IN THE FAIRWAY......with a happy hacker

by Gerry Ryberg

We open with a somber note, bidding a final farewell to fellow “golf-nut” Gus Cheeney. Gus was partnered with Adair Thompson in the Friday night league and according to Adair never once lost his happy, friendly, demeanor - not even if she made a shot that put him in the woods. Gus was a friend to all, on and off the course, we knew him as a square shooter. “Fairways and Greens,” Gus and a scorecard dotted with birdies and eagles! <BR><BR>We cannot even imagine what it would be like to be 18 and have a $375,000 check with your name on it in your hand. Paula Creamer claimed her second LPGA title - the Evian Masters in France - as well as finding herself second on the LPGA money list. At 18, mind you! Again, it makes us happy to read her words, when asked if Annika was her arch-rival: “I don’t really see it as a rivalry. We’re all just trying to find our games and play our best golf.” How wonderful to be blessed with such wisdom at such a tender age.<BR><BR>Tom Watson set a record last weekend, matching a course record not even ink-dried statistically at the Senior British Open in Aberdeen, Scotland, the fifth of his Brit Open titles. “Elementary, my dear Watson?” The PGA Tour article was most interesting with discussion of Ben Crane’s slow play at what used to be called the Greater Milwaukee Open, now U.S. Bank Championship. Slow play, plus rain delay caused a great many hurried shots from several players with several different reactions. <BR><BR>It happens in Ely, too. We should always try to move right along, of course. But in deference to those behind us, should trouble arise - having to hunt for a ball in the woods, for instance - most seasoned golfers know to wave the followers through. <BR><BR>Once in a while a burr gets under the visors of the tailing group when following a group of women. Sometimes, the impatients barely give the ladies a chance to wave them through before the grumbling starts. USGA states “Always play without delay and keep up with the group in front.” That is followed by statements: 1) Don’t play until the group in front is out of the way; 2) Invite faster groups to play through and 3) shout a warning if your ball may hit someone.” <BR><BR>The little USGA “Golf Rules in Brief” pamphlet does a wonderful job of explaining some very common things that could and often do happen during a round of golf. Every player, especially novices, should have it in her/his bag. We all wonder at times, what the ruling should be –do I get relief or is it a penalty? <BR><BR>Yesterday the Curtis Cup tournament started. It is a biennial competition between female amateur teams from the USA ,Great Britain, and Ireland. USA claims a 24-6-3 record, including victories in the last four matches. This year the team is playing at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore. Carol Semple Thompson is captaining the US team, having played on 12 USA Curtis Cup Teams. She readily admits it will be different. “Before I was just able to relax and think about my own game and now I will have to think a lot more people.” <BR><BR> If you are a USGA member , sign up for the “Rule of the Week” at www.prq0.com/usga/rotw/rotw.asp (we checked - the web address really is corrrect) or click on the link found at the right side of the membership page in the USGA Web site. It’s a great way to easily increase your knowledge of the Rules of Golf. Did you know there are 34 rules of golf? There have been 34 rules for 20 years, at least. <BR><BR>We chuckled at the bit called “the Tee” in the USGA July issue. They call the tee “the Rodney Dangerfield of golf equipment - it gets no respect.” It was barely mentioned in the rule book until last year. Now the new definition states: “A ‘tee’ is a device designed to raise the ball off the ground. It must not be longer than 4 inches and it must not be designed or manufactured in such a way that it could indicate the line of play or influence the movement of the ball.” USGA has received nearly 100 different designs for tees in the last five years - different shapes, sizes and materials - some with strings, arrows or bristles. Most of them conform to the definition of a tee but about one third of the submissions were ruled nonconforming. <BR><BR>Come to think of it, we have seen some very odd looking tees left on the tee box. Check the kind of a tee you use, especially in a tournament; you could be disqualified if it does not meet the definition in USGA’s rule book. <BR><BR> Most of us are ‘recreational’ golfers, right? We are not playing in a lot of tournaments, local or state. So it is very easy to get complacent about playing the game “ala Britsh” - according to the rules, that is. Just remember, the Scots or Brits who invented and developed the game made rules! Rules dictated their wagers - “no gimmies” were allowed until psychology of winning a match played a part. The handicap is only accurate if the score is accurate - which is to say, if you take unfair liberties with your lies, it should not be entered in the handicap system. We are not talking about “the giving of a putt” or “nudging the ball” - with the club - for a bit better lie. We know when we’ve gone too far with those liberties, don’t we? <BR><BR> Well, it happened as predicted! We paid out 35 cents last week to friend Margot Beland. She had seven less putts than we had! Ever shall it be, we fear. It was just plain good to have her back in our midst on a Tuesday night. We don’t want you to leave, Margot! <BR><BR>Being a retired PE teacher and a long time, long ago advocate and campaigner for EQUAL sports opportunities for both sexes, we are a bit concerned about Michelle Wie’s persistancy to qualify for men’s events. We can understand that she feels it is tougher to qualify for the men’s events, and applaud her ability to do so. But what happens when the guys decide turnabout is fair play, and start taking a female contenders’ spot in LPGA events? <BR><BR>One of these weeks we’ll have a rainy-spell. Time on the fairways might be ‘take as you can’, which will include in all probability, puddles for your ball to swim in. You may drop without penalty for relief from casual water - within one club length of the nearest point of relief not nearer the hole. If the ball is in the bunker, it must, of course, be dropped in the bunker - or take a penalty stroke and drop any distance behind the bunker if you feel your bunker shots need lots more practice. This just may be a smart move. It is legal. On the green, the ball must be placed at the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole. <BR><BR>Last Tuesday was a ‘free play’ night. Ladies made up their own pairings and signed for a starting tee box. The game of the night was to estimate the score you thought you’d card. Personally, we had a delightful foursome - all of us the lunch committee: Irene Johnson, Jill Konieczny, Annie Hedloff and this happy hacker. We all allowed as how great the cooling breeze felt; we all agreed how wonderful not to be swatting skeeters or black flies; BUT as we traveled the fairways, we all came down with a horrid fever - called “bad shot bungles.” <BR><BR>Finally, we could only laugh, which we did, from one side of the mouth while the other side complimented the one who hit a lovely shot once in a while. Irene is still deadly with her scrambling stroke saving chips and putts. Annie was about four putts too many - for her usual count, that is and was just a wee bit too tired to exact the distance of her usual game. Jill whacked the ball “a fur piece” - beautiful to watch - until fatigue took over and sent the ball errantly off course. We shall skip a report on the mis-hits of this hacker - our prerogative - except to say , we ignored our own advice - all of us - to stay in the fairway! <BR><BR> <BR><BR>