Fourth in a series of daily first-person stories from the 36th Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship – the world’s largest golf tournament.
By TONY LEODORA
Batting cleanup in baseball is a position of honor. It denotes a certain amount of talent, accomplishment and respect.
Batting cleanup in your golf foursome is a different thing altogether. The position is earned through incompetence.
I know. I batted cleanup throughout the third round of the World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle Beach at Arcadian Shores GC. It sucks to be last.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. After two days of posting the worst scores in my 20-year history at the World Am, I found a new high in the scoring column and a new low in my competitive history – 97.
The latest ailment was the inability to get any irons airborne, unless they were hit from a tee. Otherwise, it was a day-long string of chunks, worm-burners and shanks.
Add a wild driver and the end result was gory. To show how bad I hit the ball, I actually putted better than the first two rounds – 33 putts, despite not making anything longer than seven feet.
The good news on the day was I got to play with Denny Burch, the Harrisburg area resident and Villanova grad who I have enjoyed playing with in previous years. The bad news is that I brought the leader after two rounds, down to my level in the third. He shot an uncharacteristic 86 but still sits in fourth place.
The rest of our foursome was quite interesting.
Richard Beck now lives fulltime in Myrtle Beach, after living and working all over the world. His most interesting previous stop was a 12-year stint in Saudi Arabia. He shot 84 and sits in 6th place.
Paul Castro (84) was my cart partner – a lively character who was born in Brooklyn and has lived in North Jersey for many years. He worked on Wall Street as a trader, then went to work selling commercial dishwashing systems to restaurants, hospitals, schools, etc.
He is my kind of guy. Brought down the ingredients from North Jersey and made a huge pot of tomato sauce with sausage, meatballs and spare ribs – plus chicken cutlets – for “his boys” back at the house. Since he was too far behind the flight leader, all he talked about was “hunting birdies” all day, hoping to win a skin. He made two birdies on tough holes.
Arcadian Shores was the first solo design of noted architect Rees Jones. It underwent a major renovation two years ago and has responded well. Conditions were excellent and, although overall scores were highest of any of our three rounds, the consensus of players was that they really enjoyed the course.