Beacon Rock, Dec 6, 2008

Golfnow had a great price, the sun was out, the Goose wanted to study, I wanted to off I went.

Hole one has a slight right bend, trees along the right, open to the left.  I slapped it about 250 yards, ended up curving around the trees and along the right-center of the fairway. A nice chip, 2 putt, PAR. Nice start.

Hole 2 has a bend left at about the 125 from green mark, a 285 yard hole. About a 240 yard drive left me about 60 yards off the green after I faded right. I hit the front of the fringe and 3 putted for bogey. 

Hole 3 is a 150 yard straight par 3. Well, except the trees that overhang both sides. So keep it low and go straight or, like me, ramp up an 8 iron, get under it, and end up about 10 yards short. My chip left some work to be done, 2-putt, bogey.

Hole 4 is a Par 5, 391 yards so not especially long. I lost sight of my first shot, was pretty sure it was along the right side, maybe just into the sparse trees. Never found it. Technically, I should have re-teed. Instead, I backed off to about the 200 yard marker and dropped in the rough. Not officially correct, definitely Drew correct. 7 wood was a few yards short of the green. Chip was weak, 2 putt. I counted the drop for a 6, bogey.

Hole 5 There is water, but no way to tell how far away. Well, there is one way...shorten your swing and put your drive into it. Re-tee, crushed it. It is a 467 yard hole and I was about 135 off the green, well over the water. An 8-iron got me close, 1 putt PAR even after the penalty!

Hole 6Par 4, 316 yards, water down the right side, trees close on the left. I was right of the water. About 100 yards, took a gap wedge, landed short, chipped on, 2 putt, bogey.

Hole 7, par 4, 345, trees left, trees, water and houses right. Sliced a bit, but still had a clean look at the elevated green. Did not want to be short, added a club, skulled it, over green to the back fringe. Chip was wimpy (notice a trend?), 2 putt, bogey.

Hole 8, 134 yard par 3. My pitching wedge is my 135 yard club. Yet I left it short. My chip barely got on the green, 2 putt, bogey. 

Hole 9 starts tight but opens up, a 333 yard par 4. However, if you go right on the tee shot, a large oak overhangs the right side of the green. I crushed the drive about 250 yards, shanked my chip over the tree, then barely chipped onto the green, 2 putt. 

43 for the front, I was pretty happy with that. I thought I was playing poorly; my drive was all over the place, my chipping was short, short, short, short...but averaging 2 putts per hole covers a lot of errors.

The back plays slightly different as they change I think 3 tee boxes. Hole 10, though, is just playing hole 1 again.

This time I sliced and ended up where I was worried about hitting a tree on my back swing, even though about 20 practice swings showed I had lots of room. I actually whiffed on the ball I was worrying so much about hitting the tree. I did not count the stroke since I did not hit the ball, don't know the "official" rules and was playing Weasel golf. Then I shanked the shot right of the green. A short chip left me a make able putt which I left short. Bogey.

Hole 11 Par 4 I was worried about my driver, you don't want to go too far, so I pulled out my beloved 7 wood. And promptly chunked it about 130 yards and right, leaving myself a 160 yard shot. For some inexplicable reason, I whipped out my 8 iron instead of my 5 or 6. In a shock to, well, nobody, that left me short. Tired of landing short, I chipped over the green for variety. Back onto the green, 2 putt, a 6. My first big number. 

Hole 12, the 150 yard par 3. I aired it out, thought it was great, but ended up about 6 yards short. Nice chip for a change, about a 5' putt for PAR.

Hole 13 This time they changed the tee box, making in a 338 yard hole and the hardest on the course. I clipped it, pulling a ground ball left about 80 yards. I declared a Mulligan. I re teed. Well into the trees. Ironically, could not find the 80 yard grounder, but the tree one I found. Sand Wedge back onto the fairway...except short, so in the rough. Chip to fringe, putt from fringe, then 1 putt. Bogey.

Hole 14 A 501 yard par 5. I crushed my drive, clearing the water. Then I hit my 7 wood, pin high but right. Chipped on to about 6'. Missed the birdie, got the PAR.

Hole 15 7 Wood, slightly teed. Went too far right and short. 160 yards out, pulled out my 5 iron. Splash in the lake I thought was past the hole. Drop. Aimed left, waited for wind to die, which was pretty strong by now, 5 iron aimed left...thought it was water again. Upset, pulled my 8 iron, powered it up, landed about 4' short on the fringe. Went to see if I could recover either ball. The first one was gone, but did find my second. Chip was nice, putt lipped out, so a 2 putt a 7. Another big number. Ouch.

Hole 16 The tee box was moved back, making it a 425 yard par 5. With the wind, I teed lower and crushed the drive. Unfortunately, I was playing it to slice so I powdered a tree. It bounced left into a marshy area. No problem, line of sight to the elevated green, 7 wood distance. And my 7 wood I hit so bad my divot ended up 45 degrees left of my line of sight, the shot went about 40 yards. Now 85 yards out. Gap wedge. BAM! Smack into a tree, bounced onto fairway about 45 yards away. Now, that means I SHOULD use my Sand Wedge, but I don't trust it. 8 iron, hit to the right fringe. Used putter, got close, 1 putt, saved a bogey. This hole could easily have been a big, big number, maybe even double digits but I kept my head, didn't get upset, and made something out of nothing. And had I aimed slightly right, missed those trees, I would have had a great shot at an Eagle because that drive was as hard hit as any I hit all day. See hole 18 for why that matters.

Hole 17 133 or 134 yards. The wind scared me. Teed my 8 Iron low to the ground. Moved the ball forward. Aimed about 20 yards right of the green. Skied the ball. Almost hit the 9th/18th hole tee box about 40 yards left of the green. Spectacular chip, about a 6' putt that rolled in. PAR.

Hole 18 I CRUSHED my drive. 284 yards. I walked it off. I then managed to watch my modified 8 iron roll over the green. And weakly chip. And my par putt lipped...hung...and rolled out. Bogey.
44 for the back. Not bad. 

An 87. I am ecstatic with that. A course I have never played before, Rated 67.4 with a slope of 107 (as if I know what those mean...)

Glendoverr, 10/25

Kyle and I had been wanting to golf together for a while, so off we headed to Glendoveer. 18 holes, walking. My goal for the day was to break 100, something I have never done for 18.

First hole is a short, 275 yard par 4 with an elevated green, sand short and right. I had a nice 240 yard drive, pitched on, 2 putt for par. Good start. Kyle went way right with his drive and struggled, finally taking a snowman. Ouch.

The second hole is also short, about 242 yards with sand in front and to both sides of the green. I had maybe a 200 yard drive, another pitch, 2 putts, par. Kyle also scored a par on this hole, which was cool. 

3 is a tight fairway with some fairway bunkers and to a dropped green that has blind areas in front. I went right unfortunately far, had a great approach, 2 putt, par. Kyle also scored a par.

#4 is a 154 yard par 3 that is just short and straight. We both chunked our tee shots, it took 2 to get on, 2 putts apiece, a couple of bogeys. At this point I am pumped. 1 over after 4 holes is great for me.

#5 is where it gets tough. Both sides have trees that make the fairway tight. It is only 268 yards, but you cannot stray too far. Well, Kyle pulled out his 3-wood and said, "I am going to bounce it off that tree and be in the fairway." And promptly hit the very tree he pointed at and bounced back into the fairway. So I pulled my shot left, it would have been great except there was exactly one branch I could hit...and I did which knocked 40 yards off my drive. I was still in the fairway. Pitch, putt, putt. Par, Kyle not so good.

Hole #6 is a 357 yard par 4 that is again very tight. I had a complete meltdown. Poor drive, weak second shot, I think 5 to get on and a 3 putt. Suddenly my great round had a snowman. Poor Kyle did little better, scoring a 7.

Hole #7 is 335 yards and even tighter. I sliced and was behind some trees, but had a bead on the left side of the green. I punched out onto the green, 2 putt, par.

Hole #8 is 346 yards with a soft bend left. I yanked my drive badly left into the trees, punched out, hit the green from there and 2 putted to save a bogey.

Hole #9 is a 424 yard par 5 with the green guarded both sides by sand. Again I pulled left. My second shot I played my 7 wood and blasted it, a great shot that gave me a good look at the green. Unfortunately, my chip was short so I had to chip again, then 2 putted for a bogey to close the front out with a 43, including 5 pars, 3 bogeys, and the one quadruple bogey. 

I am pretty proud of that 43 as Glendoveer is a tough course for me and by hole 7 I was starting to feel fatigue as evidenced by my driver deserting me.

Meanwhile, Kyle shot a mighty fine 48 with 3 pars (including hole 9), 3 bogeys, a double, a triple, and a quadruple bogey.

#10 is only 265 with fairway sand right where you want to land. Before we could tee off, 2 guys asked if they could join us. We wanted to say no but couldn't. I do not play well with others. *sigh* I sliced, punched back into the fairway, chipped close, chipped to about 2 feet and 1-putted for a bogey. Kyle also bogeyed. 

#11 is a 372 yard par 4 with sand guarding both front sides of the green. Again Kyle and I both took bogeys. 

#12 is a 112 yard par 3 with water in front of the green. I hit just short of the green and it rolled back towards the pond but stayed just above the ater. Unfortunately, it was in front of a clump of grass and I had no footing. I decided to give a pretty good pop to the grass and overshot the green, which was tough because it is a pretty large green. A good chip left me about a 5' putt which I drained for a bogey. 

#13 is a 308 yard par 4 closely guarded by trees on both sides with sand in front of the green. My drive was not good...right and behind the trees. I tried to punch under the trees and over the sand...but hit the tree and bounced back into the sand. The sand for a different hole...well, I chipped out of the sand to about 5' from the cup and one-putt for par. 

#14 is a 340 yard down hill with trees both sides. I ripped my drive but far right. I still had a clear look at the green from about 136 yards out. But I shanked my 8 iron and ended up in some trees right of the green with a tiny window to the green which lay downhill with some rough ground between me and it and a sharp drop that made part of it blind. So I took a short swing with my 8 iron and landed about 2' from the cup and tapped in for par.

#15 is a457 yard slight left bend par 5. I scrabbled back from going way right to somehow reach the green in 3 and 2 putt for another par. I was on fire for me.

