A warm welcome to guest blogger, John McNeill. My interest is purely personal, as I hitched my wagon to this funny guy in 1992. Lurk away! – Kris Wile
Family and Friends,
Here is my report on my experience playing in the US Senior Amateur in Eugene, Oregon in late August of this year. For background you can check out this nice article in the Sunday August 26 Worcester Telegram and Gazette
Scroll about halfway down to where the good part starts.
Following are some details and observations.
Day 1: Getting There
Beginning of a long day: Got up at 3:45am in Stow, left for Logan a little after 4am, got to terminal at 5am, checked my new green Club Glove golf bag, whisked through the TSA Pre line, and walked right onto my 6:05am flight as they had started boarding early. Plan was to take United to SFO, then a hop to Eugene (United the only airline with flights connecting to Eugene) arriving at 1pm, then registering with the USGA at Eugene Country Club by 2pm, then meeting my caddie Tanner Hermanson and playing 9 holes, then getting cleaned up for the 7pm Player’s Dinner.
Things started going off the rails almost immediately as, during the playing of the safety video, there was a glitch in the airplane power and the video stopped. I could see outside my window the guy with the flashlights who was standing by the edge of the wing to guide the plane out during pushback, and he stopped and put the flashlights in his pocket and walked to the front of the plane. They moved the jetway back to the plane and two guys in orange “TECH OPS” vests walked on and we all started getting nervous. Visions of a plane being taken out of service and cancelled flights and missed connections and late arrivals danced in my head. But then the pilot announced that it was just an indicator light that wasn’t indicating, they got it fixed, and off we went only a few minutes late.
Things started going off the rails almost immediately.
When I arrived in SFO I found that my flight to Eugene was delayed due to smoke from wildfires in central Oregon. California gets all the headlines but Oregon is having fires too. They hadn’t had rain for at least a couple of months!
Although there was a delay, I looked on the bright side, thinking “at least my bag will have plenty of time to make the connection.” Looking around the gate are there were a lot of other senior golfers – it looked like half people on the flight were playing in the tournament! I wondered if the plane would be able to get off the ground with all those golf bags on board.
Our plane finally arrived, we boarded, and as we taxied out to take off, the pilot noted “we have plenty of gas so we can divert to Portland if necessary.” Huh??? Someone spoke up, “What’s wrong with Eugene?!?” Luckily the wildfire smoke was not blowing over the Eugene airport, we did not need to be diverted, and we landed without trouble in Eugene.
I went to the oversize bags area, watched them unload golf bag after golf bag, and … my bag was not among them!
I went to the United counter and there was a guy in front of me in line same situation. He’d had a window seat and at SFO was watching bags get loaded and saw his bag left on tarmac when the plane was full. He looked at me and (since I was dressed for what I thought was going to be a 9-hole round) could see I was in the tournament and said “You too?!? Was it a green bag?” I nodded sadly yes – at least I knew that bag was somewhere – and filled out the paperwork to have the bag delivered later that night.
Well I guess I won’t play 9 holes this afternoon! I texted the USGA officials that I would be even later than I thought to register, went and got my rental car, and drove to the club.
Day 1: New Experiences
When I got to the club, I started going through a number of new experiences. I had at least two different mindsets going into this whole thing:
1) For best performance, my approach was “It’s still the same game, this is just another tournament, I can do this” and try to minimize the difference from anything I’d done before.
[Sidebar: I had competed in one USGA event before, the 1995 US Publinx, but this wasn’t really anywhere near as special. For one thing it was at the North Course at Stow Acres, only 1 mile from my house, so there wasn’t any travel involved and it was a very familiar course. And, since Stow Acres is a 36 hole public facility and the South Course was still open, while we were warming up at the range there were still everyday golfers hitting all sorts of shots off of mats! At least they let us hit off grass]
2) For maximizing life experience, and realizing I might never get into another one of these, I could embrace and maximize what was entirely different and just soak up whatever was new.
As it turned out, there were so many new experiences, approach (1) never stood a chance. As soon as I stepped through the front door of the clubhouse for player registration, the “We’re Not In Kansas Anymore” experiences started. I will call these “WNIKA” moments and they unfolded at various times over the duration of the tournament. I realized these were taking me out of my (already small) comfort zone, but I decided to just go for it and fully experience the different-ness of it all, and make a learning experience out of the whole thing.
