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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkin Cup: Day 1, Star Fort Team - 5, Woodfin Ridge Team - 3

Star Fort Team Members Marie Pate (left)
& Ruth Glasl (right)  trying to grab the Pumpkin
Let me give you a little background on The Pumpkin Cup.  It's a 2-day, match play event.  The 2013 Pumpkin Cup is the 4th playing of the event.  Day 1 we play Captain's Choice in 2-women teams and Day 2 we play Best Ball, again in 2-women teams.  I've started lobbying for an expansion of the format to include a 9-hole singles match, but that's something for the future.

This year, for the first time, Sandra Boyter, the Woodfin Ridge team captain, Barb and I (the Star Fort co-captains) agreed in advance on the size of our team rosters.  Each club would bring 16 players to the Pumpkin Cup, split into 8 teams, each match worth 1 point.

Last year we finally developed some rules about format and so forth that we hoped would resolve some of the issues that had to be negotiated annually.  The rules haven't entirely resolved the annual negotiations, but they have simplified some aspects of event planning.

First, We Eat!
The Woodfin Ridge LGA, 2012 winners of the Pumpkin Cup, need only accumulate 50% of the available points to retain the Pumpkin.  The Star Fort LGA, the challengers, must accumulate 50% + 1/2 point to gain control of the Pumpkin.  This year, that means Woodfin Ridge needs 8 points to retain the Pumpkin and Star Fort needs 8.5 points to win the Pumpkin.

The event always begins with Saturday lunch.  The Pumpkin is brought into the dining area of the hosting club, generally with considerable fanfare.  This year Ruth and Marie attempted to grab the Pumpkin as it processed.  Woodfin Ridge reminded them that it's not ours right now, not yet!

Next, We Visit
First we eat, and Sandra and I talk about the history and ethos of the Pumpkin Cup, because there are always a few women who are new to the event and they need to be initiated into Pumpkin Cup club.

We try to allow about half an hour between lunch and the start for time on the driving range and the practice green, but today we were a little bit slow getting started.  We needed to wait for the Saturday men's group (the old men who play in fivesomes) to make the turn, and they'd been slow to start their play because of a frost delay.  So we gained a few minutes, and took that opportunity to visit.

Eventually the old men made the turn and we rolled out to take control of the front 9.  After an hour and a half of very pleasant socializing, things turned serious fast.  Linda, who had loaned me a glove when I realized I had forgotten to put on in my golf purse, was transformed from friend to enemy.  Theresa, with whom we play fairly regularly, was all business and no smiles.

Barb and I were paired for the Day 1 Captain's Choice format.  She's a long hitter and I'm generally the short girl.  I have a decent short game and she often struggles with her putter.  It's a good pairing.  We were playing Linda and Theresa.  The match unfolded.  Barb and I made a good start and were up 1 after the 2nd hole.  Things were all square, for several holes.  Linda and Theresa were up 1, then 2.  Barb and I both his tee shots on a par-3 into bunkers, Barb on the left, me on the right.  We saved par, then got 1 back, then 2 and things were all square again.  Then my putter hiccuped.  And did it again.   Barb had an adult beverage.  We both drove right, into the rough.  I hit the longest drive of my career.  Barb made a 15 foot, downhill birdie putt.  But we couldn't save our match.  With 2 holes remaining we were dormie, then lost the next hole.  It was over for us.

Back to the clubhouse and the leaderboard.  Fred was putting up scores as they came in, and it looked fairly tight when we turned in our scorecard.  But with matches ending, the intensity of the competitive moment was being replaced by clubhouse camaraderie.  Two Woodfin Ridge women separately shared with me how very much they were enjoying the Pumpkin Cup.  This was the first "golf trip" for both of them.

Cheryl, our highest handicapper, was paired with Beast Miller, our lowest handicapper, for Captain's Choice.  Cheryl was very nervous before the match.  Playing with Beast can be an intimidating experience under the most casual golfing experience.  Cheryl and Beast were already in the clubhouse when Barb and I got back in.  They had won their match.  I asked Cheryl how the round went for her.  She answered with an enormous smile, and told me, Today I learned that I can play golf!

Planning a tournament involves a lot of headaches, but after I chatted with the first-time golf trippers and with Cheryl I remembered why we plan this event, why we send emails back and forth negotiating little tournament details, why we put as much energy into planning the menu as we do arranging the pairings.  We do all this to ensure that women who love to play golf will be able, yet again, to experience the sweetly intense pleasure of competition among friends.

Tomorrow morning we will tee off at 10.  It will be cold.  We may have a frost delay.  But we will play our hearts out once we get to the tees.  I hope we bring the Pumpkin back to Star Fort.  I'll do my very best to see that happen.  We're more than half-way there at the end of Day 1!