The next hole, #16 is only 383 yards but still a par 5.  I pulled my drive left. It was a ground ball we though went maybe fifty yards. Turned out to be about 150, crushed a 7 wood from a sidehill uphill lie to a blind fairway, 136 yards and was looking at an uphill shot with sand traps flanking both sides of the green.  8 Iron left me with a 10' downhill putt which skittered a good 6' past the hole. I managed to hit that to save par.

#17 climbs sharply, playing as 341 par 4 uphill. I hammed a 280 yard drive down the middle. Pulled out my gap wedge for the first time all day. Perfect choice, it landed pin high...but bounced way up the hill. I was maybe 15' from the cup and tried to hit a 3 foot putt. Ended up 10' below the cup it was that steep and that fast. My come back putt died on the lip and I went from a birdie attempt to a bogey. Aggh!

#18 is a 144 yard par 3 with sand in front on both sides and a warning; don't go above the flag as this one is badly slanted to the front. I promptly shanked my 8 iron about 5' above the pin and 30 yards right of the green, easily one of my 3 or 4 worst shots of the day. I had sand between me and the green and electrical wires in the way. Boo! Sand Wedge...straight into the sand. Blasted out of the sand to the far side of the oversize green. My putt coming back I aimed about 10' above the hole, laying about 25' to the side. And my putt HIT the hole! but rolled about 6' below it. I yipped that and finished with a 6. 

Still, with no big numbers on the back, I was only one shot worse, a 44. I had 3 pars, 5 bogeys, and the triple. So I shot bogey golf on the back which I am ecstatic about.

For the day I shot an 87. To be honest, there was one putt I joked around with and missed so I took 1 mulligan on the front. Other than that, completely legit score. An EIGHT-SEVEN!

I am pretty jacked about that. Kyle also played well, shooting a 45 on the back, or 2 shots better than the front to finish with a 93. For two hackers, that is outstanding. On 8 holes, or almost half, I had pars. I cannot tell you how happy I am with my round.

West Killarney

Went to West Killarney with 3 guys from work. John likes best ball and likes to win. Bill, by his own admission, is not very good. Dave and I shot about even last week. I don't care too much about winning, particularly best ball format, which I don't care too much for, so I said, "Me and Bill will make a team." This made John happy as he looked forward to an easy win.

First hole is a dog leg left. About a 180 yard drive gets you to the corner, 200 yards puts you behind a tree so you really need to be accurate. John hit a gorgeous drive, Bill faded right, Dave chunked badly, and I whipped out my 7 wood. And topped it, maybe 140 yards. Terrible...but Bill was behind a tree so we played mine. We went back and forth...took us 4 shots to get on the green and then we 2 putted. Played 3 of Bill's shots and 3 of mine. Dave and John took a 5 so we were down one. 

Hole 2 is another "target golf" thing...maybe 160 yards to get past a tree, 190 yards means you might be out of bounds. Short right is trees and canyon. Both Dave and John hit gorgeous, near perfect drives. Bill had a playable drive but to the green blind. I mis-hit my 5 iron, it never got higher than knee level and sliced...fortunately, that meant it was a perfect shot. Unfortunately, I then topped my 9 iron and it went maybe 5 yards? Brutal. Fortunately, Bill put us close to the green. We then both chipped over the green. Our chip back on was okay, we 2 putted. Again, 3 of my shots, 3 of Bill's, Dave and John again had a 5 so we were down 2 after 2. About right.

Hole 3 is a 95 yard par 3. Bill chunked it way short and right. I took a half swing with my 8 iron. However, I crushed it. We thought it was OB so we played Bill's. I then blasted my ball to who knows where. When we went to play his second we found my first. So we played that. I managed to get mine on the green. We played one of my putts and one of his. Dave & John also had a 4.

Next hole is a long par 4 that is tree lined on both sides. Bill hammered out a nice drive as did John. I tried my driver but was still using the new uni-height tees. Sky-ball slice. Brutal. 7 wood went nowhere, Bill had a nice hit if a bit right. We played my chip to the green and his putts. Another bogey, as did Dave & John. 

At this point I was extremely frustrated. I was trying to play relaxed, smart golf. I was underswinging, going with soft swings, and so forth. And I was chunk-chunk-chunking my shots. I took a ball I had found and baseballed it into the woods with my putter, went over and sat at the next tee bench.

The next hole is  the first par 5, about 475 yards. Bill hit a short shot, John hit a long one, Dave hit short, and as I got ready to swing, Bill said, "Drew is ready to unleash a legendary drive...of F-bombs."  I tried my driver with a normal tee. And CRUSHED it. It was about a 270 yard drive and right center of the fairway. I then blasted my 7 wood pin high. They reached the front fring in 3 and we were still farther then them after 2. Then John chipped to about 6" from the cup. I chipped to about 8', we 2 putted. We played 5 of my shots and got the par. Unfortunately, John's chip meant we were still down 2. 

The next hole is a 360 yard par 4 with trees tight to the fairway on both sides. John hammered a nice drive, Bill and Dave both sliced short and bad, and then I stepped up. I had to avoid the tree that inhibits a skied driver on the right so I aimed left. Again I absolutely crushed it. It blasted loose a small branch  and still landed dead center in the fairway 90 yards from the green. Bill chipped short and left, I chipped pin high and right. We took mine, I rolled onto the green and close, we 1 putted for a par. Unfortunately, John rolled in about a 20' putt. Again the stroke we thought we were going to get back was ripped from us.

Next hole was a 135 yard par 3. John landed on the green. Bill went OB past the green. Dave landed on the green. I always struggle on this hole, but this time I hit the deep left corner of the green. Both Bill and I got close with our putts but mine was slightly closer and I holed it for the par. So did Dave & John.  3 straight pars for both partnerships.

Hole 8 is a short par 5, about 475 yards. It makes up for the length by having trees even tighter to both sides of the fairway. Bill hit very short, Dave was off in the woods to the right and John hammered a nice drive into the center of the fairway. So again I demolished my drive, long and straight. We were laying about 160 yards off the green. Over a 300 yard drive and center of the fairway!  Unfortunately, both Bill and I went right but I was about pin high so we took mine. I chipped onto the green and their third shot was long. They chipped on and were laying 4. They 2 putted. I had about a 7' putt with a left bend for the birdie that would tie us. John actually laid his putter in front of the hole. When the antics were over I put the putt on the lip; 1 more rotation and it would have fallen. So I tapped it for my 4th consecutive par, all of which were exclusively my shots. I was playing awesome.

We were now only down 1 with 1 hole to go, a very tough dogleg left par 4. Bill went first. He sliced badly and hit a tree about 40 yards down and right. John stepped up and hit a great drive that looked like it made the corner and was a great, great shot. I pulled out a 3 iron, trying to get past the corner without driving the road as I usually do here. Instead I shanked it shorter than Bill's and further right. Horrible. John and Dave were counting up how many strokes they would pick up. So then Bill overdrove the fairway and went OB against the road. I decided to try my 7W over the trees, over the water, over hole 5 to the green. Instead I caught mud and a branch, hit a low overhanging branch with the ball, and ended up about 40 yards from the green...short of the pond...behind trees. Sadly...that was better than Bill's shot. I ripped out my sand wedge, took a stout swing, the ball flew over the trees and pond and landed on the green about 6' from the cup. It was an outstanding shot. Dave hit a tree and ended up further from the green. John sliced behind a tree. For whatever reason they took Johns even with no view of the flag. Neither of them reached the green. Then they both chipped to the far back side of the green. They were laying 3, so were we. Their next putt barely got closer than ours. If we made our putt we would win outright. We both missed by inches so we took a 5. John yipped so it came down to Dave...who hit the lip and it rolled in for the tie.

Still, Bill and I should have gotten KILLED. We played only 12 of Bills shots. We shot a 43, 7 over. So I actually played really well once we got past the 4th hole. I played the next 4 holes alone and then we matched well on 9. 

I ended up having a good time despite the rough first 4 holes. A good finish to the year.


Three Rivers Golf Course

I knew Dave's wife was at a lace convention and the Goose was studying so he and I headed off to Longview. Unfortunately, there was a slight flaw in the directions I got from Googlemaps...namely, they said to take an exit that...well...doesn't exist. So we did the tour de Longview and ended up driving the length of the town. Like 3 times. So I was a bit frustrated by the time we got there.

Fortunately, there were very, very few people at the course. We basically paid and walked up to the tee. It is a long par 5 where the tee shot needs to be blasted to get up the hill to a blind fairway. Since Dave was taking his new clubs for the maiden tour I had him rip first.

He promptly sliced approximately 100 yards right of the fairway into some trees well short of the top of the hill. Now, I had just purchased some new tees. I habitually tee the ball too low. I also prefer to tee off with my 7 wood with which I do not use a tee. However, recently I read a couple books that pointed out doing this was a disadvantage to myself and even some of the best ball-strikers in history teed up every change they could because it was an easier shot. Taking this to heart, I decided to tee up every drive. I also bought tees that are universal in height...when you use them, you will always tee up the same height, it is impossible to do otherwise. And it is significantly higher than I have ever teed up before.

So I promptly made Dave's drive look spectacular; I might have hit it on the hosel, my hit was that bad. It was shorter than Dave's and further right.

My second shot, I decided to play "smart golf" and just hit it back onto the fairway so I could then use my beloved Fairway wood. Unfortunately, I did not hit it quite hard enough and left myself in the rough. And it was rough. My beloved 7 wood turned in my hands and I pulled it well left. And now had to contend with tree branches behind and above me. So I botched that shot. Well, Dave ended the hole with a snowman...and I snuck into double figures! Ouch. I had not put a 10 on the scorecard in years. Not an auspicious beginning.

Hole 2 is a par 4 with a slight bend left. Dave hammered his drive. Unfortunately, he had lined up so far left to compensate for his drive that he went way left...directly into trees. I crushed my drive (for me). 248 yards, just right of the fairway. My second shot landed on the right side of the green. A nice lag putt left me a 6' which I thought was in but left about 2" from the hole. I took a 5, not bad, but I wanted that par! Meanwhile, Dave had taken an adventure and took a snowman so I actually had a 1 stroke lead...

Next up was a par 3. I shanked my 8 iron. Not a good sign as that is typically one of my 2 best clubs. I rely so heavily on my 8 iron and 7 wood that those 2 clubs need regripped...but no other club is even worn yet. When it deserts me I am in trouble.

Instead of wisely chipping with my 8 I decided to hit my sand wedge. I have been experimenting with it lately and like the flop shot. Unfortunately, I chunked it past the green. Now a chip from a sidehill lie with the ball under my feet barely reached the green. A quick 3 putt and my 6 to Dave's 4 meant he was back up 1.

