was the last player to tee off from St. Catharines and drew Frank from Lookout as my opponent. Frank is a very fine player who plays on the Niagara Men's Tour as well.

I'll give you the Toast encapsulated version of the match:

Hole 1 (Par 4): Frank gets up and down for par; I get up and down for par All Square
Hole 2 (Par 3): Frank misses the green and makes bogey; I hit six-iron to five feet, miss but make par Matt 1up
Hole 3 (Par 5): Frank hits his second and fourth shots OB and concedes my birdie putt Matt 2up
Hole 4 (Par 4): Frank makes a great up and down for par; I make a two-putt par Matt 2up
Hole 5 (Par 4): Frank and I both make two-putt pars Matt 2up
Hole 6 (Par 4): Frank and I again make routine two-putt pars Matt 2up
Hole 7 (Par 4): Frank slices his drive OB and makes double; I three-putt for my first bogey on the day Matt 3up
Hole 8 (Par 5): I get into trouble off the tee and hit my third into the water; I concede Frank's par when I'm putting for bogey Matt 2up
Hole 9 (Par 3): Frank hits short left and makes a 15 footer for par; I hit a perfect 2-iron rescue to 15 feet and two putt for par Matt 2up

I got the point for the front nine and had the two-up lead overall but I felt momentum was slipping. My tee shot on ten didn't help matters nor did the weather, which took a real turn for the worse. Rain was coming down sideways and the temperature had dropped to about 12 degrees.

Hole 10 (Par 4): Frank makes a routine two-putt par; I hit a perfect drive that catches a hydro wire that crosses the fairway and the ball drops straight down - I have to reload (local rule) and duckhook it left into the rough. I compose myself, hit it on and two-putt for par Matt 2up Overall; All Square Back Nine
Hole 11 (Par 3): Frank and I both hit way left; he taps in for bogey while I end up making a seven footer for bogey Matt 2up Overall; All Square Back Nine
Hole 12 (Par 5): Frank makes a two-putt par; I three-putt for bogey Matt 1up Overall; Frank 1up Back Nine
Hole 13 (Par 3): Frank misses the green long and can't get up and down; I two-putt for par Matt 2up Overall; All Square Back Nine
Hole 14 (Par 5): Frank makes a two-putt par; I almost hole out for eagle, settling for a easy birdie Matt 3up Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
Hole 15 (Par 5): Frank goes long on his third and makes bogey; I get into trouble on my second shot, go long on the third and can't get up and down either Matt 3up Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
Hole 16 (Par 4): Frank goes right off the tee, chips out and makes a two putt bogey; I come up short on my approach and can't get up and down either Matt Wins 3&2 Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
Hole 17 (Par 3): Frank and I both make two-putt pars Matt 1up Back Nine
Hole 18 (Par 4): Frank hits into the water on his second and concedes my par putt Matt Wins 2up on Back Nine

So I got all three points available in my match but unfortunately the rest of the team wasn't as fortunate on this day. We got shutout in two matches and a 1/2 point in another and ended the day with only 10.5 points, which put us in fifth out of the six teams in the finals. Niagara Falls CC won for the second year in a row, taking a one-hole playoff with Rolling Meadows.

I had an excellent Niagara Cup year, going a perfect 4-0-0 in my matches and taking 10.5 out of a possible 12 points in the process. But it's meaningless in defeat. One of these years we're going to win this thing!!!

Oh yeah. Marriage preparation classes on Friday and Saturday went pretty well. It was certainly worth the $50.00 investment.

And to those comics Harry and Toast, who've been riding me on their blogs (Golf + Poker and Sports, Entertainment & Smack respectively). Keep teasing me all you want about marriage and the whole "hope Jacky lets you out next weekend thing". Remember this...

I played just as many times this weekend as you Toast and one more time than Harry's zero. And it maybe doesn't say anything but I guarantee that my married ass still got 'permission' to play more rounds of golf this year (55) then you poker loving, Boss-smoking, hip-hop clothes wearing, Mazel Tov spouting, Rosh Hashanah celebrating delinquents!

Take that! :) Whoo!

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Week That Was

Life is a blur right now...there's no time for anything except wedding stuff and work it seems. But there has been a little bit of 'fun time'.

As Harry pointed out on his blog, Saturday last week likely didn't qualify as fun but it was a relatively successful day.

