Category Archives for "Stag Night"

Man Up, No Excuses

Man Up, No Excuses


Excuse; justification, apology; both imply an explanation of some failure or failing with a desire to avoid punishment or rebuke.

Golf can be a fickle game, which at times can drive us to the brink of despair, and we contemplate whether we have the strength to carry on, almost losing our will to live at times. Then it happens… a 30-yard pitch onto the 17th green finds the hole, and with that stroke, the world is back on its’ proper axis with the thrill of taking on all challengers running through our veins, at least that’s how it’s always been with me.

​It is at the low times in our struggles with the game that we have a shrewd tendency to make up the “well timed, excuse(s)” for our poor performance. Some golfers are so proficient at making up excuses that they convince themselves with their own rationalization for their sub-par results. The scary part is, some truly believe what they are saying.

I had a young up and coming golfer work for me, great kid. However, after each round he played, he came up with a different excuse on why he didn’t play well. I finally advised him to write down his excuses and then number them and give me a copy. I told him when he finished a round just yell out the corresponding number. That will save about 20 minutes of me having to listen to the reason why that round didn’t measure up to his expectations.

We have all heard them and can start reciting said excuses without skipping a beat; the course was too wet, the bunkers had too much sand, not enough sand, it was too windy, it was too calm, Billy-Bob burped in my backswing, I didn’t drink enough, I drank too much, tees were too far back, rough was too long, greens were too fast, too slow etc.… We could go on and on and never run out of excuses.

In my early playing days, I felt it was my obligation to explain why this or that round didn’t quite measure up to the rest of the field, then someone who I respected greatly took me aside and imparted some sage advice. He held up a scorecard asked me to look at where the numbers went in relation to each hole played. I responded by saying “it’s just a little box, only big enough for a number.” His reply was pure logic, he said, “yep, not enough room for a description on how you played the hole, just a number. The moment they require descriptions after each hole is played will be the time I give up the game. No one cares how you made that quadruple bogey or that eagle they just want the score recorded. It’s that simple.

Sometimes breaks go our way and sometimes they don’t, it’s called “rub of the green.We have all had bounces that we can’t explain. Bounces or breaks I believe will even themselves out over time. Today the ball took a bad bounce and ended up in the pond from 30 yards away, tomorrow the ball will ricochet off a tree nearly out of bounds and then ends up 3 feet from the hole. That’s golf.

The last thing my mentor told me was, “let your score do the talking, not your mouth. Nobody wants to hear your round, they just want to see it.

Jeff

Frieism: You can always talk or buy a better game it just depends on how deep your pockets are in conjunction with your vocabulary.

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Hoof and Mouth Disease

Hoof & Mouth Disease


Alexander Pope penned many famous quotations in his 1706 edition of “An Essay on Criticism” however the one that I have truly adopted is “to err is human, to forgive divine.” As most of us mere mortals know (with the exception of Fred and Darryl they are in a league all their own) mistakes fall upon us from time to time. Sometimes those mistakes are of our own choosing. Our freedom to choose is, in my opinion, an eternal principle, but coupled with that freedom to choose, is the necessity to accept the consequences of our actions. Those consequences are not up for debate and are meted out with precise precision after each choice is made. It is not our response to the problem but how we navigate through it that truly counts. Ok, enough with the philosophy, I think you get my point.

Early on in my career as a young golf professional I was taught a valuable lesson from non-other than my 18-hole ladies. These ladies cherished the game as much as I did, and they were all champions to me. It was because of that love for the game that I, and my staff, decided to make their Club Championship something special. We decided to give them a, live up to the minute leaderboard experience for their championship.

The idea was simple and sound. (remember that word ‘sound’ it comes up again later) We put our portable scoreboard behind the 18th green and Bubba Cool was selected to man the board as I recall. Rodney and I would be dispatched to follow along with the last two groups since the odds of the champion coming out of one of them were greatest. While tagging along and acting not only as a conduit to the scoreboard by radioing in the scores for the last hole completed, we also acted as a Rules Official for each group.

As fate would have it on that hot August afternoon my group, being the last, and not wanting to be rushed, played the final 9 holes in just over 2 ½ hours. (which is funny considering that on a normal day these ladies could play 18 holes in less than 3 hours, but the championship did bring out the competitive spirit in them) So it was a welcome relief when they finished the 17th hole and headed to the 18th tee. As I marched up and radioed the scores to Bubba Cool, I was overcome with emotion and finished my transmission with what I thought was a clever quip on the final scene about to unfold. I mused the saying, which today would have sent millennial's running for a “safe zone”, I said, quite eloquently I thought, “Bubba, the cows are heading to the barn.

Since I was raised on a farm and had on numerous occasions accompanied my grandfather in herding the cows into the barn for the evening, I really thought nothing of the saying. Oh, was I wrong! Since you see, Bubba Cool had to record the scores that where transmitted so he kept his radio on full volume. You guessed it; my colourful quip was heard by all the 18-hole ladies that surrounded the 18th green and the scoreboard.