WNIKA moment #1: Player registration
You need to register when you show up; if you don’t show up then an alternate will take your place. Most people showed up by Wednesday to play the Thursday practice round, but since I had to work Wednesday I’d already notified the USGA that I wouldn’t be there until at least 2pm on Thursday. Then with the flight delays I texted them to say I’d be even later, so they wouldn’t give my spot to an alternate.
I walked up to the registration tables, staffed by several volunteers, and right there was the winner’s trophy:
Registration was a multistep process involving:
a) Headshot picture taken
b) Get package of player information including detailed yardage book for me and caddie
c) Get BADGE and gifts: clubhead cover, bag tag, towel, ballmarker
d) Sign the list of competitors that is framed and presented to the host club. Of the 156 spaces, there were only 8 blank ones left, indicating how late my arrival was!
e) Get a stern lecture on the pace of play guidelines
f) Meet the equipment guy who can verify that my clubs are conforming. I told him I’d have to talk to him tomorrow because my clubs weren’t here yet.
g) Then get a tour of the clubhouse, including
WNIKA moment #2
the players only lounge with free food, beer, and wine (“Help Yourself to Wine in Fridge”)
WNIKA moment #3
my locker with more USGA swag inside. It occurred to me that, since I am a member of a non-real-estate club (Boston Amateur Golf Society) I’ve never had a locker other than the trunk of my car. I didn’t use the club storage since I believe that God intended golf clubs to be stored in the trunk of a car, but I did embrace the locker room thing and had stuff in there the whole time I had access to the locker room.
Then met my caddie Tanner. We proceeded to walk the course and as soon as my feet hit the turf the stress and fatigue and headache from the cross-continental flight melted away, and the magical restorative powers of being on a golf course took over.
Standing on 13th tee I had a feeling of déjà vu and remembered that the Marzanos live on the course. I called Lou and told him to stroll out into his backyard and I would see him and Kathy in a minute. Took a selfie with the Marzanos and caddie Tanner.
After walking, went back to Marzanos and cleaned up. Had first dinner with them, and then off to …
WNIKA moment #4: Players’ reception and dinner
The players’ reception and dinner was at Autzen Stadium, home of U Oregon football. Reception in the rich donor / alumni space behind the luxury boxes, and it was luxurious indeed. An unbelievable variety of amazingly delicious local food and beverages, including craft beers and a selection of wines, artisanal cheeses, grilled salmon, oysters, crab legs, pulled pork and cheeseburger and chicken BBQ sliders, ice cream and strawberry shortcake for dessert. I talked with another player from Texas who had been in several Senior Amateurs before, and he said those player dinners had been nowhere near as good. If there was only one Senior Am to get into, this was the right one!
There was a short speaking program which included
• Words of welcome and thanks from the USGA
• A brief speech from last year’s winner who told what it was like when you win this thing. “Unless you’ve won something before, it will be the best year of your golfing life” He played in the US Amateur (and said to get to experience being outdriven by 80 yards) and the US Senior Open (the USGA grouped him with the previous Senior US and British Open winners, so he played with Kenny Perry and Bernhard Langer)
• Amusingly, reminders from a USGA official on the conditions of the competition and some Local Rules! I guess with free food and an open bar it was the best time to have the entire field together …
Then home and wait for club delivery (about 10pm) and finally to sleep.
Day 2: Practice Round
I had a 12:15 tee time for my practice round. I’d signed up online several days ago, and heard from fellow Massachusetts qualifier Steve Camara that he had signed up to play in my group. Normally for a tournament round I like to arrive about an hour and 10 minutes ahead of my tee time for warming up, but I went over to the club around 10am since there was some extra stuff to take care of, starting with
WNIKA moment #5: The equipment check
Here I am with the USGA equipment guy, as he checks all of my clubs to make sure they are conforming to USGA rules. This is a voluntary check I did before the Friday practice round – at player registration, they encourage you to take your clubs for this check before the competitive rounds start).
There are a huge number of technical rules for drivers (maximum head size, springiness of the clubface) and irons (groove size and depth and shape, surface roughness) and putters (face properties and grip size and shape). Manufacturers submit a prototype model of any club design to the USGA who then does the testing at their facility and pronounce the club to be conforming or not. It would seem to me that no reputable manufacturer would sell a nonconforming club, so I wasn’t too worried about this, but I thought I would go through the whole experience.
So I brought in my clubs. He doesn’t actually do physical tests, he looks up the models of the clubs in a massive database of what is conforming and what is not. Except for my Callaway hybrid (bought at Stow Acres around 2000) and ancient Bullseye putter (bought at Orleans CC in the 1980s) all my clubs I purchased direct through Titleist about 4 years ago. I figured since these were all open purchases and not some shadow market thing, there would be no problem.
