With The Ben Cox 108 less than four weeks away, I admittedly began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew. The outpouring of support for the event and the Cox family has far surpassed my initial modest expectations, and along with that has brought the pressure of actually walking at least six full rounds of golf. This past weekend, I spent four days trying to prepare for the marathon. I'm happy to report that the legs feel fine, but the state of my game is in disrepair. If you've entered the 'guess the score' contest, you might want to revise your guess upwards. The pro shop might run out of Pro V1's before I run out of daylight on June 20th. Thankfully there is still time to right the ship.
I spoke to Ben and his mother the night before leaving for Denver. Ben is still in great spirits and the family is busy preparing for bringing him home. He is scheduled to be released from the hospital on June 14th. He is determined to meet this date as he desperately wants to be at Ballyneal on the 20th to cheer me and the half-marathoners on. He's also firmly committed to getting back on the golf course this year, and is using that engineering brain of his to figure out the best way to grip a golf club and make contact. We're hoping to get a specialized golf cart out at Ballyneal for Ben on the 20th so we can play a couple holes together.
The support from friends, fellow members, the staff and caddies at Ballyneal has been tremendous. I've gotten so many offers for guys to caddie for one of the rounds, I'll probably have an entourage of two or three helpers at any given time. Just call me Allen Iverson. Just in the past few days, we received three additional items to add to the raffle, including accommodations and golf at the Fairmont St Andrews (a convenient excuse to go play the Old Course while you're there), a threesome of golf at Skokie Country Club here in Chicago and a threesome of golf at a amazing golf course that I'm only contractually allowed to announce is a site of a future US Open (try to guess which one it is from the list below).
|2011||111th||Congressional Country Club, Blue Course||Bethesda||Maryland||June 16–19|
|2012||112th||The Olympic Club, Lake Course||San Francisco||California||June 14–17|
|2013||113th||Merion Golf Club, East Course||Ardmore||Pennsylvania||June 13–16|
|2014||114th||Pinehurst Resort, Course #2||Pinehurst||North Carolina||June 12–15|
|2015||115th||Chambers Bay||University Place||Washington||June 18–21|
|2016||116th||Oakmont Country Club||Oakmont||Pennsylvania||June 16–19|
|2017||117th||Erin Hills||Erin||Wisconsin||June 15–18|
|2019||119th||Pebble Beach Golf Links||Pebble Beach||California||June 13–16|
Here are some pics from a memorable weekend.
The par 3 5th hole. Obviously the world didn't end on Saturday evening, but if it had I was definitely going out in style!
The par 4 10th hole at sunrise.
A different angle of the home hole
The most holes I played over the weekend was 54 on Sunday, but that round was preceded by a walking tour of the proposed routing of the announced second course at Ballyneal, so I'm counting it as 72. Here's a teaser of the proposed 1st green.
A different view of the par 5, 16th hole
My friend Steve, a.k.a. "The Guy I Know Who Made it to Match Play in the Mid-Am" showed me the blueprint for getting around Ballyneal quickly: just get around the course in 67 strokes. Steve put on a shotmaking and short-game clinic, especially impressive since it was in a three-club wind.
Although Matt and I lost by a laughable margin in our 2-vs-1 match against Steve, our side-match produced this familiar scene: Matt double-bagging up "the Climb" from the 18th green, the club's traditional match-play stakes.
Although our match-play battles were generally decided by who can keep their ball out of pocket the longest, here is a rare example of "good-good" birdies on the par 3 5th. Mine is the ball on the right. A mere six inches from an obnoxious "EAAGGGGLLLE!!!! ON A PAR THREEEEE!!!" call to poor Jefe.
Ken vs. Bunker, Part One (14th Hole)
Payback is a beeatch. Matt wins 2 up. My first "Climb". Thanks to caddie Cierra for shrewdly stealing my camera well in advance just to take this picture.
Monday was probably the nicest weather day I've ever had out at Ballyneal - sunny, 70 degrees, a cool 5 mph breeze. However our day was cut short after 43 1/2 holes as this hail storm ripped through. This was not my first rodeo.
Despite an ominous forecast, Tuesday morning was even nicer than Monday. Here's the 2nd green.
Ken vs. Bunker, Part Two. (Video below)