Extra Points: Masters, Tee Ball Add Up to Memorable Weekend
In golf parlance, an eight on a scorecard is called a "snowman."
My round during Saturday's "Masters" tournament at Cape May National Golf Club not only featured a pair of "Frosty's," I also built an igloo for them to kick back in and watch Scottie Scheffler win the real tournament at Augusta National.
It marked the fifth straight year that I've played in CMN's tournament. Fifty of us chose a Masters participant out of a hat, then combined our 18-hole score Saturday with their Sunday final round.
I picked Hudson Swafford, whose most noteworthy shot of the Masters came during Friday's second round, when his clubhead flew off one of his irons. He shot 2-over 74 on Sunday, but he could have shot 54 and I still wouldn't have been within 10 shots of winning.
I had high expectations. Just a week earlier, I broke 80 for the first time in over two years with a 79. But the golf gods are a cruel bunch. This time, I was at 79 after 14 holes, courtesy of an absolutely horrendous/comical front nine that featured those two eights and a Roy McAvoy-esque 11.
On a par 3.
My No. 4 hybrid is usually my go-to club for anything between 150 and 180 yards, mostly because I lost my five and six irons a few years back and have yet to replace them. It failed me at No. 6, which required a 160-yard shot into the wind over water to an elevated green.
I topped my tee shot, which plopped into the bond and startled a swan. Half-mad and half-embarrassed, I reteed and sent another Titliest into the drink, prompting said swan to duck his head and neck under the surface, lest he run the risk of being decapitated.
I dug into my bag and retrieved another ball, then trudged to the edge and took out a 9 iron for a 120-yard shot. It went about five yards farther than the first two attempts, resulting in another penalty while the swan floated farther out of range. Shot number seven also dribbled into the lake before I finally found the green and two-putted for a double hockey-sticks.
My playing partner, multi-time Women's Club Champion Jane Menendez, finally stopped laughing as we made our way to the Par-5 seventh hole, then started chuckling again when we looked over and saw the swan fly away.
Naturally, I parred the seventh after lipping out a five-foot birdie putt, then made three more pars during the round to go with my two eights.
But I was still smiling because of a video that popped up on my cell phone.
Playing in the tournament caused me to miss opening day of the Lower Township Little League. My two oldest grandsons, Hampton (6) and Graham (almost 4), are playing tee ball this season for Eldridge Electric and had their first game Saturday. Hampton also played last season and is the early favorite for the Silver Slugger Award. There's a slight chance Graham could win Rookie of the Year. When I asked him earlier in the week if he was excited, he said, "Yes, Poppy! I have a hat (batting helmet) and one of those things you put your hand in."
He meant a baseball mitt.
Mimi (my wife Karen) kept me up to date with a few videos. Their team was in the field when a batter hit a grounder that rolled through the infield to the grass into short right field. All 12 players, including the third baseman and shortstop, ran to the ball, tackling each other in the process.
The first at-bat was also memorable. Each hitter advances one base at a time while the final batter gets to circle the bases. The manager wisely organized the batting order in alphabetical order, which meant Graham was next-to-last and Hampton was in the cleanup spot.
Graham's first at-bat saw him swat a slow roller up the first base line and he happily sprinted to first with some coaxing from the coach. When Hampton sent a hard grounder up the middle, Graham took off again ... And ran to the pitcher's mound.
Hey, even Mike Trout had to start somewhere.
Most importantly, they had fun, which is what sports is supposed to be all about at that age.
Their smiles melted my snowmen.