“Hmm … these should be OK” he said in an uncertain voice.
First he saw the Bullseye, marveled at its existence, and became visibly nostalgic for a simpler time. That relic approved, it was on to the wedges. “Hmm … these should be OK” he said in an uncertain voice, and my stress level ratcheted up a few notches. SHOULD be OK? What would I do if something was nonconforming? He started scrolling through some app / spreadsheet, typing in the model number, searching and searching. One by one, with much time spent frowning and searching and scrolling on his laptop, the clubs were approved. Stress level decreased (but not to its pre-inspection level!) I returned to the range to warm up for the practice round.
A couple of related equipment stories: During the practice round, Steve Camara told me his 60 degree wedge was found to be nonconforming! He immediately went into the pro shop and bought a conforming one. He actually used it quite effectively in the practice round, which impressed me, but if I had to put a new club in the bag on such short notice I would have been a little shaken.
And, it turns out, at the first tee they do an equipment survey (balls and clubs) for every competitor. One guy who had teed off at the 10th was found at the 1st to have a nonconforming club! Since he had already started play with the club in his bag, it was an automatic DQ. Didn’t matter if he had hit it or not! That is a tough, tough way to end a tournament.
Then it was over to the range to meet up with caddie Tanner and start warming up.
At the range you have a choice of brand new Pro VI or Pro VIx. Nice! This was actually pretty similar to the 1995 Publinx where they had new Titleists for us to hit, so I expected this. But the adrenaline definitely surged when I saw …
WNIKA moment #6:
they had those name cards for the range station you’re using! It definitely was a new experience to hit balls at a range station with my name on it!
I should note that I was shameless in asking various volunteers to take pictures and otherwise indulge my tourist-like desire to document every last moment of what could end up being an only-once-in-a-lifetime experience. The volunteers were without exception friendly and helpful and enthusiastic and seemed genuinely pleased that we golfers were enjoying the special treatment.
Then we began the practice round. It was relatively informal – there was a starter who made sure we were the right group, but we weren’t announced or anything. Tanner shared liberally from his local knowledge on good targets to choose.
It was immediately apparent that staying in the fairway would be essential. “USGA rough” is for real, people. It was possible to get a good lie occasionally, but there were several occasions where I was maybe 150 yards from the green but couldn’t advance it more than about 100 yards. Once it was all I could do to chop it out about 30 yards. (Later in round 1, someone had to WD after injuring his back trying to slash one out of the rough). And long rough around the greens made chipping a lottery – it was hard to know if the thick rough would grab the clubhead and kill the shot, or if ball would jump out.
The greens were very fast, but not scary or unfair fast, and they rolled absolutely pure. As good as any greens I’ve ever played on. Definitely the best I could have hoped for in terms of greens set up for an elite course preparation and my ability to perform on them. (As it turned out, I only had one 3-putt over the 36 holes of stroke play).
The weather was perfect. Overnight the wind had shifted and the hazy smoky air of the day before was replaced by bluebird skies and temperature of 75-80 degrees. As we were strolling up yet another emerald fairway surrounded by towering firs, Steve remarked on what a beautiful, beautiful course it was, and I agreed heartily.
Throughout the round I took copious notes in the yardage book on targets and strategy. By the end of the day I felt pretty positive about the overall situation. Yes I would have to keep it in play, but the course was not overly long (about 6800 yards par 72), and there were some birdie holes. I felt like I had a chance to get into the top 64 and advance to match play, which was kind of a goal / dream. (A performance goal; the experience goal was just to soak up everything and make some memories. Adding a little jolt of adrenaline to the match play goal was finding out that anyone advancing to match play is exempted into the following year’s British Senior Amateur!)
Some other entertainment in the round came from Steve Camara’s caddie, Kathleen. She was a player on the Oregon golf team so knew the course very well. Like many young people these days, she was very unfiltered in her verbal assessment of the world around her. At one point one of the other players hit an especially long drive, which Kathleen acknowledged with:
“You got your booty into that one!”
Friday evening I picked up my Mom from the Eugene airport, brought her to the hotel near the course, then for me it was off to the Marzanos for a good night’s sleep.
Day 3 Round 1
WNIKA moment #7: Caddie wearing bib with my name on the back (!)
I cannot tell a lie, when I saw the bib with my name on it I started choking. This was really happening!
