The Friday-afternoon version of my regular Sunday Morning Group met the other day. Seven players showed up: three retirees, one semi-retiree, two self-employees, and one college student home for the weekend. We picked teams by drawing balls from my hat, three vs. four. As always, the threesome started two under par (an adjustment we borrowed from Augusta National) and no one got two strokes on any hole. The wager was twelve dollars a man: five dollars for best-ball, five dollars for skins, and two dollars for the Money Hole (which, because there were seven of us, was the seventh). Because it was Friday, not Sunday, we allowed strokes on par-threes.
The course had been open for more than a week and the weather was flawless, but our cars were the only ones in the parking lot so we played as a sevensome. Later, we picked up an eighth player: a self-employee, but one who runs a real company and has young children and so sometimes runs late. Even as an eightsome, we played faster than most foursomes, perhaps partly because Ray, over the winter, had eliminated a few redundant elements from his pre-shot routine. He’s just about the last member of the group who still believes in practice swings, although he now limits himself to one, plus waggles.
My team went a stroke ahead on the seventeenth, with a net birdie by Jim. He is recently divorced and hadn’t played in two years, except for a single round during an otherwise golf-free trip to Ireland a couple of weeks ago. On the eighteenth, Ray, on the enemy team, made a natural eagle, retaking the lead—but Jim answered him with a second consecutive net birdie, and we finished in a tie. Rick, as always, suggested giving everyone their money back, but Hacker (real name) reminded him that, in our group, “money doesn’t flow backward,” and told him to forget it. We held a playoff on the practice green—putting to the second hole from the top of one of the teak side tables on the patio, closest to the pin—and my team won.