The next hole I absolutely crushed my drive. Unfortunately, I had elected to play for the fade I often hit and by so aligning, was aimed about 4 - 5' left of the fairway about 200 yards out. Well...I went further than 200 yards, never faded or sliced, and landed behind a tree. A quick punch onto the fairway, an 8 iron to about 20' from the cup, and I missed the putt but about 6".

A bit later we both sliced our drives. I ended up in a fairway bunker. I used my 7 wood, picked it clean, and almost drove the green. Unfortunately, the word "almost" is the operative word. I was short, blocked by a tree. I punched out...and over the green. Another 6. The big numbers were piling up. Of course, Dave took a snowman, so I was back up 1...

We went back and forth until at one point he was up one. The hole is a sharp dog-leg right to an elevated and blind. Neither of us had any idea how far to the bend. I decided to unleash the driver and my overswing would cause a slice. This would, in theory, carry my somewhat up the hill. Unfortunately, I skied the ball. It probably went 250 yards. Of course, 242 of those yards were up in the did not even get to the ladies tees. I crushed my 7 wood but aimed poorly. Had I aimed better it would have been a great shot. As it was, it was about as far from a great shot as you could get. Once more I was blocked by a tree. I could punch it right of the hole, but out of bounds loomed. Or I could go OVER the out came the sand wedge. Took a good, hard swing, got over the tree, but left myself needing to fly a sand trap. Another sand wedge...except I skulled it. It bounced off the fence marking out of bounds. An 8 iron, my backswing hit the fence. Another snowman. It was UGLY.

By the final hole we had traded the lead 3 or 4 times and were tied. I promptly pulled my drive left. I hit a provisional and this time I just dropped a ball and ripped my 7 wood like I used to. It was a great drive, slightly left side of the fairway (which is what I wanted since it was a dogleg left hole) with an easy 160 yards to an open green. Found my first ball and it was about a foot out of bounds per the local rules so I took my second shot and was laying 3. Dave promptly chunked his second shot into the pond. So now we were both laying 3. I pulled out my 5 iron. Earlier on a 160 yard par 3 I had landed on the green with a 3/4 swing with it. So this time I went full swing. Yep, pulled it left. Dave landed on the green but it skittered into the sand. I overshot the green, he got on. A weak chip, a 2 his 3 putt. We tied.

For the day I rang up the highest 9 hole score I have had in probably 6 years, a 58. Only twice all day did I hit the green in regulation and both times left putts on the lip of the cup. It was horrific.

But it was also fun. Good time. And if I were smart and went back to teeing off with my 7 Wood I would easily be back in the 40s. We will see if I get smart. Don't count on it.


Lake Oswego Golf Course

Since I have only played "best ball" this year, I wanted to get in at least one round that was just me seeing what I could do. So I header over to the Stafford Road course for a quick 9. It is a short par 3 course. Happily, I did not get paired with anyone. Of course, in some ways that is bad; I tend to play too fast. If I slowed down I would play better more often than not.

First hole is maybe 136 yards. Went with the 8 iron. Usually I don't tee up on par 3s, but some recent reading has led me to believe that is a mistake that makes the game more difficult so tee it I did. And promptly hit a worm burner. Pulled it left but pin high. My chip was almost awesome as it rattled the flag pretty good and left me about a 6' putt which I promptly missed. Oh, well, an opening 4 ain't bad. If I can bogey most holes and maybe par a couple I will be happy.

Second hole is a slightly elevated tee box and maybe 119. Tried my 9 iron. Hit it short. Decent ship, but a horrific 3 putt. gave me a 5.

Third hole is 175 yards, slight left bend to a slightly elevated green. 5 iron. Started good but tailed at the end. I was on the green, though. But it was probably a 25' putt, nothing I really had a chance at. I rolled the ball about 5' past the cup and made that for a par. Sweet!

About this time I caught up to a threesome who was behind a foursome of high school girls who were playing slow so it gave me time to kick back and relax. It was a 119 yard tee from the top of the hill. I wanted to air it out so the ball would sit. I figured a teed up Gap wedge would be perfect. I will never know because I skulled it badly. Line-drived that sucker. It flew right over the green about 40 yards the other side and rolled behind a tree so I could not even see the flag. Grr. I punched out and managed to land on the right side of the green, leaving maybe a 15' putt which I promptly botched. Another 2-putt.

Hole 5 goes slightly uphill and is maybe 135. I thought a pitching wedge was right; I hit it 135, the hill was slight, and since I fly it essentially the entire distance, that is a good selection, right? Eh. 20 yards short (!) and slightly right. Decided to try a flop shot since at this point the green was somewhat elevated. And hit it maybe 10'. Brutal. Chip, putt, putt, putt a SIX! ouch.

Next hole is 119, sharp downhill. 9 iron. First time all day I hit almost exactly the shot I attempted. Nice, high arch, landed just left of the pin, looked like it rolled real close to the hole, left me about a 5' putt. It is the first shot I have ever hit where I thought I had a chance at a hole in one, I was pretty excited when the ball was rolling. Missed the birdie putt but got my par.

That was about it for good golf. Closed out with a 5 and then hole 9 was brutal. 175 yards uphill. Yanked my 5 iron right, tree, landed behind it. Punched out into the fairway. Chunked my chip maybe 6 yards. Awful. My next one wasn't much better. So 4 to get on and then a 3 putt. A SEVEN to finish off. 12 over the last 2 holes. I finished with a 43...

Overall I guess for not having played my own game tee to green at all this year and only once last year, that is not terrible. Not good, certainly...but not unbelievably bad. I definitely need to get my putting back. A couple 3 putts, and an unbelievable 4 putt were the difference between an acceptable (by my standards) round and a bad one. And 22% of the time I still got par. So I can definitely get my game back if I get to playing regularly.


Small game

People from work keep asking for a game to be put together and other people have asked for one as well so I put one together. Friday seemed to be the popular day requested so that is when I set it up...except I inadvertently put Saturday on the evite. So we ended up with just 5 people. Grr.

Emily was to my left, Roman to her left, Phil to his left, and Steve immediately to my right. I started out horribly. Every time I flopped top pair, someone else flopped something better. For example, I checked my option with A/8. Flop came 5/7/8. I raised, Phil re-raised. Turned out he had flopped a straight. 

We started with 10K and I was down to maybe 7K when I pulled pocket kings. With blinds of 50/100 I picked up pocket Kings. I raised to 400, Emily called. Flop was A/Q/something small. I raised, she called very quickly. I put her on the Ace and checked when the turn brought a blank. Surprisingly, she checked as well.  The river was a 9 and she bet out. Since I had put her on the Ace there was no way I could call but I really agonized over it. Finally I folded face up...and she flipped up pocket 9s. Right fold, wrong cards I thought she had. But it was several more chips, too...

Finally I got down to about 4200. Picked up a hand, doubled up through Steve. Slowly started to rebuild my stack. Slowly but surely I built a lead and soon I had over half the chips in play...but not on any memorable hands. Just kept picking up blinds and small pots. 

Got down to 3 way between Roman, Emily & I. Roman was first to fall and then it was heads up. But Emily only had 3K, I had about was just a matter of time. Finally we got all in pre-flop with my a/3 against her K/4. I hit a meaningless 3 and took it down.


THe Goose's inaugral round

So lately the Goose has expressed some interest in learning how to golf. A week or two ago a few of us...okay, 12...went to a kind of "joke" course where I showed her the basics of a golf swing.

When I say joke course...the fairways are harder to hit out of than the deep rough on real golf courses. The rule is to "sweep the green when you are finished putting" because the "greens" are...well...sand.

Still, she learned the basics of the swing and how to hit the ball. So we went to a short Par 3. As in 1113 total yards for 18 holes. REAL short. The longest hole was 82 yards. But that is okay...she does not hit it real far yet.
I, on the other hand, do. I played the entire course never needing a club longer than a soft gap wedge and most of it was my sand wedge, a club I will hit anywhere from about 50 yards on in. I was mostly trying to put a new shot in my bag, a flop shot.
As you can see, even by the second hole her swing is still a bit stiff. We are working on that. The first hole was about what you would expect. 64 yards, straight, sand to the left. I was on in one, 2 putted for a par. She reached in 3 and 3 putted.
Her putting instruction was not extensive: "You have played mini-golf, right?"


"Just do the same thing here. Don't worry about reading greens or anything like that, just roll the ball to the hole." I have to admit, for her being a new golfer...that actually worked pretty well. For an executive course it had some interesting greens, including one that had better than a foot of left to right break on maybe a 10 foot putt. That I did not expect...
Anyhow, the second hole was more of the same. I reached in one, 2 putted for par, she reached in 3 and 3-putted.
On the third hole, I reached in 2 and 1-putted while she reached in 2 and 3 putted.
And so it went; she had 5 6s, 2 7s, an 8 and a 5 going out, I had 6 3s, a 4, 5, and 6. Yes, on hole 8 I really struggled.
I tried to flop a pitching wedge. It did not go well...and proving sometimes I don't learn from my errors, I tried a flop shot with my sand wedge. So it took me three to get on the green. And I was at the wrong end. I wimped on my first putt, leaving an 8 - 10 footer...and here is where the break came. So I 3 putted. Meanwhile, the Goose was on in 3, then 3 it took her all of 8 holes into her golfing career to match my score on a hole.
Anyhow, I shot a 33 going out to her 57.
On hole 10 she actually accomplished another first. She overdrove a 56 yard green. She discovered she did not need to be afraid of taking a full swing. She still ended up taking a 6, but now she knew she had more power than she had thought.
Hole 11 was a 54 yarder. Her drive landed on the green. She 2 putted for her first par! (and the second time her score equaled mine...)
I am still super proud of that, even though it was a short course; getting up and down in 3 on your first time on a course, even a short course, is something I find impressive.
As golfers will, she promptly regressed and took a 7, but still...
Hole 14 was my only birdie of the day as I was on in one and drained a nice little 10 footer that broke right to left. It was a pretty good read on that hole.
She also impressed on the 17th hole. She hit into a sand trap and, given the choice of hitting out of the sand or me tossing the ball out of the sand for her to hit, she hit out of the sand. And did pretty well, I might add.
She improved 7 shots on the back 9, touching up a 57 while I stayed the same at 33 coming in.
I am super excited she has taken up the game. I am also excited she is showing so much improvement so quickly.

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How You Doin?

