Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2009 Gentleman's Invitational

For the second year in a row, I welcomed my wife's uncle to St. Catharines to play in our annual Member/Guest Tournament.

It was the 44th Annual Invitational this year and it's notable for the fact that it is one of the few remaining three day events in the country. The club goes all out for the tournament, with pretty extravagant meals, lots of booze and a perfectly maintained golf course.

The format is a two-man best ball with 80% handicap on day one, 90% on day two and the full monty on day three. I was embarrassed to carry a five handicap into the event while my partner had a 15.

On Thursday, the first day of the event, Henry was on fire, making birdie right out of the gates on our first hole (the par five 10th) and he kept it up all day, shooting an 81 on his own ball while I shot 78 with three birdies. We'd shoot a scintillating 61 (-11) on the day on our handicapped best ball and LED THE COMPETITION by two shots.

If any of you have played in member/guest events before, you know that it's a no-win proposition to either win the event or be leading after one of the days...you'll be considered a sandbagger.

I could hear the chatter over by the scoreboard after our score was posted:

"61??? Bosela must have shot 68 on his own ball! Five handicap my ass!"

I got a lot of congratulations for the good round but I told everyone it was my partner who did all the heavy lifting. It was quite the surprising round, as Henry was a full 13 shots better than he was during our practice round a couple weeks earlier.

We chowed down on glorious steaks and lobster along with Dan Akroyd's wine for dinner on Thursday and got home before 10pm to rest up for the second round.

I figured Henry might get a bit tight on day two and I was right - he ended up shooting a 92, eleven shots worse than the day before but thankfully, I held up my end of the bargain.

I made four birdies on my way to firing a season-low 73 (+1) on my own ball on Friday, despite making a double bogey seven on the par five 16th hole. It was actually notable because it ended up being our best ball for that hole and counted toward our team score of 65 (-7), which put us in a tie for second place overall, three shots back of the leaders who went 63-60 for the first two days.

Friday's meal consisted of a pig roast, along with pizza and a few other appetizers. A bit more low-key than the first day to give players the option of going elsewhere for dinner.

We would be in the second last group of the day on Saturday for the final round. Unfortunately, neither Henry or I had our best games on the day and I would end up shooting a pathetic 81 while Henry got hot enough on the back nine to shoot an 85, with our team score of 68 (-4) falling well behind the leaders.

In fact, the winning team ended up shooting a 54 (-18) on the final day on the strength of the member's 73 (+1). Oh yeah, the member had a 19 handicap for the event. *cough* Pretty much off the charts as far as the likelihood of that happening for a 19 but I digress.

We ended up finishing in sixth place all alone with our 22 under par total, improving on our 12th place finish in 2008. Most importantly, we had a great time once again and I look forward to having Henry out as my guest for years to come.

The gala dinner on Saturday night was tremendous - the club had stations set up with four different types of international cuisine, with Canada, Britain, Italy and Asia all represented. Great, great food, good wine and great conversation.

Just a tremendous three days.

I actually got up early and played on Sunday morning with my regular partners, shooting a 78 (+6) from the tips. It was a fun morning, as I had a great match with Cal where I started quickly, going 2up after three holes. He'd make four birdies in a row from holes eight through eleven to take a three up lead on me but I'd chip away at that and make a three or four footer for par on the 18th hole to shoot a 37 (+1) on the back nine and saw off the match. Good stuff!

I'm definitely looking forward to next weekend, as I will be heading to the Woodstock area to play Otter Creek with the course architect Dick Kirkpatrick, writer Robert Thompson, Mike Weir's architect partner Ian Andrew and a few others on Saturday afternoon. I'll try to take some pictures of the course, which is supposed to be very solid.

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