Here is where I learned the saying, “to err is human, to forgive divine.” On my walk up to the green I was greeted not with smiling faces as expected, but rather something akin to a Klingon death stare. If looks could kill, I was a dead man walking!

Now the natural thing for the ladies to do was to inform the 3 ladies I was accompanying on to the green of my non-PC comment. Once I clued into what was starting to transpire, my only thought was how do I resign gracefully? Then the miracle of miracles began to unfold, one of my ladies took charge of the situation before it erupted into a feeding frenzy with myself being the main course. This wonderful lady quickly put an end to the saga by stating with absolute certitude, “come on now, we all know Jeff, he meant nothing more than a silly attempt at humour and nothing more! I am not offended in the least! Now come on, we have some trophies to hand out and some late afternoon beverages to consume.

​​And with that comment, the end of the controversy was relegated to the history books but the lessons I learned have stayed with me to this day; never speak over an open mic for all to hear, and forgiveness knows no bounds. As my career stopped flashing before my eyes I truly came to understand the meaning of “to forgive is divine.

Jeff

Frieism: Why do we do the things we do, when we know the things we know?

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2

Bride vs Golfers

Bride VS Golfers


We all make choices in life, some big, some small, some relevant and some not so relevant. However, one of the biggest is that of choosing a companion. Once that choice is made then it is usually followed by “will you marry me?” If the answer is yes, then how do you wish to celebrate? Will the wedding be big or small, where should such a festive occasion be held? And the list goes on and on.

Golf courses have long been sought-after venues for such a gala. They have everything you could want when hosting family and friends to share in your nuptial affair. Great food, well stocked bar, well decorated dining areas and wonderful locations for pictures that help capture the day for time memorial.

​As my memory can recall, quite vividly as I come to think of it, on one sunny Saturday afternoon such an event was held at the course on the Garrison. All was going according to plan. The weather was cooperating, the wedding party hadn’t got lost and my staff had the appropriate number of golf carts set aside. Golf carts in which to lead the party on to a location on the course that was most suitable for photos and would keep them safe from the two-legged golfers wandering their own course in search of that elusive score.

On a side note, once the Best Man found out that golf carts came with their very own drink holders, it was back inside to the bar to stock up. His newfound giddiness made me wonder if he shouldn’t have been on the bride’s side of the aisle. “Look, drink holders, so cool, come on let’s load up,” was the last thing I remember hearing before the “men” hustled back up to the main bar for more wedding day fuel.

I had retreated into the golf shop when such a display started but assured them that I was only a few yards away and would be ready to go when they returned. Honest, I was just on the phone handling some super important details that needed to be worked out for the next day’s play. Details such as, will it rain tomorrow, what time will it rain and if it’s raining can we still play?

Fate can be fickle at times and this time was no exception. When I stepped out of the golf shop to my dismay all ten carts were missing, including the wedding party with their resident photographers. To say I panicked would be an understatement. When I inquired as to which direction they were last seen heading in, (down the 18th fairway) I was in hot pursuit. I now had strangers moving in a convoy around the course, but strangers who I wasn’t convinced knew the first thing about golf course etiquette. (Remember they were amused regarding drink holders in carts!)

What seemed like an eternity was about 10 minutes before I heard the first of several screams. Dashing toward the sounds as quick as a politician in search of a TV camera I discovered them scattering toward the trees to the right of the 8th fairway. (going left they would have ended up in either of the two ponds)

Having finally herded them all together and inquiring about what they were doing in the middle of the 8th fairway I was shocked to learn that they had settled on that particular location to set-up for their wedding photos. But the conversation that followed was the icing on the proverbial wedding cake.

​“Why are you so upset?” I inquired.

“Those idiots,” pointing back toward the 8th tee, “are hitting golf balls at us!” the flustered bride screamed at me.

“Those idiots are members playing golf on their golf course, they have every right to play the 8th hole since they played the first 7 and would like to play the 9th” was my calm reply.

She countered with, “don’t they know it’s MY WEDDING DAY?!

“Oh, I am sure they are aware now that it’s your wedding day, but I can also assure you I don’t think they are overly concerned about it,” I said as politely as I could. “If you could all take a deep breath and follow me, I can show you a much better location for your pictures and you will not have to contend with any of those pesky golfers.”

The good news is that after I got her and her party (not sure what part the Groom played in all this since he was either a mute or in witness protection, he never spoke a word) calmed down I took them to a great place with a pond and three large willow trees that was unencumbered from badly dressed people pretending to be golfers. They spent almost 2 hours setting up different shots and consuming copious amounts of adult beverages. To say the least, they came back happy which was all that I was looking for after having nearly started WWIII.

Jeff

Frieism: weddings are optional, funerals are mandatory

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1

Life Lesson – Sit Down and Deal

Life Lesson - Sit Down & Deal


As this big blue planet we call home travels at 110,000 kilometers per hour around the sun I ask myself, “how come we don’t fly off?” I pondered that question for several minutes after eating my third banana popsicle here at the hospital and I think I found the answer. It is because of the relationships we form with those around us on our journey around the sun. Relationships are the glue that connect us and keep us grounded. No pun intended.

