A Miraculous Shank, a New Playoff Format, and a Burger Breakthrough

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Getting a head count of the Sunday Morning Group is tough, because nobody stands still. Recently, it occurred to me that counting bags might be less confusing than counting heads. On Sunday, we tried it. And it worked! Twenty bags, twenty numbered poker chips in Chic’s hat, five teams of four, two best balls per hole.

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The other guys in my foursome were Ben, Hacker (real name), and Tim. On the thirteenth hole, a par 5, Tim shanked his third shot, from 120 yards away. His ball squirted over the wall and into the woods, out of bounds:

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We assumed that it was lost forever, but after what seemed like an impossibly long time it ricocheted not just back into play but onto the green, and ended up maybe five feet from the hole:

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Tim missed the putt, a side-hill slider, and he figured the miss had cost him a skin, but it turned out that net eagle wouldn’t have been enough, because Mike A., after hitting a lousy second shot, holed his third from 180 yards away, for a net albatross. And those weren’t the only birds we had to deal with:

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My teammates and I played so poorly on the first nine that we gave up all hope, and, probably because we had stopped caring, we began to play really well. (Despair is the poor man’s confidence.)  We ended up in a tie for first place, at -18. The playoff was lob wedges off a ketchup-bottle lid, from the little patio near the grill to the putting green, closest to the hole. As always, the stymie rule was in effect. Here’s Ben, holding his finish:

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And here’s Tim, hitting what turned out to be the winning shot (worth $25 to each of us). His ball ended up just inside the ball of Corey, our terrific pro:

Lunch was provided by Reese, who didn’t play because he’s coming down with what we diagnosed over beers as Lyme disease. He served burger dogs, which he learned about at the Olympic Club a month and a half ago, when Addison (who is Reese’s son) and Todd played in the 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Burger dogs are an Olympic specialty. They are burgers that are shaped like dogs:
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Making the patties takes work, Reese said, but fitting them onto the grill is easy:

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You have to cut slices of cheese to fit:

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You need just one kind of bun, plus mustard, ketchup, pickles, and onions:

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We may insist on them from now on.

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Report (Including Lunch) From the Olympic Club

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Our golf course has just nine holes, and from the tips it’s only a few inches longer than 5,500 yards, and if you want lunch you have to make it yourself. Nevertheless, the Sunday Morning Group managed to send two golfers—Addison and Todd—to the first United States Amateur Four-Ball Championship, which was held at the Olympic Club, in San Francisco, earlier this month.

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They qualified by shooting 65 at our state’s qualifier, at Mill River Country Club, back in September. As a matter of fact, we really sent three golfers to Olympic, because the other team that qualified in our state (by shooting 66) was Ben D.—an honorary SMG member by virtue of his having come on one of our annual golf trips to Atlantic City—and his brother, Daniel. Addison, Todd, Ben, and Daniel played their practice rounds together. In the photo below, which was taken on Olympic’s Lake Course, Ben is the one who didn’t listen when the photographer told them not to look at the camera; the others, from left to right, are Todd, Addison, and Daniel.

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Addison and Todd didn’t make it to match play, and Ben and Daniel lost their first match, but they all had a great time. Addison’s mother, Vi, took lots of pictures. Here’s Todd and his daughter Amanda, who caddied for him:

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Addison’s caddie was his Uncle Lance, who plays in our member-guest with Addison’s father, Reese, and is therefore an honorary SMG member, too:

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Here’s Addison’s report:

We were treated like pros by the USGA and the Olympic Club. They shuttled us back and forth between the hotel and the course, and we were able to use every imaginable amenity in the clubhouse: pool, steam room, hot tub, you name it. Everything was complementary except alcohol. We had our own lockers, and our shoes were always polished. The practice facilities were open from 7 to 7 each day, and the range balls were Pro V1xes. I should have just packed my sleeping bag and stayed in the locker room.

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The trip gave everyone multiple opportunities to sample an Olympic specialty: the burger dog. It’s a hamburger that’s shaped like a hot dog and served on a hot-dog bun, and it was invented in 1950 by a man named Bill Parrish. It’s served in a little bag, so you can eat it with one hand and not drip mustard on your shirt.

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Todd says he’s going to try to reproduce burger dogs the next time it’s his turn to bring lunch for the Sunday Morning Group. Maybe add bacon?

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The Sunday Morning Group Conquers All

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Yale University has an undistinguished student body and a miserable football team, but it does have a tremendous golf course , which the U.S.G.A.—mysteriously but somehow characteristically—lists under “T,” for “The Course at Yale.” I’ve played two rounds there this year: one with Richard (a college classmate, who for two years lived within two doors of my own dormitory room but whom I didn’t meet until our thirty-fifth reunion), and one with Shep (an honorary member of the Sunday Morning Group) and his dad, Dick. Before I teed off with Shep and Dick, I visited the men’s locker room and discovered that the shelf above the sinks—mysteriously but somehow characteristically —held just a single toiletry item, a hair preparation I’d never heard of:

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My two rounds at Yale, I’m pretty sure, “softened up” the course for Ray and Addison, who played there not long afterward, in our state golf association’s annual four-ball tournament, and won it by two shots, at seven under par. (They had no bogeys, and were one shot from tying the all-time tournament record.) They didn’t win a car, contrary to the clear suggestion in the photo below, but they did get their names engraved on a big trophy:

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A few days later, our club beat our Enemy Club in our annual two-day home-and-home grudge match, which has been held every year since 1948. Each club’s team has ten players—in our case, all from S.M.G. Todd and I were partners the first day, and Ray and I were partners the second day, and when it was over the two teams posed together for a photo:

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The very next day, Todd and Addison played in our state’s qualifier for the U.S.G.A.’s new national four-ball championship—and were the medalists, at five under par. (One stroke behind them were Ben D., an honorary member of the Sunday Morning Group, and his brother, Daniel—and just a week before that Ben had won another state event, the Tournament of Champions.) Because of their victory, Todd and Addison will be going to the Olympic Club, in San Francisco, in the spring, raising the possibility of a cross-country S.M.G. road trip.

One explanation for S.M.G.’s remarkable success in these things is that our locker room —despite being small, and equipped with just a single toilet, urinal, and shower—offers a rich selection of useful toiletries, plus a clock:

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Another is that hardly anybody went to Yale.

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