I am an "emergency" sub this year. Game 1 was rained out. Game 2, they needed me so off I went. Tried out my shoulder...actually able to put a good swing on it. Cool. He put me at short. Top of the first I came up with 2 outs and Nick on 1st. I cracked it right up the for a solid double but the next batter got out.

Bottom half of the inning I had one chance, a ball hit softly to my left which I gloved cleanly but it was hit too softly and my throw was late. It was a tough throw as by now I was left of second base and had to throw back across my body, but it was accurate.

A couple batters later I dove for a ball to my right but it was out of reach.

Next time at bat there were 2 on and again I went straight up the middle, this time for a triple. Made 2 more of those plays scrambling left and throwing back across my body. Made both plays.

Next at bat there were runners on first and third. I rained it off the fence in right center and had another triple. Came up a second time in the inning, this time I hit it well but slow runners on first and second held me to a single.

Bottom half of the inning, runners on first and second, I knew where the girl was going to hit it. She did. I went to pick up the ball, step on second and throw to first for the inning ending double -play...and just didn't pick up the ball. Next batter grounded the same place but faster, this time I stepped on the bag but the throw was a hair late. No problem, made the next play as well, another slow roller to my left, throw from behind second and made the out.

Came up with 2 on. Got my pitch, put it down the right field line and strolled around for the home run. I had my cycle!

We made the plays in the bottom half of the inning with Larianne making a nice catch in left to end the game. Sadly, we crushed them (the Jolly Rocks) something like 19-3 or some such score.

On the bright side, I made about 10 plays and only missed 1. My hitting was back. One of the reasons I was more or less planning to quit is I felt like I was just hurting the team every game with my inability to field, throw or hit. It was nice being a solid contributor again.

Starving Crazed Weasels, August

Nice turnout of 12 or 13 people. Tough night.

Flopped top pair, Kings, with Jack kicker. Bet it. People stuck to river, hit an Ace on the river.
Flopped top pair, 10s. Bet it. River was an Ace. He had A/K.
Flopped 2 pair. Bet them. Someone stuck to river, hit inside straight.

Bet pocket 10s, pocket 9s, and A/J, all of which people folded.
Emily was real low, I had K/J to her K/9, she was all in. Hit the 9 on the river.
Now I was low.

Had K/Q suited, she was all-in again, Kevin and Tim both called. So many chips in the pot I took my shot. Lost on the river.

Now I had 300. Pocket9s. All-in. Kevin called with J/3. I doubled up.

Blinds raised to 50/100. By now I had 450. I was UTG, 6 players. Picked up A/3. Next hand I would be in the blinds, people had folded to my raises...all-in. Emily called. Eric called. Tim called. I am screwed.

Flop was like K/4/3. I had a pair and backdoor straight. Never hit anything. Eric bet all the way, Tim and Emily called. But Eric and Tim had nothing. Emily had Pocket Queens.

Just never got it going. Could not bet people off when I had the better hand and the river crushed me. Played well, made no difference. Sigh.



Played some best ball. Dave and I against John and Jim.

Last time we played I teamed with John. He is not a particularly long hitter but he is accurate. He often struggles to chip when a hazard is in front of him such as a sand trap or water but otherwise he will get you on the green in 2 - 3 shots on par 4s.

Dave is similar to me. He will typically fade or slice his drive but plays for it and hits a lot of fairways. His chips are generally accurate and his putts are very solid. He is probably a bogey golfer or so, maybe 1 or 2 shots worse over 9 holes.

I am getting my game back, but for now I have very little control over my driver, my mid-irons are shaky, but my chipping is pretty good.

I have not played with Jim for years but he tends to have titanic drives but then breaks down in the short game.

So Jim would provide the drives, John the mid-range game and they would split putting duties. Dave and I would split it all, we are very similar golfers.

My first shot was just humiliating. I almost completely whiffed and dribbled the ball about 10 yards. They insisted I re hit and this time I put it about 200 yards down the fairway, though it did fade to the right. My iron shot went left and Dave floated to the green, we played one of his putts and one of mine to par the hole. Meanwhile, Jim had a titanic drive but pulled it left. John was short but in the fairway. They hit the green and 2 putted.

2nd hole is a par 3. John hit short but center of fairway, Dave pulled it into the trees though it was bending back into play. Jim over drove the green and almost into the street. All I had to do was drop in on the green and we would pick up a shot or 2. My shot started good but then sliced like a mother and we ended up playing Dave's shot. I hit a nice punch shot that gave us a make able putt. Somehow we both missed and bogeyed, as did the Double Js.

Third hole, my drive was long but further right. If we were not playing best ball I would have liked it but Dave was almost center of fairway though slightly behind a tree. Dave hit the fringe a bit short, so I decided to try a miracle shot and go over the tree. Unfortunately I way over drove the green. I made up for it by flopping a shot about 3 feet from the pin, Dave putted in for par.

At this point I was feeling a bit bad. We had played 5 of my shots...out of 12. I was only 1 off the pace but did not feel like I was holding up my end.

Starting on hole 4 that changed. I blasted my drive long and on the right side of the fairway. We were about 135 yards from the hole with an uphill hit over a sand trap. I pulled my shot into the OTHER sand trap and Dave skulled his shot. So we would play from the sand. And when we got there the ball was totally plugged....buried. And we had to go the long way across a big green. Dave suggested I move it but I wanted to try the shot. So I blasted the ball...and it was AWESOME. Just like you are supposed to, I kicked up sand onto the green, the ball exploded out onto the green to about 6 feet from the hole. My putt was terrible...but Dave hit it to save par and we picked up a stroke. It worked great...he had a poor drive, mid-iron and chip but saved us with a great putt. I had a poor middle iron and putt...but they worked.

Hole 5 goes over one water hole and then a wide fairway that has water in front of the hole, sand to the side and behind. I demolished the ball, long and to the right side of the fairway. John was medium distance and dead center in the fairway while Woody (Jim) just destroyed his ball. We later found it and had it been straight he might have driven the green. Well, from 115 yards out Dave launched his ball over the green. With water in front...what to do. I sort of did a modified pitching wedge...and it was GORGEOUS, landing about 8 feet from the cup. My birdie put missed by about 6" and Dave was about the same. We parred the hole

Hole 6 is a long par 4 with a slight dogleg right. Again I unleashed and for the first time in any one's memory, someone out drove Jim...I drove it maybe 250, landing inside 30 yards. A nice sand wedge shot gave us a make able birdie putt...and we THREE PUTTED. Awful putting display. Mine was so bad it was embarrassing. Drive, chip, good. Putt? I suck.

Hole 7 is a short par 3, I think 118 yards. For the first time all day I ripped out my 9 iron. Unfortunately., the sun was right in my eyes. I could not even see the green. I decided to "trust my club" but pulled it left. Dave then hit a great shot that gave us another 6 - 8' birdie put. Yeah, we missed it. That was all Dave's hole, though.

Hole 8 we ended up on the green in 2 thanks to another fine drive I had and good chip but a 4 putt...yes, I said 4...put us 3 over par.

The 9th hole is a par 3 over water to an uphill green. Dave and I both landed on the green. Again my putt was just embarrassing...way off line, way off distance. Dave had a nice putt to get us close and we parred again to finish 3 over, 3 or 4 shots ahead of Jim and John.

Overall I would say my drives were probably about a B for me, my mid irons maybe a C, my short chips a solid B or even an A, and my putting an F. Fortunately, Dave picked me up when I was struggling and vice versa. We meshed well, it was a fun day.



Was asked to be a replacement in a charity golf tournament. Have only gone once this year and that was with a foursome where we had 2 teams each playing best ball. Fair enough, just don't expect much from me.

First hole we play has a sign, "217 yards to end of fairway". No problem, I rip out my beloved 7 Wood and promptly overdrive the end of it, which I could not see at the time because it was a drop away area. Anyhow, we played that one and my second shot as well, which I put a ways out there. In fact, on that hole we played 3 of my shots so I was feeling good.

We played par golf for the first 3 holes, then a bogey when none of us could hit the green on a par 5. That would prove to be a trend.

It was on our 8th hole it all went wrong. By then I was already starting to feel fatigue. We put together 4 pathetic drives. The BEST of the 4 was maybe a 150 yard "blast" that landed in a fairway bunker. Out of the bunker, 3 of us hit about 30 yards each and one guy somehow cranked it up to about pin high...but on a downhill lie looking over a sand trap to a green that fell away from us. We just shook our heads...this was a shot none of us was capable.

I laughed. "Don't worry, I got this. I am going to hit a sand wedge flop shot that will bring rain, land about 3 feet the other side of the cup and back up to it." We all laughed because....well...I can't do any of that.

First off, I can't hit the sand wedge at all. Horrible club for me. I have no clue what yardage I hit, when I do pull it out I typically skull shots, and I can't hit a flop or put back spin on it.

So I promptly hit a shot that went about 100 yards straight up in the air, floated over, landed a little beyond the stick and backed up to about 4 feet from the cup to give us an easy par save. It was AWESOME. And unbelievable. That is NOT a shot I have in my bag.

Well, Dave was collecting the other balls and rolled one towards Jason...and it dropped. But we putted from mine. Easy put. Straight line, no break, make able distance. Oh, not make able for us...we all 4 yipped and bogeyed the hole.

It was a melt-down after that. My 7 Wood, which I NEVER struggle with suddenly I could not swing. I hit 40 yard drives with it where the divot out-flew the ball, sliced my driver like nobodies business...and everyone else was struggling too. We mixed pars and bogeys about equally.

On one hole I again over drove the fairway because I did not realize there was a chasm beyond the fairway. Jim was at the end of the fairway. Jim, Jason and Dave promptly all hit into that chasm which meant my chip into the sand trap short of the green was the best shot. "No problem," I said, "I have a sand wedge." We all laughed because we had seen my sand shot earlier. Except this time I hit it perfect, had the flying sand like you are supposed to and rolled it about 3 feet from the cup.

The next hole we took our one mulligan. It was a 136 yard par 3 that my beloved 8 iron...far and away my 2nd best club and one that I used to hit about 165 yards...was a good 20 yards short. Jim re-hit his drive and it ended up on the fringe about pin high. I rolled a bump and run to about 6" from the cup, Jim was about 10", Jason missed by a couple feet...and Dave holed out for a (cheap) birdie.

Next hole I broke out my driver for no apparent reason and crushed it (for me these days) about 260 yards. Unfortunately, that put us about 135 yards from the hole on an uphill side hill lie to a blind green with a tree overhanging it.

