What can you say about the Jean Short Open that hasn’t already been said? Year six of the JSO is a bit like re-watching one of your favorite movies. You know you are going to love it, but you aren’t sure if you are going to discover something you’ve never seen before. Well, just like in all other areas, the JSO never, ever disappoints.
For the first time ever the JSO was pushed to Labor Day weekend. A devastating wrist injury (suffered before Sunday’s photo leak) pushed back the original date and after a special request by Rodger Goodell to not distract the nation from the start of the NFL season, we ended up choosing to spend part of our holiday weekend at fabled Pickering Valley Golf Club.
What wasn’t new this year:
1. I lost again! What the hell is going on here? Can you blame your partner two straight years when you have different partners. Checking….nope, looks like I can’t do that. The second year without the belt is not going to be any easier than the first. Believe me.
2. MOST CLOSELY CONTESTED ATHLETIC EVENT ON EARTH. The JSO, for the 2nd time in 3 years required extra holes and for the 3rd straight year was all square headed into 18. If the Ryder Cup produces half the drama, I’d expect monster ratings.
3. I thought I had a good outfit, until I saw everyone else’s outfit.
4. No one, and no animals were injured during the playing of the JSO.
5. Coors Light remains the beverage of choice (though just barely).
What was new:
1. We broke a rule at Pickering. Apparently there is at least one rule, and this year we finally broke it.
2. Someone fell out of a golf cart.
One strange thing that happens with the JSO is you sometimes end up with similar outfits or themes. After all, the championship belts only exist because two of them showed up independently one year. So this year, not only did we have three vest, but these two ball strikers went for a formal flair, landing somewhere between Bagger Vance, The Good Humor Man, and an old-timey carnival barker? Regardless, the point is, the greatness of the JSO lies in the fact that two people MIGHT show up in identical white newsboy caps.
After our traditional parking lot beer, the day started with our first ever real reaction in the golf shop. Should note that a group loading up their cars was equally horrified by our presence and one guy seemed to actively peel out in an attempt to dissociate from us as quickly as possible. Or maybe he was late for his kid’s soccer game. I DON’T KNOW. So, in the shop the guy beyond the counter grumbled something about us “starting a new look,” and then made a horribly racist joke. It was uncomfortable, and I don’t want people to judge Pickering as a whole, but our takeaway was, “We finally got someone to feel something.” Progress?
The round started out well for yours truly and my partner. After I birdied the 3rd hole to send us to 2 up, I said, “Don’t worry, it’s not like we’re going to shoot 66….or ARE WE?” Spoiler Alert: We didn’t. This is what the winners were up against:
After the first few holes, things went back and forth for the rest of the front nine. The one thing to note was the incredible beer pace that the winning team was setting. These guys were hammering down adult beverages and not looking back. Was it hurting their games? Do they have games to hurt? So many questions. In our cart there was some discussion as we played the signature 8th hole about whether or not our opponents could make it 18 holes. Were they slow rolling us? Spolier Alert: YES!
So, we were one down going into nine, which turned into a real circus when The Mummers brought to you by Men’s Wearhouse was dislodged from his golf cart during a sharp turn. No footage of this exists as it happened closer to the 18th hole than the one we were playing and things had gotten a little heated on the tee box over the lack of a “great shot point.” I forgot to mention that the JSO probably gets more competitive every year. Anyway, someone finally fell out of a cart. It took six years.
Much like the front nine, we built an early lead on the back, taking holes 10 (reverse scramble) and 11 with ease. I would say at this point we got overconfident. But then the vagaries on the JSO started to catch up to us…
On 14, still up two shots, Haas hit his tee shot directly over his right shoulder (he’s a lefty). This is pretty much a 180 degree angle to the tee box. The ball rose, barely cleared the carts that were parked pretty much behind us, and landed like a butterfly. That’s a great shot point. Due to the complex scoring system, despite taking that and many other swings on the hole, Haas had a putt FOR EAGLE. He does not waste such opportunities. We were back to one up.
Then, we get to 15. Which is one club. This has always held a special place in my heart as I fashion myself as an immensely more talented ball striker than I actually am. But this year I chose my 7-iron, hit a good drive, scraped one near the green and secured us the win we needed to get back to 2-UP.
Two up with three to go sounds comfortable, unless you are Mark Calcavecchia at the ’91 Ryder Cup, or you are about to play the 16th hole, which of course is: BEER PAR! Our team decided to not go for beer par this year since we had the lead. We actually got quite close to making par anyway (Par 3 hole–drivers only), but that was of little matter as our opponents (MVP Haas again) easily did beer par, as always, and cut our lead in half.
Seventeen is the easiest par-5 in the state of PA–on paper–made more difficult by a day’s worth of drinking and the relatively new rule that I have to hit my drive off the top of a water bottle.
I didn’t quite catch all of the drive, but thanks to my partner we were still in fine shape off the tee. From there, I don’t really recall all the details, again lot of scoring details, but moral was we lost 17 as well. Back to all square. On the way to 18, our opponents got their cart stuck on a railroad tie. This is the 2nd time in my life I’ve had to rescue a cart from a railroad tie and both times I was playing with this foursome. WEIRD. That attempted distraction DID NOT WORK as we halved 18 and went on to extra holes. At this point we headed across the parking lot to the 16th tee–thus leading to our first ever reprimand at Pickering. You see, one of our outfits had changed…due to the rising humidity:
You see, there are a couple rules at Pickering. One of which is, you must be in sleeves. So, while darkness is about to fall and we’re about to play the most important hole of the year the guy from the shop comes out and tells us that a) we have to ask if we want to play extra holes and b) that shirt just isn’t going to fly. It just “doesn’t look good.” YEP, that’s what doesn’t look good at Pickering. Anyway, we threw on some sleeves and got on with the playoff.
As with all JSO playoffs, this one ended with a very short missed putt. A three footer can break several inches on the 16th green at Pickering, such is the natural pitch of the land, and the greens are also incredibly slow, so this is quite the combination. Our team missed two putts and that was all she wrote. Another year of heartache. It takes 24 hours to process all that Coors Light, but it’s another 365 until you get a chance to get that belt back.