There is a nice overview of the course with hole-by-hole aerial views at
We played the black tees with total yardage of about 6850 yards – a pretty stern test for some old guys!
Appendix A has the hole-by-hole breakdown of round 1. Here’s the card (started on Hole 1)
In brief: I got off to a shaky start, bogies on three of the first 6 holes. Definitely feeling the nerves; on the first tee I could barely take the club back. But got into a nice groove from 7 through 14, throwing in a great birdie on the difficult 9th hole. But then got tired and stumbled to the house in the last 4 holes, with a 3-putt on 15, a drive left into the trees on 17 and right rough on 18.
77 was tied for place 62 through 80, so I figured to be safe into the low 64 going on to match play. I would need at least a 76 (for 153 total) or maybe a 75 (for 152) in round 2 tomorrow.
Day 4 Round 2
Here’s the card (started on Hole 10)
Great start with birdie on #11 (hit wedge to 10 feet after perfect drive) but gave it back right away, failing to get up and down on #12. Another nice birdie on 14 (9 iron to 11 feet after another great drive) but got too aggressive on #16, going after a back pin and just going long, failed to get up and down from long rough. Then on 17 hit another bad drive, punched up near green, and didn’t get up and down. Still only one over par through 10 holes, not bad at all. Missed a 6 footer to save par at the tough 2nd hole, now 2 over. Just missed birdie on 3; had a nice sand save on #4. If I could play the last five in one over I would have my 75 and 152.
But this time on #5, we were playing the back tee, and a gusty wind was in our face. The hybrid would be way too much, probably leaving me a downhill sand shot, and from 185 yards the 4 iron was the right club. But I made a terrible swing and dumped it in the water. I did hit a nice lob wedge from the drop area to 20 feet but missed the bogey save and made an ugly double. I wasn’t the only one – there were 25 double bogies from the field in round 2.
Now 4 over – which would get me my 76 – but no cushion! But there were birdie holes coming up. Had a wedge in on #6, hit it to 24 feet, just missed the birdie. Pulled an 8 iron on #7, two putted from 28 feet for par. Hit a monster drive on the short par 5 8th, had 190 yards to the green, and over-adrenalized a 5-iron over the green into a bunker. Couldn’t get up and down for the birdie, but did make par, so came to the long 9th needing a par for my 76.
Hit a nice drive down the left side of the fairway, but it ended up on a funky sidehill lie with the ball well below my feet. I didn’t calibrate the flight correctly and the ball faded into the right front bunker. That was bad enough, but when I got to the bunker I saw the ball was totally plugged. The top of the ball was below the surface of the sand and I wasn’t sure if I could even advance it out of the bunker. I had done a fair amount of practicing from sand in the club’s short game practice area, and from a regular lie in the sand I was reasonable comfortable (see sand shot to 3 feet on hole #4 earlier in the round), but from this lie I had no idea what would happen. I knew whatever happened, I couldn’t leave it in the bunker, so I took a big swing and the ball just jumped out of the sand over the green, pretty much dead since the green sloped away from me big time. I chipped on to about 30 feet, two putted for another ugly double bogey, and it was all over.
As it turned out, I would have had to hole the bunker shot – the cut slipped to 152, with a 14-for-13 playoff for the last spots in match play.
I waked over to the range, which was still open as people were staying warmed up for the playoff. I went to the volunteers who had the name cards and asked for my card. They asked if I was warming up for the playoff and I said no, I just played my way out of contention over the last 5 holes, but could I take the card home with me. They said “Yes, you’ve earned it!!” and I replied thanks, but even if they didn’t say it was OK, I was going to take it anyway as a souvenir.
Then back to the locker room where I took the name card off my locker as another souvenir. I cleaned out the locker one last time, and then went to the player’s lounge for a last drink on the house.
I ended up tied for 83rd, solidly in the middle of the pack. At least I broke 80 both days, and I had shown flashes of good play here and there, but when the pressure was on I was too tired or not comfortable enough to make the swings I needed.
But overall it was a fantastic experience. The next day, Monday, Mom and I drove down to Bandon Dunes; I played 18 while she went to the spa for a well deserved massage. Then on Tuesday, back to work.
Hole by hole
Hole 1 390 yards par 4
At least was able to make contact with the tee ball, but it wasn’t a relaxed swing to say the least, and hit a hard hook into the left rough. Spotter there found it no problem and I chopped out short of the green. Putted from well off the edge and it hit a ball mark on the fringe that I didn’t see, kicking it off line and killing the speed, so I had an 18 footer to save par. Just slid by and I managed to make the 2-footer coming back for bogey.
