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Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Bethel Wars: Round 3, Wes By 5

ASU Karsten Golf Club, 8th fairway
The fat lady did not sing for me in our final round of the 2014 Thanksgiving edition of the Bethel Wars.  David Bates had picked the ASU Karsten Golf Course for our third round.  It's a links-style course carved out of the Sonoran Desert and quite frankly I struggled from my first drive to my last putt.

The Gold Canyon Sidewinder and Dinosaur Mountain fairways, broad and forgiving, were behind me.  I faced a much more complicated terrain on the home ground of the fabled ASU Sun Devils.  Fairways rocked and rolled around moguls, hidden bunkers took me by surprise, and those small, links-style greens were peppered with deceptive breaks that defied my generally reliable ability to read the putting surface.

Wes, however, seemed to settle into the course from his first drive.  Karsten fit his game like a comfortable old shoe and I marveled at his command of a track that had me on the ropes.  The tables had turned.  My vision of a clean sweep faded.

Wes took the first hole and we halved the next three, but by the 5th hole I knew I was at the disadvantage on this last round.  He was up by 2 at the turn and the back 9 just held more of the same.   Even the par 3s -- usually my friends -- were spanking me.  But my playing partner was having such fun and playing so well that it was impossible to be upset with my own, sadly deficient game.

I opted for giving the round what I had and enjoying the opportunity to watch the boy who's become a man and with whom I've shared endless rounds of golf over the span of four decades slam his drives off the tee and send his ball with laser-like accuracy across the hazards that were proving my undoing.  The guy who couldn't make a putt two days ago was suddenly back in the zone, effortlessly sinking 20 footers while my putts slid slightly right, then slightly left of the cup.

In the end, when the fat lady sang it was Wes by 5.

Back at the rental there were any number of non-golfing Bethels who'd speculated on the outcome of this final round in the 2014 Thanksgiving series.

You don't seem upset that you lost, one of the non-golfers said in an aside to me.

Why would I be upset?  I got a marvelous gift, 3 rounds of golf with the boy who used to trail along beside me every Sunday afternoon when the only family recreation I could afford was a cheap 9 holes at student rates on the University of Oklahoma course, the young adolescent who was so very proud on the first day he outdrove me, the man who lured me back to the game after a three decade hiatus.

And so the 2014 Thanksgiving edition of the Bethel Wars came to a close when I recorded the ASU Karsten score -- Wes, +5 -- on one of the dollar bills we keep trading back and forth.