The high temperature tomorrow is barely supposed to crack the freezing mark. The wind will be blustery. It will be sunny, but all told, it’s a good thing it’s Thanksgiving morning, because nobody has to go anywhere until later in the day.
Which is why I’ll be up at 7:30 to check in with the golf course to make sure it’s still open.
That’s right, tomorrow is the third annual Thanksgiving Golf Classic. And lest you think this is just for fun and isn’t serious business, we even have a trophy.
A couple years back, one of my buddies (we’ll call him Chuck – all names will be changed to protect the hideous golfers being mentioned) commented in mid-September that it looked like his golf season was over. He works every day, and usually gets out around 2:30 or 3:00 on the weekend, so during the summer we have plenty of time to make it to the local golf course and get in 18 holes before it’s too dark. But by the end of summer, the days are just a little bit too short for him to get home and make it to the course in time to finish the round.
Anyway, since he didn’t have any days off, he said “unless we play on Thanksgiving, when the store is closed, I guess I’m done for the year.” About two-tenths of a second later I replied, “so let’s play on Thanksgiving then!”
I pitched the idea to a couple of our usual playing partners; the response was immediate. And thus, the TGC was born.
We use a modified Stableford scoring system, and it is modified in a way that really exemplifies just how bad we are. In a Stableford system, birdies and eagles earn positive points while bogeys and worse earn negative points. We usually play with double bogeys or worse being -3; this year, triple bogeys or worse get you a big honking -5 on the card. We made this change to reduce the chance of a tie, which has been an issue in the first two TGCs.
In 2011, “Donny” led for most of the day, but I made a late charge. On the par-3 17th, I missed a par putt that would have tied the score. This was critical because our agreed-upon tiebreaker was that whoever had the best Stableford score on the 18th hole would win; if that was a tie, then we’d work back in reverse until we had a winner. Essentially, whoever caught the leader would get the win.
On 18, Donny had made his double or triple bogey or whatever, and I had a bogey putt that would have closed the two-point gap, tied the score, and given me the trophy. I missed it, and Donny was the champion.
I was crestfallen, but resolved to win it the next year. And I did just that…kind of.
See, we found ourselves on the same course and in the same predicament; Donney led by two points after 16 holes. This time, however, I made the bogey putt on 18, he went high, and I took home the trophy on a tiebreaker.
In sum: I am the defending Thanksgiving Golf Classic champion, even though I didn’t actually win, per se.
Tomorrow’s event is at a different course, albeit one that I’ve played. Donny beat me that day by making par on 18 while I shot closer to 12 than four. I guess it was my turn to blow a lead to him, huh?
Obviously, I will be disappointed if I don’t win, but with a tougher course, in what are sure to be difficult, uncomfortable conditions, I really don’t know what to expect. Anyone can win, and that’s part of the beauty of the thing.
A week and a half ago, when I went out for my “return” round, it was chilly. I wore shorts, as I almost always do when playing golf, but I had longsleeves and a jacket. I still felt the chill, especially when the breeze was blowing, but I was too happy to be out on the course for it to matter. Donny, on the other hand, had on golf pants and a “performance” fleece or whatever, but afterwards noted that while the weather was nice, it was just a little too cold for him.
Oh, man. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, kid.