Hole 2 213 yards par 3
A tough, tough hole – would turn out to be the toughest relative to par for the day. Needed to make a good swing and did, putting a hybrid on the green (!) to 24 feet. It was a slippery downhill putt and I hit a good one, but it just slid by and I had to make a 3 foot knee-knocker coming back for par. Good to steady the nerves a little bit.
Hole 3 386 yards par 4
Pulled the drive a little bit and had 165 yards from a moderate flier lie in the rough to a back pin. Goal was to just put an 8-iron (my 150 yard club) in the middle of the green; if it flew to the back that would be OK. Instead I hit a weak flare that dropped in the short front right bunker leaving me a 30 yards sand shot. I hit a lousy sand shot that ended up 45 feet from the hole, and I followed that with a terrible putt 8 feet short. Somehow managed to make the 8 footer to stave off the double bogey disaster – one of those turning point putts that a round can hinge on.
Hole 4 409 yards par 4
Finally hit a nice drive down the right side, and it kicked into the fairway. Had 160 yards left from a good lie and I was still so nervous and unable to put a good swing on it I bladed a 7-iron. With incredible luck, it bounced in the rough short of the green and kicked on, ending up 18 feet away!
Another surreal thing about the experience is that they have a shot tracker following the group, keeping track of everyone’s shots so the USGA can do the real time scoring. I looked at his clipboard – just recording strokes, nothing like the laser ShotLink that the PGA tour does. Anyway, after my blade-it-to-18-feet shot I confirmed with him that there was nothing recorded on trajectory. He smiled and said “No pictures on the scorecard”
The birdie bid just slide by and I made another 3-footer coming back for par.
Hole 5 160 yards par 3
A daunting par 3 with water right up to the front edge of the green. In the practice round we had played it from the 195 yard tee, and I had nightmares about which club to hit (really! Hybrid or 4-iron?) but the USGA had mercy on us and they were using a forward tee. I hit a smooth 7 iron to the middle of the green and had an uphill 28 footer. The greens were fast in the practice round and it felt to me like they were getting even faster – of course it may have been the nerves + adrenaline too. Anyway, I rolled this putt 3 feet past and had to make another knee knocker coming back for par.
Had some time consuming rules drama on this hole as one of my fellow competitors, Walter, had his ball plug short of the green – he lifted and cleaned it and dropped it, chipped on, and 2 putted for what he thought was a 4. Then when he was going to tee off on the next hole, he realized that it wasn’t his ball! Called the rules officials over, and it was a real mess. It was worse than a wrong ball because when he dropped, it was a substituted ball and it ended up being 2 strokes penalty plus he had to take stroke and distance. He ended up making a 7. He had gotten off to a great start and was 2 under coming into #5, now he left 2 over. Wow.
To Walter’s credit, he did the right thing: He could have just pocketed the wrong ball and no one would have known, but he did the right thing. (Justice was served the next day when Walter did make the cut for match play.)
Hole 6 551 yards par 5
Again, water in front of the green, so a definite three-shotter for me. In the practice round I’d played this hole perfectly: driver, 8-iron layup, sand wedge from 100 yards to 6 feet, made the putt for birdie. Got off to a good start with the driver and 8-iron to 119 yards from a downhill lie in the first cut of rough – perfect for hitting a gap wedge. I was actually a little glad to be in light rough because I didn’t want the ball to spin back into the water. Hit what I thought was a great shot, but somehow it did spin a little off the front of the green, fortunately not back into the water but into a tough lie in the rough. I chipped to 6 feet but missed the putt and took a bogey.
Three over after 6 holes. Could be better, could be worse. Time to settle down and make some pars.
Hole 7 150 yards par 3
Another par 3 over water up to the front edge of the green. Hit an 8 iron well but pulled it a little, leaving a tough 30 foot putt over a ridge and then downhill to the hole. Hit a really great putt that slid 3 feet by and again made the comebacker for par.
Hole 8 485 yards par 5
Definitely a birdie opportunity if I just keep it in the fairway. But instead blew drive way right, ball ended up on a bare spot near a tree sitting on a twig, but at least I had a swing. Punched a 7-iron out that didn’t make it to the fairway, ended up in the right rough in a semi-decent lie. From 145 yards hit a nice 8 iron onto the green, 26 feet away, slightly above the hole. Hit another good putt that just slid by, again had to make a 3-footer coming back. I walked over to my caddie Tanner and remarked that I really wanted to just have a tap in for a change.
