Fourth in a series of daily first-person stories from the 35th Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship – the world’s largest golf tournament.
By TONY LEODORA
Any optimism spawned by a better ball-striking and putting display in Round Two of the World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle Beach quickly dissipated in Round Three. It was dashed by a very fickle lady – Lady Luck. She apparently missed her wakeup call.
In fact, Willie Nelson was probably thinking of my golf game when he uttered the words, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.”
Tiger’s Eye is one of the four courses at the upscale Ocean Ridge Plantation in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. It is one of the better-regarded courses on the entire Grand Strand. But it was more like a Greek tragedy for me.
Drives that hit the fairway ran one foot into heavy rough. Approach shots that hit the middle of the green ran off the back, one foot into heavy rough. Shots that started out slightly on the wrong path took horrific bounces and found hazards. Sounds kept breaking concentration at the top of my backswing. A fly landed on by golf ball in the middle of my putting stroke.
Are you feeling my pain?
And the new greens at Tiger’s Eye, though healthy and relatively smooth, drove everyone in our group crazy. They looked faster but every putt came to a screeching halt just short of the hole. Of course, I led the pack on putts that were seemingly headed for the middle of the hole but consistently ran out of gas. Nobody made any putts.
It became a bit of a joke by the end of the round – for four players who failed to record a single birdie on the day.
Bottom line: I found a way to make bogey on just about every hole (except for two double-bogeys), resulting in a very frustrating 89 that ensured another year of mediocrity.
Andy Reeves (86) was my cart partner and a delightful person with whom to spend five hours of semi-torture.
He is a native of Yardley, Pennsylvania who now splits his year between Okahumpka, Florida (northwest of Orlando) and the western mountains of North Carolina. Reeves got introduced to Florida after graduating from Pennsbury High School and enrolling in Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He became an aeronautical engineer and spent most of his career in the aerospace industry.
The Florida ties for Reeves have been reinforced, ever since his daughter married Miami Marlins’ All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Steve Hersch (89) is from Falls Church, Virginia. Everyone in our flight knows him. He runs the daily skins game. He can be heard – about every two minutes each morning – bellowing in a voice that could direct large ships into port through the thickest fog, “Skins Heeyahh!” His southern accent adds to the morning cattle call.
Don Bailey (91) is a small business owner from Fredericksburg, Virginia. He is one continuous ball of nervous chatter. While trying to be funny, he delivered both play-by-play and commentary – before and after each shot, for each player. For the most part of the day, nobody in our foursome talked to him … We didn’t want to interrupt him.
In all honesty, the course setup at Tiger’s Eye detracted from the beauty of a very good layout. Many holes were located on the side of hills or on a hump. Complaints from other players were abundant.
This is not the first time this has happened at Tiger’s Eye. A few years ago, even more severe hole locations … on quicker greens led to rounds that approached six hours. Today’s endurance test was five hours and 20 minutes.
Somebody on the staff delights in torturing the World Am visitors.
Hopefully, the same doesn’t happen tomorrow on a difficult Pawley’s Plantation course.