Regular readers might have noticed I’ve not been playing in the World Amateur Handicap Championship for the last couple of years.
There’s a reason. I got tired of writing about my bad golf and my disqualifications.
Sure, it gave me great column fodder, but it left readers with two thoughts: This guy must be the worst golfer ever and a he’s a cheater to boot.
I have a defense.
It’s more fun to write about my golf, bad or whatever, than to write about Rory McIlroy’s near flawless rounds. Nothing but pars and birdies? Boring.
As for cheating, these were simple rules infractions anyone this side of Coastal Carolina alumnus Dustin Johnson could have made.
And if I were cheating, would I actually write about it in the newspaper? It would be like the director of the CIA having an illicit affair while he’s surrounded by spies. Who would do that?
Well, anyway, I have good news to report today.
After all these years I have finally won a golf tournament.
It didn’t actually have “world” in its title, but it was strictly amateur all the way.
It was, ta-dah, the annual Grand Strand Swingers Match Play Championship, featuring a near-record field of 32.
I hate to name names, but in the interest of responsible journalism let me say that my first two opponents were the lovely Lou Canestrino and the ever-aggressive Archer Williams.
Lou made Azalea Sands a fun round because of his faux complaints about my attitude and his threats to send the commissioner a list of my transgressions if I won. As they say in Cyberland, LOL to all that.
Archer owns a unique swing that even he says would fit inside a phone booth. Yet he plays amazingly well, except on this day not so much.
That brought me to Johnny Calhoun, a guy who illuminates an entire Sunset Beach neighborhood with his stunning Christmas lights display.
Calhoun is a 4-handicap golfer who found himself in a Brunswick County newspaper a while back for shooting his age of 60-something.
I’m playing to a 17 handicap, meaning he gave me strokes on 13 holes. Still, no one, including me, thought I could beat him.
We exchanged leads several times at The Tradition until, on No. 17, I rolled in a putt of about 20 feet to take a 1-up lead.
However, if he won No. 18 to force a tie, he would win the match. A tie would take us to the scorecard and he had already won the No. 1 handicap hole.
In the end it came down to two relatively short putts for net 4s.
When I missed my 6-footer, I waited to congratulate the winner. Johnny had a 4-foot putt and he doesn’t miss many of those.
Amazingly, his putt rolled quietly past the cup and suddenly I had won the toughest match of the tournament.
On to the finals, this time against Leroy Fromang at Crow Creek.
Leroy, a 12 handicapper, outplayed me tee to green, but his putter let him down.
He missed too many on Crow Creek’s speedy greens while I made most every one I had to make.
It spelled the difference and on the 16 hole, the match was over, 3 and 2.
So now I’ll be getting a swell little trophy with my name on it.
It’s not exactly the World Amateur Handicap Championship trophy, but it’ll sure look nice on my bookshelf.