We played in the final event on the Niagara Men's Tour and it took place at the ridiculously difficult Thundering Waters Golf Club. I'm not going to bore you with the ALL the details but I started off six over through the first seven holes - six bogeys and one lonely par. I wasn't playing poorly but just couldn't make a six footer for the life of me on the shaggy greens.

I almost holed a seven iron from the tee on the par three eighth and tapped in the easy 15 incher for birdie to get back to +5. A three-putt on nine for bogey gave me an underwhelming 42 on the front, pretty much what I expected before the day began.

However, I was able to finally start making pars on the back nine and after hitting my second shot into the water greenside on the par five 18th, was able to get up and in for par and an incoming 39 for an 81 overall.

I didn't make ONE other on the day, with bogey being my worst score. I did make TEN of them but I was able to make it around this tricky course without getting into any real trouble - quite the accomplishment for me!

I knew the scores would be high but I never thought that my 81 would get me close to the top ten. But what do I know?! I ended up finishing a very surprising 8th on the day (73 was the low score) and moved up 9 spots in the overall standings to finish the year off in 24th place. Respectable but still disappointing. I won a nice pair of golf shoes for the finish but the real prize was given a few days later. One of the member's of the tour board called me to tell me that I was going to be exempt into the 2007 tour after all! They ended up going back to their original plan of taking the top 30 players as opposed to the top 20 so I was comfortably in!

I don't know if I would have tried to qualify next year if I was on the outside looking in...$100+ dollars to get the CHANCE to make the tour? Ah, who am I kidding? I like the competition too much and would have tried for sure.

I flew to Quebec City early Sunday morning for a four-day business conference. It was my first time and let me tell you: it's a GORGEOUS city. Beautiful stone-faced architecture, great history, fantastic restaurants and very nice people. I'm not fluent in French so I thought that might be a problem but I found everyone there to be very accomodating.

We hit the Plains of Abraham, the Citadel, Chateau Frontenac and all that good stuff in old Quebec. We even got to do some partying while there, hitting a nightclub on Monday night and getting taken out to a fancy dinner and later a pub on Tuesday night. The business aspect of the trip was good as well.

If you ever get the chance, don't pass it up. Quebec is lovely.

I got back yesterday morning and after work had to go out looking for wedding bands for myself with Jacky.

This weekend should be interesting as well, as we have to take part in 'wedding preparation' classes at the local Catholic church. I'm NOT particularly looking forward to this but it's a necessary evil at this point.

On Sunday, I have the last golf tournament on the 2006 schedule: the finals of the Niagara Cup competition. It will be nice for St. Catharines to take home the title after being bridesmaids for every year that I've taken part in the event but there are a lot of really good clubs participating. I have always preferred match play over medal so hopefully I bring enough game to help our club.

So tired...all I want to do is take care of my lawn! Maybe I'll find fourty minutes to finally cut it on Sunday morning!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Niagara Men's Tour 2006 Finale: Thundering Waters GC

Tomorrow afternoon marks the last stroke play tournament of the year for yours truly, the final event on the Niagara Men's Tour which takes place at Thundering Waters.

It will take a finish similar to last year's (when I finished second at Beechwood) just to maintain 'exempt' status on the tour for 2007, as the tour's board has decided to allow only the top 20 players that luxury.

It's a bit of a piss-off to me only because they've gone back on what they said earlier in the year, when they said the top 30 would be exempt.

Maybe it's sour grapes on my part since I'm currently in 32nd place or something after finishing 11th last year. Regardless, I haven't played great this year anyway and it's almost impossible for me to get into that top 20 barring an elusive top-three finish.

It's compounded by the fact that we're at Thundering Waters tomorrow, a course that quite simply doesn't fit my eye. Maybe the third time will be a charm for me but with the state of my game as it is now, I have doubts that I can shoot a score. I haven't played much at all lately and I really have no idea what to expect.

I'm just exhausted from all the wedding and stag planning and work has been really taxing lately as well. I head to beautiful Quebec City on Sunday morning for a four day business trip so I have that on my mind as well.

I also suffered a pretty bad fall playing hockey the other day and even daily trips to my new hot tub haven't been able to cure what aches...

For the first time all year, I have no plan for the round. Nothing.

I'm going to try to hit some balls before the round (haha...right) and see how the swing holds up.

At least I'm playing with Brian, one of the Sunday regulars at our club in the event so we should have a good time. If I shoot a 45 on the front or something similar, I'll be cracking a beer with him without doubt!

In other news, NHL training camps opened today! Now THAT is exciting news!