"No problem," I said, "I am going to blast my pitching wedge over the tree about 8" from the cup." We all laughed since I had hit my 9 iron short on a 120 yard shot a few holes previously. Clearly a Pitching Wedge was not going to carry 135 yards uphill. So I blasted the pitching wedge, it flew over the tree, we all lost sight of it. After everyone else hit, we rolled up the hill, my ball was pin high about a foot off the green in the fringe. Great shot.

That was about it for the great shots for me for the day.

We ended with a 7 over 79 for the day, not bad for 3 duffers and a guy who had not played in 6 years. We hit 2 illegitimate shots all day: we brought my first drive somewhat back from the OB per the "official" rules which was kind of cheesy and we took the mulligan. Otherwise it was totally legit.

I played surprisingly well even without having good control over my 7 wood or 8 iron...which are typically the 2 clubs I hit 80% of my shots with. I definitely felt like I held up my end. We used at least a half dozen of my drives, 8 or 10 chips, 5 or 6 I would say overall about 20 - 25 of my shots were used so I was right there with Dave and Jim. Jason had not played in about 6 years and we ended up using maybe 5 of his shots.

And we had fun so that was good. Good experience, glad I went.

Once more, with feeling

So after thinking my playing career was through, I spent a fair amount of time toying with the team video. I really wanted to make it top notch. A couple times I thought I had it where I wanted but after another viewing I would go back and make more tweaks. Finally I had something at least passable so I took it to the playoff game along with a disc of pictures to give JJ. I was completely unprepared to play.

However...we did not have enough players. So I ran back to my car, grabbed my gear, and hustled back. The game was starting so I actually played the first inning in my work clothes and shoes...that is about as unprepared as you can get! No warmups or anything. Fortunately, I had no chances that first inning. Even more fortunately, by bringing me in at first, it moved Phil into the outfield and allowed Eric to shift over. This covered the gaps and turned a weak defensive alignment into a pretty good one. Phil made a couple catches that would have been hits and they either scored none or 1.

I was able to change into athletic pants, t-shirt and cleats while we were batting. We only had 1 bat at that point. My shoulder is still pretty messed up so I elected to bat left-handed since it hurts less. As it turns out...STUPID decision. See, the sun was directly in the eyes of anyone batting from the left side. I literally could not see the ball! So I made the third out of the inning leaving us a 2-0 lead. I guess they hadn't scored!

Defensively my first chance was not a great one. Steve made a terrific leaping catch and their runner was off first. I slipped behind him and Steve rifled his throw. Unfortunately, it was pretty far up the line. I hesitated, debating if I could make the spectacular play and lunged too late. Even if I started moving immediately I might not have gotten it but by hesitating I had no chance and it rocketed into the dugout.

Later I took a throw at first and their runner was advancing second to third. I tried to throw around JJ and it was my first throw of the day. Not a good combo. It was well off line and allowed them to score their first run.

It was still 2-1 when a bad inning rolled around. We missed maybe one or 2 opportunities but they would have been hit over Molly's head at second where she went back, Larianne came in, and it fell between them. If I were healthier, that is the type of ball I have always gone and snagged but it would have required a dive and no way was I doing that. Another couple dropped in front of Phil and Eric, nothing they SHOULD have caught, either would have been amazing to get to. Every ball found a hole. They built a 7-2 lead.

We came back a bit, picking up 4 to pull within 7-6. I led off the next inning. For whatever reason, this team was on my nerves. When they had a guy walk with 2 outs, they made the girl walk behind him. On one play at home Kasey was right on top of the plate to receive a throw and they started to chew her out for it so I yelled at them she was where she should have been and backed them down. I was really irritable for some reason.

Anyhow, they had me irritated enough I thought, screw it, I am batting right handed and I am going to CRUSH it. They overcompensated on every batter. When I went up there left handed they had someone about 3 feet from the right field line and left field almost empty. Now they had one guy on the third base line and the furthest right they got was about right center. Anything down the line...which is where I typically hit when right handed...was at least a triple. Sadly, his pitching was horrible. One bounced in the middle of the plate and was called a strike which kind of surprised me since he called 2 others like that balls. I would have had to golf it. With a full count, the ball bounced in front of the plate and I had walked which meant a double. Larianne hit one that got into short right on the fly...they mishandled it so I took off for third. I thought I had the throw beat easily when someone yelled, "Down!" so I slid.


A) I had the throw beat. Badly.

B) That field is brutal.

C) I was too close to slide.

So I doubled up my leg so bad they thought I broke it. Actually, that part did not even hurt. But I did rip a new hole in my knee that bled through the pants in about 30 seconds, ripped a gash in my "good" elbow about 7" long, got a huge strawberry on my back and jarred my already bad shoulder. Grr.

But it was totally worth it because Larianne made it to second on the throw. I scored on JJ's hit and Larianne made it to third. And then...I changed character.

All year I was the most conservative base coach. I would throw up the stop sign anytime I thought there was even a remote chance they might be thrown out. This time? I sent everyone. And it mattered.

Larianne is not particularly fast but I sent her anyway on a Texas Leaguer. She is slow enough I usually wouldn't send her. Still don't know why I did, but doing so was huge. It wasn't so much that she was that she drew a throw that had a chance of getting her and got our runner to second. She was safe, we were on second...which meant when I sent the next runner, he scored as well. By the time I sent Eric from second...because they kept throwing home, usually with no chance...I knew it was a bad send but did it anyway. They made a great throw...and he was safe by a half-step. He had one foot across the line, it was that close. And it demoralized them. They started barking at each other. They stopped even trying to get the runner at home and just tried to keep our runners from getting to second.

The damage was done, though. We were now up 10-7 and they were reeling. They did not score again, we scored 3 more. And that is when Kyle arrived. I was hurting so I gladly gave way to him and spent the rest of the game on the bench.

So now I am crippled up even worse but it was worth it. I made a couple defensive plays, scored in my last Fall Ball for me. We will check back in next year and see how we feel.


Starving Crazed Weasels, July

Pretty decent turnout. At my table I had Cassie to my left, then Kevin, then Emily, then Robin, then Pete.

Cassie is a loose/passive. She calls too many hands pre-flop and then pretty much check calls to the river but she will fold if she hits nothing on the flop. Kevin is a tricky player. He plays a wide range of hands, will raise with little, call with anything from the nuts to a made hand, re-raise if he thinks you will fold...Emily plays different every time out. Lately she has been loose/passive but with looser calling standards than Cassie has. Tends to make to many calls because she doesn't believe the better...but calls with nothing herself. Robin is a tighter player who will raise with her good hands. Pete is a loose-aggressive player who makes a lot of moves. Me? I switch it up ever game.

Early on there were 3 limpers, I limped with 9/10 Diamonds knowing Cassie would check in the big blind. Flop came down 8/J/K, 2 diamonds. I raised, everyone folded.

Then I went card dead. For a long, long time. Nothing I could play. Kevin, Robin and Pete were taking turns raising. So I had to pick my place to make a move. Finally won a couple small pots. Picked up K/2 diamonds. Randomly called a raise from Kevin planning to steal. Someone else also called...I think it was Emily. Flop gave me a pair of Deuces and flush draw. I called another raise, Em also called. Turn was a blank. I called anyway. River gave me the flush. Kev raised, Em called...I though about re-raising but weakly called. My flush beat their straights...Em had the low end, Kevin the high end.

By now Emily was getting low. She had about 5 blinds was all. I picked up the Cowboys under the gun, raised 5 blinds. Em called, everyone else folded. The Cowboys held up and she was gone.

A while later with a limper I completed from the small blind. Cassie had yet to raise pre-flop so it seemed safe. Sure enough, she checked. I had K/2 again. Flop came K/Q/2, 2 clubs. I raised. Cassie came over the top all in, everyone else folded. Since her raise was only 200 over the 500 or so I had raised it was an easy call. She had 7/8 clubs, flush draw. It did not get there and I had put out my second person. Funny thing is...I was doing it with horrible cards. I was playing really poorly.

With an action oriented table like this with frequent raises I should not be playing K/2 type hands...yet I had done so twice. Now we moved Phillip over.

Phillip is good when he is patient but he tends to get bored so he plays a lot of questionable hands. But he seldom re-raises or raises into multiple limpers. Having him on my left is good.

Soon after I picked up Queens under the gun and raised. Kevin called. Paint maybe? Flop came K/J/10, 2 diamonds. I had a straight draw, backdoor flush draw and 2nd pair. I bet. He almost folded, then he said, "if it is worth playing, it is worth a bit more" and called. He is not the type who does the act thing so I doubted the King. Either Jack or a draw. Or both. Bet again on the turn. Same thing. On the river he checked again.

Now, I had watched him against Pete several times. When he thought he had the best hand he would check/call to the river, then bet. So when he checked here I was pretty sure I had him beat. I thought about putting him all in but decided that would seem desperate so I raised the same amount. He hesitantly called...and rolled over the K/Q. Ouch.

That took almost half my stack. Back to tight mode.

Shortly thereafter we combined to 1 table.

To my left was Eric. Easy to read. More on that later. To my right was Joe...he plays tight/passive. Kevin was to his right, then Kenneth, then Pete and finally...uh...someone.

Ken hit a couple nice hands and built a huge chip lead. Meanwhile, I was hovering between 3K and 4K. By now the blinds were 2/400. With 3K I have an M of just over 5. When it was folded to me, just 3 people left to act I pushed my last 3100 in. Eric folded and Pete...came over the top all in. Kenneth thought about it. I actually thought he would call...the chip loss would not hurt him and he could take out me and Pete, 2 of the more difficult players. But he folded. I flipped up my A/J and Pete flipped up...2/6? What? Well, he had not been paying attention and did not realize I had moved all in. I doubled up to 6800...ironically, the highest point I would get to all night.

Up and down, no real playable hands and now Kenneth was raising liberally. With 6800 and blinds now 3/600 I could not play much. Say he raised to 1800 or 2400, both reasonable and typical raises. I call the 2400. Now there is 4800 in the pot (minimum...more if the blinds involve neither of us) and I have 4400 left. I better be pretty sure I am beat to fold there...which means if I call I am really playing for all my chips. So if I enter a pot I am only doing so with a hand and I am going to push either pre-flop or on the flop. Pre-flop I will know Kenneth is committed so that means if I play a pot he is in my chips all go in on the flop. So I was playing really tight.

Got down to about 3K again and pushed with K/10 suited. Got called by 10/J and doubled up again.

