Google+ Badge

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Bethel Wars: Round 1, Mom By A Lot!

Wes and me at the turn, Gold Canyon Golf Resort Sidewinder
We played the 2014 Thanksgiving edition of the ongoing Bethel Wars in the Phoenix metro area.  Why Phoenix?  With good winter weather and good golf, why not Phoenix?

We hadn't been in town 24 hours when Wes and I left the other Bethels still settling into our rental and took off for the first round of our 3-round Thanksgiving match at the Gold CanyonGolf Resort Sidewinder course on a beautiful Arizona Tuesday afternoon.  ( If you're in the area and looking for a course, check out my Discount Tee Times review of Sidewinder. ) 

It was a new track for both of us and in theory would have been a level playing field except that Wes had done something awful to his left knee the previous Sunday and was limping badly when we dropped our bags and started our Getting-Ready-To-Play-Golf routine.  

I'd offered to delay the round -- we had a week -- and let his icing schedule and yoga do their work, but he waved that away and so there we were, putting on our shoes, warming up on the range, and rolling a few putts on a practice green that felt slick as glass.  Scott Scherger, the Director of Golf at Gold Canyon, had warned us that the greens would be fast, rolling about 10.5.  

As I looked out over the Sonoran desert terrain -- so very different from the lush, almost tropical Carolina environment where I play most of my golf -- I felt some trepidation.  How would my game play in this here in the southwestern desert?  Was it good enough to take on this rugged terrain?

I didn't need to fret.  As soon as I hit my first tee shot I knew my game had made the trip from the East Coast intact.  I was in the zone, relaxed, swinging smoothly, using Bonnie Bell's advice to keep it slow and let the club do the work as my swing thought.  I love that feeling! 

The Sidewinder fairways are broad and forgiving and although there's very little rough between the short grass and the nasty desert waste areas, for most of the round I stayed out of trouble off the tees.  The same can't be said for Wes.  

Playing with an injured knee he struggled to transfer his weight and his tee shots were even wilder that usual.  Even with both of us watching his shots and searching through the desert scrub, he lost something on the order of 17 balls.  I felt badly for him.  We relaxed our usual one-mulligan-per-side rule and didn't count anything except the ball he eventually played -- isn't that what Moms do when their little boys get hurt?  At our level of play those tee boxes and handicaps are designed to level the playing field and allow us to enjoy both our round and a more balanced competition, and an injury that's inhibiting weight transfer needs to be accommodated.  I think that comes under #7 in Matt Ginella and Charlie Rymer's Relaxed Rules of Golf.

I really enjoyed the Sidewinder greens.  My putter was hot and despite some tricky breaks and downhill lies I couldn't seem to miss putt.  I played the par-3s fairly well and collected a pair of birdies, which is always a nice boost.

But nothing helped Wes.  The bottom line is that it wasn't a fair competition, even playing with relaxed rules.  I brought my best game to the round and he left his back at the rental.  I hoped he hadn't left it in California.  These uneven competitions really aren't much fun -- we've had them before and I've been on the losing end enough to know how demoralizing it can be.  I shouldn't have worried.  When he put the dollar on the table that evening he warned me:

It's not over.  The fat lady didn't sing, and my knee's better.