Sunday, June 27, 2010

Searching for Joey Sindelar

A friend and I went to the Dick's Sporting Goods Open in Endicott yesterday, which is part of the PGA "Champions" tour.  (I was too tired to finish this post last night.)

I've been at two practice rounds at a couple of other golf tournaments but this was my first honest to goodness actual golf tournament ever.  I am a golf vi...well, I can't say that if I am going to remain a family blog.  So instead:  I have never played regular golf.  That is because any game that involves a ball and me is a total disaster for both of us, and anyone else nearby.  Trust me on this.

Now, if all you have ever done is watched golf on TV....yes, that is as interesting as watching paint dry.  But golf in person is not like that at all.

You are out, on manicured greens with bits of lovely landscaping here and there, water fountains bubbling.  If you sit at a hole, people are talking in whispers even if the golfers haven't arrived to complete their rounds yet.  You sit and the birds sing, the winds blow.  It is peaceful.   You hear nature around you.  You walk around.  You watch the golfers study their shots.  Someone holds up signs asking for Quiet and it becomes even more still.  Then some cheers, and quiet again.  Certainly not like any other sporting event you've ever been to.  If you love peace and quiet, and I do, golf is the place to be.

Oh yes, one other thing.

You get very, very, lost.

This is where the Joey Sindelar part comes in.

But first, I am going to talk about the start of the day's play.  After my companion filled me in on the basics of golf scoring (par, eagles, birdies, bogeys, etc.) we watched Hale Irwin tee off to start the day's play.  We were just a few feet away.  His was one of the few names I had heard of.

It was not his day.  His shot hit a tree branch.  And, I think it was probably downhill for him after that, as he isn't in the running at this point.

Nevertheless, we wanted to follow him and his greatness around.  Now, when someone you want to follow plays, you wait until he hits the ball, and then follow the crowd to wherever it landed.    (If I'm not using proper terminology here, please forgive me.)  In this tournament, golfers were playing in groups of three, so all three had to hit, and then eventually they caught up with you.  You hoped.

The problem was, holes are not in order.  You don't go to hole one, then hole two, then hole three in a straight line.  Oh no, that would be too easy. 

If you look at a map of En-Joie Golf Course, where this tournament takes place, it resembles somewhat a map of the Finger Lakes.  If I remember correctly, hole 2 was followed by hole 9.  Which was followed by hole 8.  Which was followed by us getting totally lost, and losing Hale Irwin.  Instead, we followed a set of golfers including one David Frost.

What we then decided to do was try to find the winner of last year's Open, one Joey Sindelar. and follow him. However, between the maze of holes, the fact that some of the paths were roped off and the fact that some people were starting at the first hole and others at the 10th (I suppose this is normal but what do I know) this was like trying to find Dr. Livingstone in the wilds of Africa.  Okay, not quite.

We were trying to estimate where Joey Sindelar would be given that he teed off from the 10th hole, and at the time he was supposed to start.  This became quite the intellectual exercise.  After some false starts and climbing hills that seemed to be getting steeper and steeper, we decided to plop down by a hole, see who was coming along, and hope Joey would be there soon.

From the program, we saw he would be in the 4th group to come to that hole, based on who was there at the time.  So we made our stand...well, our sit, and got to see him.  And also Craig Stadler, The Walrus. Yes, he looks like one.

We did miss seeing Ben Crenshaw, who was one of the last to tee off.  By then, we were so lost we probably would have ended up in Asheville, NC if we had tried to walk any more.

So we finally left.  But since we never found the 14th hole, we missed out on some spiedies.  Oh well.

Would I go back?  Yes.  But I'd better learn more about the golfers first, and bring a good map and compass.

Finally: many thanks for the law firm of Hinman, Howard & Kattell in Binghamton for buying the gate yesterday.  All we had to pay was $5.00 for parking.  Cheap!

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