What can you say about the JSO that hasn’t already been said? It’s pure sporting spectacle. But in the past couple of years, we’ve also realized that it may be the most evenly matched golf contest in all the land. It took 20 holes to decide the historic 2012 version, and this year it seemed like extra holes were possible again until Stars & Stripes up there made the putt of his loving life on the 18th green. It was a well-deserved and emotional win, especially for Haas, who takes ownership of the championship belt buckle for the 1st time. You could say he was born to wear it, and his general intoxication–with life, with Coors Light, with the result–on the 18th green made it hard for the losing team to feel too bad about themselves. But, it still stings. The accessories closet is a bit barren. Speaking of which…
Before we get into the rundown (I think I’ll do hole-by-hole this year), it’s important to note that Pickering is in uncommonly bad shape. You really should never, ever go play that golf course. It’s not in “HAHA bad shape,” it’s borderline unplayable. The rumor that “The Pick,” is about to be shutdown was denied in the clubhouse, but the course conditions could lead you to believe otherwise. Scary day for the JSO, and a sad day for those with deep-rooted feelings of Chester County golf nostalgia.
1st Hole–The first hole is a spot for ceremonial pictures, we usually get our weirdest looks as well. The course was certainly more crowded this year. More eyes took in the show. A single college player asked us right before we went off, “Mind if I go ahead–you guys look…pretty serious.” Fire away young man! Team 3PT/Rando would win the 1st when Stars and Stripes 3 putted from about 12 feet. Not foreshadowing.
2nd Hole–The 2nd Hole is closest to the pin/furthest to the pin must drink a beer. The winning team drank, there was another 3-putt, this one for a halve and we moved to the 3rd tee still 1-up.
3rd Hole–Three is where the modified shamble really takes hold. Haas hit the green in “1” and proceeded to make birdie to square the match. Walking off the green I said, “We’ve got a horserace with 15 holes to go.” I was dead-on.
4th Hole–I panic when i realize I haven’t put on any sunscreen and I’m playing golf without a hat on for the first time in maybe 30 years. That’s just an aside. But, on the 4th hole we try to get a perfect shot of everyone at impact on the tee. This has never worked. Until…
5th Hole–I think we halved the 4th? It’s not important. The 5th hole is long drive/short drive drinks a beer. The 5th is also where Haas hit a car last year (on the bounce/no injuries), but at 375 yards, dead downhill–you don’t want to leave the driver in the bag. Everyone missed safely left off the tee. Then Haas’ shot from the left rough went sailing toward the street. I calmly said, “That’s over the road.” The ball then hit the street about 2 inches from a car. We lost the hole–I probably 3 putted.
6th Hole–Putters only Par-3. Sounds fun, and it is. At almost 200 yards, it’s a long putt. Rando lasered one down there to about 40 yards and we easily made four from there. Cakewalk city. Back to all square.
7th Hole–High water mark for Team Rando/3PT. After a big drive I coaxed in a 40 foot birdie putt which set off a wild celebration on the green. Rando, “Was that the longest putt you’ve ever made.” Me: “No. Maybe.”
8th Hole–Let’s just say we followed up that putt with the quote, “I think that’s the worst shot I’ve ever seen Gross hit.” It was also my first “negative one” for a truly horrible shot. Pretty embarrassing. In my defense, it’s not that easy to play golf in suspenders. Of course, Haas was in overalls. We lose the hole–back to all square.
9th Hole–Don’t really remember. We halved it. Just a race to get to the clubhouse at this point, get some calories back in the system. Non-liquid calories, that is.
10th Hole–Reverse Shamble. Playing from the worst ball, both teams have to re-tee after hitting the ball out of play. From the JSO approved drop zone, I hit one to 4 feet, then miss the putt. We’re still tied. I’m starting to think about missed opportunities? No, still confident.
11th Hole–We lose control of the JSO thanks to another bogey from the middle of the fairway. Somewhere around this point, Stars & Stripes finds the zone, the perfect BAL? Whatever it is, he starts playing steady performer to Haas’ erratic greatness.
12th Hole–One down, Rando and I both miss the green from 60? 50? 38 yards? And, we begin arguing with each other. I’m not sure about what. Who was playing worse? I think I said, “My partner can’t hit a chip shot.” Then he said, “Whose drive got us down there?” Then we were fine. Somehow the hole was halved.
13th Hole–We get back to even after the winners can’t locate either of their tee shots.
14 Hole–We go right back to one behind thanks to a 7 (net 4 birdie) from Haas. This included two swings and misses, the 1st of which was rewarded a (-1) great shot point. It may be of note that at this point, Haas’ posture has started to noticeably change. He’s really getting down there with his ball at this point. Getting personal….
15th Hole–One club only. Last year on this hole I made a par with just my 7-iron. For some reason I switch to 8-iron this year, but still manage to hit the green in 2 shots. We have a decided edge until Stars & Bars knocks one in for the halve from about 12 feet with his something-iron. Is there destiny involved in this? Still one down.
16th Hole–Beer Par. Haas is the only player who has ever successfully tried or completed a beer par (three beers) on the Par 3 sixteenth hole. But, as we drove to the tee, both teams plotted their strategy. Not willing to go dormie two, we decided we at least needed to threaten Beer Par. Somehow I got nominated for this. I actually got off to a good start before Rando knocked it to about 10 feet with his damn driver from 145. Shot of the Day! I scaled off of beer par, Haas completed it easily and the hole was tied in threes.
17th Hole–Down one, I decide it’s time to put a tee through the cap of a water bottle and hit off that. There is some discussion over whether this is wise, considering the situation, but it feels like the only thing to do. 17 is pretty generous off the tee, an embarrassing, short par-5 and we managed to get one down there and win the hole. ALL SQUARE.
*Unfortunately I was not able to upload the video of this shot, or any of our other fine videos. I will work on that.
18th Hole–Here we go. For the record, I still feel like we’re going to win, but there is no hard evidence to support that feeling. Eighteen, contrary to some other holes at Pickering is ALMOST a real hole. It’s probably 400 yards. A bit uphill. Both teams were fine off the tee, but true to the day’s form, Rando and I both missed the green while Stars and Stripes connected. No offense, but this was one of the 13 most unlikely GIRs in golf history. This is what we were up against. So, I go up there and chip to about 20 feet (terrible). Rando’s in his pocket, because remember–he can’t chip at all and it looks like Kev, there I said it, his name is Kev has two comfortable putts for the win. Until he rolls the first one 12 FEET PAST. New life? Nope, he calmly drained it. Everyone fought back tears. I took off the belt and another JSO was in the books…
Few More Shots…