And that I felt EXHAUSTED playing this really, really tough course! Between the nerves and the stress of making 3-footers and the whole new experience, I felt like I’d already played a full round. Time to somehow pull it together
Hole 9 450 yards par 4
Best hole of the day by far. Hit a great drive down the right side of the fairway. From 185 yards hit an 8 iron that settled hole high, 16 feet away. Stroked a perfect putt and it slipped in dead center for an excellent birdie! Even punctuated it with an old man fist pump.
So after all that, 2 over through 9 holes. Not bad! On to the back nine.
Hole 10 403 yards par 4
Hit a nice drive down the left side, only 120 yards left. But hit another poor iron shot, this time a gap wedge fat that ended up 3 yards short of the green and about 14 yards from the hole. Hit an indifferent putt to 12 feet but somehow slipped in the putt for the par save. As I said to Tanner, “great shot + lousy shot + lousy shot + great shot = par”
Hole 11 398 yards par 4
Hot another nice drive, had 130 yards left. Hit an indifferent pitching wedge to 37 feet, lagged it up to 1 foot to (finally!) have a tap in par.
Hole 12 165 yards par 3
Between clubs, hit the longer club (6 iron) to the back fringe. From 24 feet lagged to 1 foot for another tap in par. On a nice roll now.
Hole 13 512 yards par 5
Hit a hybrid in the fairway, but a little too far down the right side and partially blocked on the layup by an overhanging tree. Punched it under the tree but it had some draw and skittered into the left rough. Drew a decent lie and from 130 yards hit pitching wedge to 17 feet. Just missed the birdie bid and it slide by to tap in range for another par.
Hole 14 408 yards par 4
This once calls for a fade off the tee and I overfaded it, hitting a tree about 160 yards out. Luckily the ball dropped down into the fairway but I had about 220 yards left. Working in my favor was a slight helping wind, and an open front to the green (although bunkers on either side). My goal was to just advance it to the front edge area of the green and get up and down. The hole was cut in a devilish front position just over the edge of a false front, so front fringe would be a good place anyway.
Hit an absolutely perfect hybrid, dead online, that rolled up onto the green and left me a 27 foot downhill putt! Cozied down near the hole and tapped in for par. A real bonus! Kept the string of pars going, still only 2 over with 4 to play.
Hole 15 402 yards par 4
The toughest hole on the back nine. Dogleg left about 240 yards out, with a difficult-to-hit green angled away from the approach and a steep drop off short right.
Hit a great drive into the fairway and had only 140 yards left. But hit another indifferent iron, pulled and short, that barely made it onto the green and left me 40 feet away. Lots of slope away near the hole and hit an overly cautious putt that stopped 6 feet short, and missed it for a three-putt bogey. Ugh. First bogey since #6, but a good bounce back hole coming up.
Hole 16 540 yards par 5
Another birdie opportunity. Hit a drive into the right rough, but only had to chop out to a layup 105 yards away. Into the wind, hit a smooth gap wedge to 12 feet. Again the birdie putt just slide by and posted a par.
Hole 17 338 yards par 4
Trying to hit a fade, double-crossed it well into the left rough. Hit a sand wedge over trees but it landed in a greenside bunker. Hit an indifferent sand shot to 17 feet and missed the par save.
Hole 18 450 yards par 4
Hit a long drive, but into the right rough. Had 150 yards left, tried to cut an 8-iron around a tree but hit the tree and it dropped down 65 yards away. Hit a terrible wedge out of the rough that ended up off the front fringe 45 feet away. Putted to 3 feet and made the uphill knee-knocker to save bogey and finish with a 5-over par 77.
By the end of the day, 77 was in places 62 through 80. Looked like it would take a 76 (for 153) to be safe.
Talked to Kathleen about Steve’s round: Had it going good, 1 over through 7 and then “vomited all over himself” as he shot 81. Others in the Mass contingent included Kevin Carey (also 77) Joe Walker (also 77) and Frank Vana who had a smooth 3-under-par 69 and was in great shape.
Appendix B: Another Caddie Story
I’d asked my caddie Tanner to meet me at the range an hour before the tee time to help out while I was warming up. Before round 2, I saw Steve Camara carrying his own bag to the range. I joked with Tanner that maybe Steve had fired Kathleen. Tanner said Kathleen only shows up about 20 minutes before the tee time. I wondered if this was standard practice and I was making Tanner overcommit. I didn’t ask but I gave him an extra tip, raising his total compensation to $120 for each of the stroke play rounds.