The Buffalo Sabres look really strong this year and are in position to perhaps improve upon their fantastic performance in 2005/06. They will be unveiling their new uniforms for the coming season tomorrow morning but the jersey's were leaked to the public accidently yesterday. Here's a look:


I still hate 'the slug' logo (as its detractors are calling it) but to be honest, I still kind of dig the look. The colours are great and it's just nice to be going back to the blue and gold.

As you all know, I'm a huge Sabres fan and I'm thinking of possibly starting a new blog that just talks about the team. Like I have enough time for that! But I dunno...I always wanted to be a sportswriter and blogs give you the ability to write about whatever fits your fancy PLUS it's pretty easy to find an audience.

Food for thought...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Another Crazy Week

The Golf Association of Ontario resurrected the George S. Lyon Tournament, a tournament that takes four top amateurs from each golf club and has them play at four different courses. It's a stroke play event and the team's score is all of those four rounds added together.

Cam, our head assistant at St. Catharines, asked if I would be interested in replacing one of the guys who had to drop out of the event. When told I'd be playing at Cedar Brae CC in Scarborough, one of my favourite courses in Ontario, I took him up on the offer.

Unfortunately, I almost got our team disqualified when I miscalculated the amount of time it would take to get to the course Thursday morning. I showed up with 6 minutes to spare, as my group was just getting their scorecards from the starter on the first tee.

Whew.

Without so much as a practice shot, I stroked probably my best ball of the day down the first fairway and ended up making a solid par on the very difficult 452 yard par four.

The solid strokes wouldn't last.

I three-putted the next THREE holes, going four over in the process. I made the turn at +6 but after a birdie on #10 and solid pars on 11, 12 and 13, I thought I could eke out a good score.

Umm...no sir.

I finished double bogey, bogey, triple bogey, par, double bogey to shoot an unsightly 85.

I just haven't had a game all year.

We finished around 34th out of 55 teams after Bernie's 78, Andy's 80 and Charlie's 83. There were a number of big names at the event, like Rob Cowan, Warren Sye (who ended up dropping out at the last minute), Kelly Roberts and even noted Canadian rock star Tom Cochrane.

Nice guy that Tom!

Friday was absolutely nuts for me. It was my stag night and I needed the entire day on Friday for preparations. I had lots of trouble earlier in the week getting my liquor license for the event and had just as much difficulty getting the keys to my hall in order to get the beer and pop in the fridge.

The event itself was fun once I calmed down from all the stress of throwing a big party. I was slightly disappointed in the turnout (maybe 100 people total), especially the fact that besides her uncle, there wasn't ONE PERSON representing the bride's side of the family or her friends. Not one person. They're all coming to the wedding but they couldn't fork over ten bucks to support us for the stag?!

A bit of a pisser but I'm over it.

I wish I had kickstarted the craps game earlier though. It was a big hit at the end of the night and money was flying fast and furious. I would have made out like a bandit in the game on tips if I wasn't so stubborn to play myself (and lose about a hundred on it).

Oh well...I had great fun anyway.

I barely made a profit on the night though, which really sucks. The hall and food were likely too expensive for the amount of people I had attend. I must say thanks though to anyone who donated prizes for the event - we had a ton of stuff that was given out to the guests and I think everyone went home happy.

Saturday was spent returning the games and doing some 'window shopping' with the fiance. I promised a "Jacky day" since I'd be spending all of Sunday doing manly things like golfing, cutting grass and watching NFL football.

Thankfully, the window shopping was at Leon's, Best Buy, Future Shop and Costco. We're looking at getting an HDTV and I'm wondering if any of my visitors has an opinion on what to get...

I'm presently leaning towards getting an LCD television. I have heard some negative things about plasma. As far as brand, I'm looking at Sony or Samsung and I'm looking at getting something around 46".

Any suggestions from the peanut gallery??

I golfed on Sunday and shot another of my patented 77's. Played like junk most of the day but was awesome around the greens on the front nine and was able to scramble around enough to post a number.

It just wasn't meant to be this year. I won't be playing much the rest of the year - I might have 8 rounds left in me. I play at Thundering Waters in the finale of the Niagara Men's Tour on Saturday and my prospects for playing well are pretty bleak. It's just not my type of golf course and I'll be fortunate to break 80.

Lastly, on the fantasy football front, I lost all three of my matchups this weekend and only went 7-9 against the spread in the work pool. I play Harry next week in the 'Trash Talking' league so I'll have to be ready. I've already fired the first missle...we'll see if he responds!