Got down to 4 players. Almost called when Kenneth and Kevin got involved but then decided to wait for a heads up opportunity. Kev went out. Now it was me, Kenneth and Eric.

Ken was playing much looser than normal...raising with q/10 type things. He was playing really well. Eric was still playing tight. I had seen him play 3 hands: A/Q, A/K and A/8 suited.

Kenneth folded on the button. I planned to raise and steal the blinds. Just as a matter of course I glanced at my cards to mask what I was doing and reached for my chips. As I did, out of the corner of my eye I saw Eric glance at his cards. He straightened up and grabbed his chips. All of them.

Now, I had seen him straighten up before. He had a hand he planned to play. I had NEVER seen him grab all his chips. I had a 10/5 off suit. I said, "Well, I am going to fold since Eric has Aces." And by his jerk and upset face I knew I was right. He wanted to double up. I said it times, Eric is REALLY easy to read.

Of course, I thought I had more or less been on my game. Back at the first table there was a hand I laid down top pair when top pair was 10s and I thought Pete had Jacks or Queens. He later said it had been Jacks. I had a pretty good feel all night for what types of hands...made hands, draws, weak or strong...people had so it was not unusual for me.

Oh well. I just had no cards all night. Finally Ken took out Eric. By now he had almost 36K and I had just about 3. The first hand I picked up queens...and he folded the small blind. I doubled up once, then picked up J/9 suited, I had said up front I was going to play fast and push hard so I moved all in...and he called with A/K suited. He played really well and deserved the win for sure.

I played pretty well to get there with no cards most of the night and never getting over come in 2nd was pretty impressive.

And it was fun so there you go.

The last softball game

My shoulder was feeling about 75% and JJ really wanted me to play in the "Wacky Ball" tournament...not sure why, but he did. I would have been happy just filming...then, I will be an idiot and push it. I tested it out a bit before the game. I would be able to bat left-handed but no way could I swing right-handed. It just hurt too much.

The first game I just watched. It was a train wreck. We were demoralized when we went down 1-2-3-4 in the first and they dropped 7 on us. After that they were just toying with us. We got 2 runners to third but never pushed a run across.

Second game we played a team that had also gotten mercy ruled. We pushed across 2 runs in the top of the third. It felt like more. It should have been more. I do not know what happened. Anyhow, in the third inning, JJ put me in at shortstop. I have not played in a couple months and this was the 1-pitch inning.

First guy was a pretty good hitter. He had a couple warning track shots under his belt already and even when he batted with the mush ball he had put it past the "girl line' in the outfield. When you realize not one of us had gotten the mush ball out of the infield in the first 2 games...he had some power. And he then hit an absolute laser. Following the rule, "the ball finds the unprepared" it was straight at me. I mis-read the hop and had my glove flat on the ground. It came up and left a nice welt on my arm. Great, my first chance in almost 2 months and I botch it.

Two other grounders to my left I fielded cleanly and made throws to first. One was late and the other was a bit off line. Nick thought he should have caught it...maybe. It would have been a tough play.

So I was a bit down on myself. I probably should have made 2 of the 3 plays.

Next inning, with one out and running the bases in reverse I somewhat redeemed myself, picking off a hot grounder, stepping on the 2-1/2 base and firing to 3rd for a double play. Ironically, that would prove to be my last defensive play of the day and, quite possibly, my softball career.

We got mercy ruled again.

Last game, Becky singled and then Phil...hit into a double play. So 2 batters in we used our re-do. This time they still got Becky on a fielders choice but at least Phil was aboard. We ended up scoring him. It would be our only run of the game. In the bottom half of the inning their 3 run guy was on 2nd, someone else on first...they hit a flare down the right field line to score we used our defensive redo. Didn't matter...this was Emy's team, one we got 20 runned by when we had a much better team than the one playing today. They racked up about 9 runs that inning.

By the 4th inning they were ahead 15-1. And then they used their offensive redo. Whatever. Way to rub it in.

The upshot just was not fun to me. Did not enjoy the tournament, got sunburned, picked up a bruised fore-arm and aggravated my shoulder. I don't think I want to play anymore.


The Major

My first Major was at Pinehurst. I had only played it once with the Goose and it seemed like a pretty easy course. Of course, back then I had a pretty weak golfer not much better than the trash golfer this game makes you start out with. Now I have a power swinging monster who can reach a 600 yard green in 2 pretty regularly.

The first hole was tough. I got a little bit right, clocked a tree and was deep in the woods. I tried to chip out on the fairway and clocked another tree. My third shot looked good until I went lumberjack which brought it up short. I was pitching for par when I got to the green and 2-putted for a double bogey.

And did the same thing on hole 2. After 2 holes I was 4 over! That has not happened forever.

Well, I went to work. I straightened my drives. My irons got more consistent. A birdie here, a couple pars there, an Eagle, a the 9th hole I was even. Then I went nuts. The back 9 suited my swing perfectly. I ended the round with back to back Eagles to go 10 under and take a 4 stroke lead into day 2. By the end of day 2 I was up 10. I had a good round...but a couple guys had better. I really felt I knew the course, though. However, I had struggled once again on the first 2 holes, going 3 over par. That was tough. But I got even by about hole 6 or 7 and went on from there to get further under par.

The third round I had the best start so far...double bogey, bogey. Whatever. For whatever reason I cannot get left of the trees on either hole. By the end I was looking good...but a couple guys were making a move. I ended the day with a 6 stroke lead.

Championship Day for my first Major. Up 6. I tried something new on the first hole. I was in the fairway but very, very short. My second shot was beautiful, giving me a long-shot birdie. I adjusted my putt...and missed so badly I ended up with bogey. By hole 5 I had lost my entire lead as Woods came from nowhere. Now it was a battle. I would gain a lead of a stroke or 2, then lose it. And then on 15 I pulled a bogey while he hit a birdie. For the first time since day 1 I trailed with just 3 holes to play. I pulled out a miracle par on 16.

17 is a par 3. I was down 1 stroke. And I blasted looked hit the DROPPED IN! I had my 2nd Ace and this one was meaningful as it gave me a 1 shot lead on Tiger, who had finished, and on Oberhauser who had 1 hole to play. So to stay safe I needed a par for a possible win, probable tie.

And I birdied to win. It was awesome. A 2 stroke win made possible by my first tournament Ace.

Tiger Round

So in the Tiger Woods Challenge on the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 I struggled mightily with the Scotland course. I was not looking forward to playing it as a Tour event since I figured that would continue.

But I came out on fire. I hit a beautiful shot to Eagle the first hole. I birdied the second hole. I birdied the 3rd hole. I hit par on the 4th. By the 10th hole I was 10 under for the round. I ended at 14 under, setting my all time record of 58. I did not bogey a single hole. It was awesome.

For day 2 I came out expecting more of the same. But the wind had kicked up. Now my long drives found the rough. My second shots shot way left...not drifted, shot. I had one shot where I aimed 40 or 50 yards to the right of the green...and went O.B. to the left with a 60 yard window over there on a 108 yard shot.

After that I got smart and started using a lot of punch shots or at the very least changing the loft on my shots. And I fought my way to a sub-par round somehow, some way. It was tough but fun.

It was very challenging. I had gotten used to just unloading, powering up every shot as much as I could. Even when I missed the fairway it was not by much and I was so close to the green that recovery was no problem.

Now, however, I was hitting long rough, long second shots, bunkers...and even more importantly, tough putts. I had come to consider 30 foot putts routine because they were typically relatively straight. Now 20' were almost impossible and there were even a few 5' that...well, here is an example.

I had a 2 foot putt...and had to put it almost directly left instead of straight ahead. I put the minimum possible power into it. My next shot was from the rough 31 yards away, that is how far it rolled.

Under those conditions I was quite pleased to get under par.

2 more rounds like that and I eked out a 3 shot win.

Starving Crazed Weasels, June

This happened a few weeks ago so I am a bit hazy on it but more or less...

had 13 people so we split into tables of 7 & 6. At my table I had Cassie to my left, then Kevin, then Tim, then Kenneth. It was a pretty passive table early on. Twice I checked in the big blind with garbage hands and flopped 2 pair, took down nice pots both times. Gave a bunch of chips to Tim when I read him right but it didn't matter...I had A/K and bet pre-flop. He called. Flop was low, like 6/7/8. I read him for weak, raised, he called. Turn was a blank, I raised, he called. River was I think a Jack or something like that, he checked, I checked behind...and he had hit the jack. He had like K/J or something, I had him beat almost the whole way but he wouldn't go away.

Picked up pocket Kings, raised them, Kev called. Flop had an Ace, I raised, he called. I thought he might have an Ace but was not sure. Hit a King on the turn. Raised, he called. Raised on the river but it was a "keep him in" raise when I wanted to raise him all in. He called, he hit the King but my trips was better. Not putting him all in was a mistake.

Picked up K/10 early, raised it. Kenneth called from the big blind. I flopped top 2 pair. Raised. Kenneth called. I took a look at his stack. We were both committed. Either he would double up or I would bust him out. Turn was a Queen. River was a 9. Great, all he needs is a Jack to beat me...but we are both in so deep that the smaller bet I placed on the River to put him all-in had to be made. And he had to call...the river gave him 2 pair, Queens and 9s. He had called early on a gut shot so it ended up costing him.

The other table put out a couple people so I switched over to even it out. And quickly got a sense...there was one guy taking a ridiculous amount of time for every decision.

Now, there are times when I will take some time for a decision. Let's say in the hand with Kenneth the roles were reversed a bit. Let's say he had me covered and comfortably so. I flop top 2, raise, he calls. Turn is a Queen. Now there are some straights on the board as any A/J or 9/J completes it and I am now also losing to pocket Queens so there are several legit hands that beat me. I raise. If he re-raises me all in I am going to need some time. There are a lot of factors to consider:

How much is in the pot and what are the odds I have of re-drawing to beat him if I am behind? What hands could he make that play with? Is he playing his cards or is he playing me, did I somehow show weakness or fear of the straight?

So yeah, I will take some time. On the other hand, 3 people limp in, 2 people fold, and I look down at my cards I need 3 seconds to decide what to do. Not 3 minutes. To fold. Again. And again. And again. It slowed the game to a crawl and I started to tilt.

I had a great chip stack by now, clearly in the lead. Shortly thereafter we combined to 1 table of 8.

And Tim came over with a HUGE stack. He must have ran roughshod on them after I left. And he just kept rolling, taking out person after person.

