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Colorado Golf Trip, Day One (Jefe 5, Jim 2. Not that anybody's counting)

6/28/2008
Greetings from Colorado, site of a somewhat impromptu long golf-weekend with Jefe and I. This whole thing kinda just came together in the last two weeks and all the stars aligned for what promises to be a wonderful (blog-worthy) weekend. Since I'm in semi-golf retirement, Jefe and I have only had the chance to play one round together this year. Since we have nothing in common other than golf and would likely not even be friends if it weren't for the game, my semi-retirement has put some serious strain on our friendship. I think we may need counseling down the road. Call this weekend a much-needed bonding experience in a last-ditch effort to save our golfing marriage.

We left my house at 4:30 am for our 6:55 am Southwest flight out of Midway to Denver. Jefe had sent an e-mail the previous day wondering about how much cash he needed to bring on the trip. Eventually he concluded that $570 was the right number, because that's how much he brought. While on the plane, I counted up my bankroll. $480. D'oh. To which Jefe replied, 'Jeff 1, Jim 0'. The game is on. If only I hadn't put $100 on the counter for my wife (her weekly salary) before I left.

Last week, we played Orchard Valley back in Chicago, a Ken Kavanaugh design that is one of the best values in Chicagoland. Today, we played Murphy Creek outside of Denver, another Ken Kavanaugh design. Not only that, but Jefe noted the strange coincidence that Orchard Valley is in North Aurora, IL, and Murphy Creek is in Aurora, CO. Kenny K. seems to have cornered the market on Aurora muni courses. The good news for Ken is that there are at least 15 other states with towns of that name, enough to keep him busy for the next 20 years.



In about two weeks, Murphy Creek is hosting the USGA Amateur Pub Links championship (which was won last year by Colt Knost at Cantigny in my hometown of Wheaton...the only other course I've played this year.) The stiffs at the USGA were already setting up shop in preparation for the event...setting up trailers, laying down wires, growing rough to absurd lengths and killing greens so good shots won't hold them (oh, wait...that was Shinnecock. Strike that last one. All the others still apply.) It's no secret that the USGA enjoys big, mean courses. And Murphy Creek fits the bill nicely, tipping out at 7,590 yards (at 5,700 feet elevation). It's the longest course that we've ever played, with the longest par 4 we've ever played (hole 12, 506 yards), plus one of the longest par 3's we've ever played (#17, 248 yards). As far as we can tell, there's no truth to the rumor that the USGA selected Murphy Creek just by looking at the scorecard.

On the way to the airport, I mentioned to Jefe that Murphy Creek was hosting this prestigious USGA championship. To which he replied, "Really? I thought theire website said it was just a qualifier out there." Challenge extended. A couple of iPhone clicks later, it was confirmed that Murphy Creek was indeed the host of the actual event. Touche. Jefe 1, Jim 1. Not that anybody's counting.



It's worth noting that I hadn't flown Southwest Airlines in 8-9 years, and apparently the have this numbered boarding system where you stand it a certain spot in groups of five and they board you in groups of 15 or 30. Then it's a mad dash to find whatever seat you want. A very convenient and streamlined system (in related news, Southwest Airlines is the only one that ever makes any money.) Well, convenient and streamlined if you happen to be in one of the first groups. Jim: A41. Jeff: A42. Cha-Ching! Jim 2, Jeff 1. Not that anybody's counting.

The flight was uneventful and on-time (Jefe's not quite as scared at flying as he was last year in New Mexico, so there was no handholding necessary. Just optional this time.) The moment of truth came when our bags and, more importantly, our golf clubs came out of the baggage claim chute. Unfortunately, Jeff's came out before mine. It's all tied up. Jefe 2, Jim 2.

[By the way, I recently had the following conversation with my wife one night when we're talking about my level of involvement and intensity when it comes to my son's t-ball games.

Jim: Yeah, I never really thought about it, but I guess I'm pretty competitive.
Sue: Ya think?

I can't help it. That's why you're reading about who's golf bag came out first.

We had an 11:00 tee time at Murphy Creek, but got to the course a good 90 minutes early. Way too much time for us...we're used to rolling up to the lot 26 seconds before our scheduled time and swinging away on the first tee mid-sprint. There was little hope of getting out early, and it was the dreaded C.P.O. due to the upcoming tournament. A 5+ hour round was definitely in the cards. We had to do something, as we wanted desperately to leave for our next destination by 4:00 pm.

Now, Jack may have his 18 majors, and Tiger may ended up getting 25 or more if his knee holds up, but I assure you no one has ever jedi-mind tricked the starter more times in one lifetime that Jeff Tang and Jim Colton. We can work over a starter like a murder suspect in an interrogation room. At about 10:40, we noticed the a twosome was teeing off from the white tees. Jefe had already been down to the starter's podium and assessed the situation. It wasn't entirely clear whether they had a third guy or not. Jefe went back over there. Asked around. He showed us the guys were going to play with. Meanwhile, these two guys were still teeing off by themselves. Jeff tried to ask why we couldn't just play with the guy on the tees. The starter failed to see the logic in the request. It was quickly becoming apparent that Jefe had to pull out the big guns, so he pulled up his hoodie and wave his hand in front of the guys face.

Jefe: 'You will let us join that twosome'
Starter: 'I will let you join that twosome'

Jefe 3, Jim 2. What can I say? The guy is good.

As mentioned, Murphy Creek is a big, brawny course (with random old farm equipment scattered all over). The course fits the surroundings very well. Both Jeff and I started off well. The elevation really made a huge difference. On the 2nd hole, I hit a 6-iron 215 yards. On the par 5 5th hole, both Jeff and I had about 255 to reach the green. I thought I had to step on a 3-iron to get it to the green, so overswung big time and hit a horrible shot into some real horrible rough. Jefe decided to lay-up with a 4-iron and ended up hitting the ball onto the front of the green! Two routine putts later and the Jefe notched the first birdie of the day. Jefe 4, Jim 2.



That pretty much summed up my day. Good shots followed up by poor shots that killed me. Especially on the par 5's. The final nail in the coffin was the 13th, where I hit a solid 3-iron from 240 to just off the back of the green. Normal mid-summer Jim, vintage 2007, would chip it to at least tap-in range for a routine birdie. Jim Colton 2008 flubs the chip half way to the hole and leaves the birdie putt short. Stick a fork in me...I'm done. Jefe 5, Jim 2.

Fortunately, the day got infinitely better for both of us from there. But you'll have to read tomorrow to find out more...stay tuned.

1 comments:

  1. Sandi said...:

    Jim: Yeah, I never really thought about it, but I guess I'm pretty competitive.
    Sue: Ya think?

    Ya know, Jim, I figured this out within 6 months after I met you! (And maybe that's why Big Dogg will only play golf with you once a year....) :D

 
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