I lost a large chunk when I raised pocket Queens, he called. Flop was Jack high. I raised, he called. Turn was a King, I raised, he called. River was a blank, he checked, I checked behind...and he had trip Jacks. He played them well. Only by making a river bet could he have gotten more but I was nervous anyway. This time I was reading strength.

Lost more chips when I had pocket Kings, raised all the way and on the river an Ace fell. He bet, I folded, he showed the A/4 he stayed in with. Bad play got good results.

Then got into a key hand. Phillip had been up & down and I had him about 2-1 in chips. He made a min raise, I called from the big blind with Joe and Tim also calling. I had J/9 suited. Flop was 9 high. I was first to act and raised the pot. Joe and Tim folded, Phillip called all-in. He flipped up J/10. Interesting call...assuming I had hit any part of the flop he was drawing to just 6 outs and I could easily have a bigger pair, bigger set, or even bigger cards. In other words, he could only beat a draw or a bluff.

Until we turned a 3. Ouch. Just like the Kings that lost to the River Ace I was a big favorite. We knew 7 cards. Of the 45 unknown there were 3 that helped him so I was a 15-1 favorite. Against the Aces I was an even more impressive favorite as he had just one shot at it. I lost 2 huge percentage plays.

And then came the crippling blow. Pocket Kings against pocket Queens and he rivered the third queen.

I went from threatening the chip lead to under 5K with 4/800 blinds in 3 hands where I lost to a 3 outer, a 3 outer and a 2 outer.

So when I picked up an A/8 clubs. Phillip had folded, Joe was short stack, Tim was big blind and had folded to lots of raises much smaller. I decided to steal the blinds and even if called an Ace high figured to be good 4 handed with 1 already folded.

And both Joe and Tim called...and Tim had A/Q. I couldn't hit my 3 outer and was out in 3rd.

I might have found a better place to get the chips in but I doubt it. With just the blinds to beat, Joe whom I had covered and Tim who had suddenly become tight I think it was the right move even if I had 2/7. It was still a meaningful raise and I needed chips. Plus, with the way our points are set up had I taken out Joe the benefit would have been well worthwhile. Oh, well.

Tiger 07 Redux

A few of my favorite moments

1) Matched up with Colin Montgomerie, 18th and last hole of regulation in stroke play in the Tiger Woods Challenge. We are tied. My third shot leaves me 59 feet from the pin. His 4th leaves him about 2 feet away. I need to 2-putt to send it to sudden death. The putt goes down, then up before curling back down. And...I nail it to win the match. I set a new record for longest putt. I advance.

2) About 9 holes after the Goose scores our first Ace I match her feat on the same course.

3) In a close match in Scotland I break it open when I drive a par 4 green off the tee and Eagle the hole.

4) I have a 104' putt that breaks both ways and is uphill...and pull up 6" off the cup. The best putt EVER.

5) Playing with the Goose on Riviera I real off 12 consecutive holes of birdie or better, though to be fair there were 2 mulligans in there.

6) just plain playing with the is great to find a game we both enjoy that plays well with 2 people.

Tiger Tour 07

Having grown older since the last time I discussed the X-Box (my birthday was held on an undisclosed day within the past fortnight moving from age to the advanced age of ....yes, I know, should I not now be past the time for playing video games? Smurf no! They still rock!, I should, in theory, have also grown wiser. The nature of the opening run on sentence which consists of one sentence interrupted multiple times including, but not limited to, a question mark and 2 exclamation points seems to indicate I have not.

Last Saturday we were at my brother's place and playing Playstation 3. Yeah, I am the only holdout. Both brothers, good friend Kevin, they are all PS3 guys. I am not. But we were playing Hot Shots Golf while the girls were doing whatever. The Goose thought it looked like fun so we decided to look for a copy on the X-box 360 which, of course, does not have it since it is Playstation exclusive. We elected to search for "a similar game".

I know they are out there. Polar Bear Golf has easy controls, shot-shaping ability, and a high fun factor. I have played various golf games over the years and, I must admit, enjoyed virtually all of them. Typically this is because they suit me.

I am not now, have not been, and am unlikely to become a hard-core gamer. I like my controls easy to learn, simple to use, and not overly complicated. I never cared for the fighting games, for example, where to pull off a special move "all you had to do" was push down-up-left-a-a-a-up-right trigger-left-b-a-b. Maybe down up...and if I recall correctly, on Mortal Combat I mastered Liu Kang's move which only required something like back-forward-a or some such simple combo. Be that as it may, it is therefore incumbent upon any game to have a short learning curve to maintain my interest.

For example, MLB2K7 was the first game I tried out. I wanted to like it. The controls were a bit complicated...I often found myself swinging while the pitcher was in the wind-up, for example...and I played an entire inning and thought I was doing well, striking out 2 of the batters looking...but then I discovered I had been BATTING. On the bright side, I got a hit in that half of the inning. On the dark side...I thought I was pitching and was batting.

Finally I figured out how to switch to "classic style" after about 8 15+ strike-out games. The learning curve was high and, for me, the fun factor was EXTREMELY low. So I stopped playing it in favor of Surf's Up and TMNT, games that are aimed at pre-teens...but that I truly enjoyed. Easy controls to learn and use...though I still am not terribly good at either of them because I am not very good at video games. At least I have beaten TMNT over a half dozen times...because it is very fun.

I also played Quake (4?) and was pretty successful...but for whatever reason only played it once. The looking up feature was troublesome but I could deal with was the puzzle nature that frustrated me. I just wanted to shoot stuff, not spend a half hour looking for something to shoot and finding nothing but corpses...but not being able to advance to another level.

And worse yet was Call of Duty 3. It was so frustrating that I took to shooting my commanding officer...during the tutorial. Which I never completed. And never picked up the game again.

Yet to show I am not COMPLETELY inept...I picked up NBA2K7 and mastered it...well, basically instantaneously. I won my first 3 games, dropped 1, won a couple more, dropped one, and have not lost since. The controls make sense. They are intuitive, easy to learn. Yet the game is still fun and challenging. Just the other night I hit a shot inside the last minute to take the lead for the first time in the game to run my season record to 35-0. Yeah, I am winning...but sometimes it is close and in this game I had to come back from a 20 point second quarter deficit.

Well, we went into a video game store and the only golf franchise they had was Tiger Woods PGA Tour series. They had 3 choices...06 was 10 bucks, 07 was 20, and 08 was 60. We settled on the 07, talked to the guy, explained the Hot Shots thing and he said, "oh, you might not like this one, the controls are really tough." Back on the shelf went the game, out the door we went.

At lunch I started thinking...Al has Tiger and seems to like it. A couple texts later and after lunch we went to a different game store, picked it up, and went home to play it.

The first game was frustrating. The menus were not easy to navigate and it took us about 10 minutes to set up a 2 player stroke play game. We both took Tiger so we should have had identical stats.

The Goose seemed to pick up the controls pretty easily. She was cranking out 250 - 280 yard drives. She Eagled like the 5th hole with a massive chip in. Meanwhile I was cranking out 100 yard, 140 yard drives and was all over the course. Later it turned out we had different editions of Tiger...she had his best version, I had his rookie version...but be that as it may, the game play was frustrating.

But I tried it again later. I went through the tutorials. It started to make sense. We both created golfers. I finished slightly ahead of her in the second game.

Then she had to work on school work. I was on vacation. I started working with my guy.

I won the first 2 matches in the Tiger Woods challenge but then ran into Annika Sorenstan. Again and again her 2nd shot would be in the rough, the bunker, etc...and mine would be on the green. So she would chip/pitch/flop to within 6" and par every.single.hole. And beat me.

I practiced. I played her again. I won the first three holes. And lost 4up on hole 15.

Well, then I discovered the Power Boost. I took a different path through the challenge. I began destroying people. My golfer got much, much better. Instead of maxing out at 244 yard drives he became capable of 250, then 260, 270...I could spin, add or subtract loft. My putting is nails.
There are really only 2 shots I cannot pull off...2 or 3, depending on how you count it. Draws and fades are train wrecks. I count that as one since they are the same shot, just pulling the stick left or right. Chipping is HORRIBLE. If I have an 8 yard chip I will either power up the putter for the long, long putt or power down a flop or pitch. I cannot master the chip.

I opened new courses. We played again. Since now my golfer was so much better than hers I gave her mass mulligans and took I think 3 per round. We tried TPC Sawgrass and Pinehurst.

The graphics, by the way, are awesome.

On Pinehurst, on I think the 5th hole she did it...she hit a hole in 1. Very nice. Then on the 15th or 16th, somewhere on the back 9, I hit my first Ace. She hits every major goal before me...well, not EVERY one. I DID drive a par 4 green in 1 with a monstrous 340+ yard corner cutting fade drive I pulled out of who knows where...turning a long 400+ yard hole into an eagle that missed being an ace by about a foot.

In short, I LOVE this game. Of the 20 matches to beat the Tiger challenge I have defeated 17 of the opponents. I even spend time in the pro shop kitting out my character. And, in a very shocking development for anyone who knows me, I am not min/maxing my guy. I wear a shirt that looks good but is not as helpful to my stats as others would be, I use a downgraded ball because I like how it looks...I even play the mini-games.

This game now competes with NBA2K7 and TMNT as my favorite games, games I will set aside time to play.

And when '08 becomes might find its way into my collection.



Being on vacation, I was close enough to go and since I did not make it out to St. Helens thought I might as well play. 12 players, divided into 2 tables.

To my left was Forrest, a decent player with some pretty easy to read tells. To my right was Bob, then Randy, a wild and horrific player who thinks chasing runner-runner draws is a smart play, to his right was Bill, a sometimes very good, sometimes very wild player, and the other player was...was...uh...someone.

Early on I was getting trash hand after trash hand. Two times in a row Bill dealt me 4/9 diamonds. Then he mixed it up with a 2 of diamonds, 9 of hearts.

The first hand I played I checked into the big blind with A/9 clubs. Flopped top pair and a flush draw. Called a bet with Randy also calling. Turn was a blank. Randy bet, the odds were right, I called. River completed my flush. I raised 1K into a pot of about 2K, Randy called and I took down a nice pot.

A while later I checked my option with 3/5 hearts. Flop gave me a flush draw. Bill raised the pot. The odds were wrong to call...but it felt weak. I called planning to take it away on the turn. But he raised again. Time to reconsider. This time I was getting better odds, I did not believe he had the flush draw...maybe top pair, maybe 2 pair, but no flush draw. My strict odds were not quite right but my implied odds were great. I called. And the river gave me the flush. He bet big, I called, he had 2 pair and I took down a nice pot with a crap hand.

Back to folding.

Pocket Kings, raised, no callers, flashed them to begin creating my image. Very next hand picked up pocket jacks. Raised, 3 callers. Flop was Q/10?Q. Ugly. Checked to me, I raised. Mary Kay, who by now had moved to our table after Forrest and the kid I had not played with before had busted out, hesitated, thought, and said, "OK, I see one more" and called.

Now, with some players, that means "shut it down, she is slow-playing trips." With Mary Kae that means, "I am on a draw and will see another card to see if I hit it." Everyone else folded. I bet the turn, she called, and the river was another blank, I bet, she folded. Very nice pot, I was up over double.

Didn't play another significant hand until the final table.

Now I had Barbara to my left: calling station, will call any bet with top pair or better, will chase draws whether it is statistically correct or not. To her left Bud. To his left an obnoxious guy whose name I don't know and I don't really have a feel for his playing style. To his left was...uh...someone, then Bill, then to my right Bob.

Picked up pocket kings, raised, couple callers, flop was blank, raised, turn gave me a set and I took someone out since he had K/J. By now Barbara had taken out 2 players and gone from short stack to chip lead.

Bill was coming over the top all in on me all night. Have to watch that.

Under the gun picked up 3/7 suited. I throw this away every time. However, I have been planning to choose a bluffing hand and decided this, my "superstitious hand" since it is our wedding anniversary, would be it. So I called planning to bluff on the turn if circumstances looked right. Flop gave 3 hearts. Checked around. Turn actually paired my 7. I decided to wait one more since Bill looked like he was thinking about raising. He checked. River was a blank, I bet, everyone folded.

I raised with pocket jacks, Bud re-raised his last few chips, an insignificant raise, I called. He had big slick. Flop gave me a Jack, turn was a Queen...if a 10 came I would lose the pot...but it was another Jack. Quads. Nice.

Raised big slick. Barbara called. I flopped top pair. Raised significant. She called. Repeated on turn and river, she had pocket 9s, took down huge pot. Similar play a hand or 2 later and now I was chip lead.

Not too much later took Barbara out, had commanding lead on Bob, played him soft since he was sort of on tilt. He wanted to go so we called it.

For the night I played very well. And, in a shocking turn of events...this time it paid off! I got in with the best of it time and again, my draws hit


Jax, 6/24

Since I was passing through downtown decided to stop off at Jax. I really like playing there; their trained dealers prevent the stupidity of slow-rolling, stuff like that and the players are better on average. You see a lot less plays like Randy with his chasing runner runner as a good play, less stuff like Boston John playing "drunken monkey poker"...though there are still a wide variety of plays including a guy famous for playing 3/4.

Starts with 10K in chips and blinds of 100/200.

27 players, 3 tables of 9. Nice. Nothing to play in the first 4 hands. 5th hand I was in the big blind. Several limpers, looked down at pocket 9s. Bumped it to 700 total, still got lots of callers. Dealer commented, "Wow, 6K in their" referring to the pot. Flop was nice...Q/7/4. I glanced at the pot and raised to 5K. If someone hit the Queen I was in trouble...but everyone folded. Nice pickup that added 60% to my stack just like that.

Went with the Doyle plan of playing the next hand. Called a small raise with q/9. Regretted it instantly...I just called a raise with a weak hand out of position. But then I got lucky...the flop was Q/9/5 rainbow. I flopped top pair and the only reasonable draw was someone holding 10/J. My first thought was to slow-play...but then I reevaluated. I wanted to create an image where people were nervous about being in a pot for me. I bet the pot. Everyone folded. Nice...

A few hands later I picked up pocket 9s again. Jacked it up 3x the blinds, a couple callers. Flop was all low, someone raised, I came over the top, everyone folded.

At this point I was very happy. I had more than doubled up without ever being at risk...AND WITHOUT SHOWING DOWN A HAND!

The guy 2 seats to my left had limped once and not played a hand past the flop when he did an under size raise. I was one off the button with j/10, not a great hand but with about 4 callers the odds were right. I went ahead and called. Flop came 10/9/6. The guy who raised it checked and it was checked to me. I raised. Initial raiser hesitated, then came over the top all in, everyone folded to me. Time to think.

My initial rating put him on A/10 or better and pockets down to about 6 or so. When he checked I narrowed his range a bit: high cards and afraid of someone having hit the flop or maybe a small pair. This reeked of a bluff but there was still an outside shot I was drawing real thin to Jacks or better. However, there were enough callers initially that I was getting a bit better than 3-1 so I called...and he flipped up Pocket 8s. I was way ahead but he had 6 outs (any 7 or the 2 8s) to I was a prohibitive 39-6 favorite or better than 6-1. Furthermore, the first time I showed my cards I showed people A) I was willing to gamble a bit, calling a raise with J/10 off and B) I was either reading people well to call him or else was a poor player who overvalued top pair...depending on their perception of me.

I won that hand. Now I was in control of the table and people did not want to get involved with me if they could help it. This let me pick up a few small pots, including one that I thought was brilliant.

I had been watching a guy for a while. When he had bottom or middle pair he would lead out with a small bet, a feeler bet. Nobody had challenged him. At one point he limped from the small blind. I thought about raising but elected to check. Flop came, he made one of his small raises, I re-raised him and he folded. I flipped up my irrelevant hand to show the bluff. That, in retrospect, was a mistake. I had a tell on him and may have cost myself chips later by showing a bluff. But on the other hand...I also showed people I did not need cards to win a hand.

After the break we condensed to 2 tables. A guy sat down to my right who had me out chipped but otherwise I was leading the table.

I folded a few hands, then utg+1 picked up A/Q. The guy to my right had limped so I jacked it 4 times the blinds. We were both deep stacks and I could take it down on the flop just by betting. A couple other people called, guy to my right folded. Flop was ugly, all low and diamond, with a raise, re-raise and call in front of me I folded.

A few hands later I checked from the big blind with a weak Q/8 off. Flop came ugly...Q/J/9, 2 diamonds. Guy to my right checked, I raised, everyone folded to him and he went into the tank. Then he started trying to get a reaction to me. I decided to throw off a few false tells by acting super strong...if he knows the tells. I looked pretty uninterested, let my attention wander...and waited until the third time he asked, "You have K/10 already?"

He had made a HUGE mistake. If he had just come over the top I would have folded. I had top pair, weak kicker on a draw heavy board. But after his talk and trying to draw me out I knew he was weak. If he just called I was raising big on the turn, if he raised I was moving all in. I finally engaged him in conversation.

"I might. Hard to say."
He had no clue how to respond and folded. When he did he inadvertently exposed the deuce of diamonds and I heard him telling someone he had "a real high one to go with it"...I assume the King or Ace. Anyhow, the hand was still being talked about several minuted later.

And here is where I stopped playing well. I had built a great table image...but now I tightened up. That was the first of the 3 mistakes that would hurt me.

The second came shortly when I raised UTG with Big Slick. 3 callers. Flop came Q/Q/9. Guy to my right...who had thought a long time before calling...checked. Every instinct I had said to raise. I meekly checked, essentially giving up on the hand. An old guy I had watched for a while went all in. Folded to the guy to my right who hesitated for a long time. I figured he had an under pair at worst but the 2 queens were just too much. He folded.

I had to think about it. I knew the old guy didn't have a Queen. I actually thought he might have hit the nine. I had watched him play and he was weak tight. He would bet once with middle pair, then hope to check it down. Going all in represented either strength or a stone cold bluff. Even if he had the 9 I was drawing thin to 6 outs. Folding was correct.

And for whatever reason, I looked at the guy to my right and said, "This is a HORRIBLE call"...and called. Old guy ended up having Pocket Jacks and they held up. And I was right...I was not getting the right odds to call, particularly when it turned out the guy to my right had also had big slick and someone else folded a third Ace. I was actually drawing to just 4 outs...

Anyhow, now I was down a bit. The very next hand the woman three seats to my right...who was short stacked...came over the top of a raiser and a caller to go all in. In the big blind I looked down at the Cowboys. I re-raised enough to commit anyone who called as I wanted to isolate her. It worked and I regained a good portion of what I had lost.

Then came the hand I didn't play. UTG the next round I limped with 6/7 suited. A guy who is regarded as one of the better players but whom had been unwilling to play with me. He is a guy I have played before...he was the guy on my left. Anyhow, he had been up and down a bit. Now he was down. After another limper, he raised all in. Guy to my right, as is his wont, hemmed and hawed for a while...and then called.

I desperately wanted to call. I had the chips to play with, though it would definitely cut into me about 40%, I was highly unlikely to be dominated...and I had the first guy read for being on a move. Still, I would be calling with 7 high...I REALLY wanted to call...but for whatever reason...I folded. And the guy was on a move with 3/4 and was against K/10 suited...same suit as my 6/7. Well...the guy paired his 4, I would have hit the straight, and the K/10 never hit anything.

From then I pretty much just got blinded until we collapsed to the final table. Once there I was middle of the pack in chips.

The table was a fast table with a lot of raising and re-raising. One guy took down a huge pot when he jacked pre-flop with pocket queens and flopped a full house. The very next hand he raised, the guy 3 seats to my right re-raised, the original guy raised again, guy to my right went all-in, and after thinking for a while got called. Guy to my right had pocket Jacks. Guy who flopped the boat? Pocket Queens. The Queens held up and guy to my right was crippled.

The next hand everyone limped to the small blind...who was the guy I had bluffed earlier. He limped, I had pocket jacks so raised, he re-raised, I checked the would about double me up now, I shoved, he called...with Aces. Oops. I was left with 1000 chips and blinds of 1/2K.

Now, here is where tournament strategy comes into play. If I care about the points (I don't) then I don't even look at my cards, I make the guy 3 seats to my right go through the blinds...he has 3K. On the other hand, if I want to see if I can make a comeback, I look for my best hand.

Best part is I now hit a hot streak. If I went all in the first hand I would have quadrupled up. The next hand (2/6 off) I would have flopped 2 pair. Then the tragic happened...I picked up Big Slick. It was the best hand I would get before being in the blinds, I called.

And the guy who had gone all-in with 3/4 called, among others, and flopped 2 pair. 3s and 4s. I was done.

I played really well early...I was aggressive, I played good cards strongly and when I did not have cards I played the players and picked up a couple pots I had no business winning. However, late I became passive, made 2 bad calls...I need to close out stronger.