While my body is doing its best to kick out the infection that has invaded it (without my permission I might add) and I watch each day pass by in slow motion I have become eternally grateful to my roommates. So far, they have been my saving grace if you will. On my first day here while laying in what felt like solitary confinement the nurses wheeled in Gary. To meet Gary is to love Gary. He was in far worse shape than me and yet he always found time to talk and offer an encouraging word. (albeit through the magic curtain-we are three beds in a two-bedroom room) As introductions were being made and the usual banter exchanged it was revealed that we know a lot of the same people. As he inquired if I knew his cousin, my reply was “I not only know him, I took his father to Florida to play in a Pro-Am!” That would make him his uncle. Gary was just like his uncle “Red”, no holds bar, set’em up and let’s go, fun times they be awaiting.

​I told Gary that his uncle taught me one of the best lessons in life while on that trip to Florida. To this day it has had a profound influence on how I see the world.

The story unfolds by first saying Gary’s uncle “Red” did not like to fly so I obliged in driving him there and back. No problem I have made the trip many a times and two days in a car with someone you really get to know him. I was looking forward to the drive.

As it turned out we had two foursomes playing and each foursome had their own condo unit, but in the evening, we joined forces to have dinner and play some cards. Euchre was the game of choice. As the youngest participant at the table I was in for a whole lot of learning if I was willing to listen. My Dad used to tell me we learn from the young because they have no fear, and from our seniors since they have won, lost and loved.

The 8 crazy Canadian golfers struggling under the pressures of tournament golf turned to cards once again to pass the time. All was going well until one of the 8 suggested we stop playing cards and all head to the local “Ballet” for some Southern cultural refinement. To which Red replied, “shut up and deal.” The question was posed at least a half dozen times and each time the reply was the same, “sit down and deal!”

The young can be foolish at times, and this was one of those times. You must applaud his tenacity; he was relentless in his pursuit of some “Southern Exposer.” (the name of said individual shall remain nameless since he still walks among us and has himself waxed wise albeit 35+ years later)

Time was marching on that evening and with it so was Red’s patience. Catching everyone by surprise, Red cracked down on the table with a thunderous sound. When he had everyone’s attention, he declared the following with as much gusto and seriousness as a bear whose paw was caught in an evil trap, “listen, you may learn something! Just imagine you are stranded and lost in the Sahara Desert for two weeks before you’re finally being rescued. Everyone is so excited for your return, they put on a wonderful feast. Cold beer, rib-eye steaks with all the trimmings and mouth-watering desserts to complete your long overdue meal. You’re so hungry you can barely make it to the table. Then you realize it’s all an illusion, a mirage. You can only look at it and nothing else. Makes no sense. A waste of time. “Now sit down and deal!”

One truly never knows when one will be afforded knowledge from those who have traveled along the distant roads of life, but when the lessons are presented, one must be prepared to receive it. And once received, act upon its wisdom.

Jeff

Frieism; too many people mix cash with class, the two could not be further apart

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You Never Know until you ask

You Never Know Until You Ask

You Never Know until you ask

You Never Know Until You Ask!


Even in my condition the family insisted that a wheelchair be secured to push me around, so I could enjoy the tradition of Canal Days. And as usual the weather was perfect and having the whole family in town to celebrate was an all-around super time.
 
But I have always wanted to put this story to print since it is one that if I was not party to it, I may not have believed it. It’s a cute story that has its origins at golf course not far from here.

You see we combined the Canada Day and Independence Day celebrations together and had our fireworks scheduled for July 2nd each year. Fireworks night was a production unto itself. The Clubhouse would handle 500 plus for dinner inside and outside there was twice as many at the BBQ’s, rides and games for the kids. One of the more colourful attractions for the kids was “live” pig racing. I have tried my best to figure if you could have anything but “live” Pig racing. What would “dead” pig racing look like, just saying.

​The story is that one year when the festivities were in full swing around 7:30 p.m. I was summoned from my duties with the firework crew to answer an inquiry from a super nice elderly lady partaking of the evening surrounded by her family and friends. Her inquiry has stayed with me and comes to the forefront of my mind each time I witness the beauty of a firework display coloured against a dark night sky.

When I made my way to meet up with our wonderful Food and Beverage Manager who took me over to this nice lady to confirm that what he had been asked was indeed a sincere request.

It went something like “O’ what a lovely evening gentleman. Would it be possible for you to accommodate an 86-year-old lady and set off the fireworks at 8:00 p.m.? You see I go to bed at 9:00pm and I am told that the show will not start until 10:00pm? Any chance you could move them to 8:00pm? It would be greatly appreciated.”

We did what any good management team would do. We evaluated the request against the other 1,500 attendees, and then we politely told her that setting off fireworks in total daylight would lessen the experiences for the others who wish to view them against a dark sky.

She understood our dilemma and politely thanked us for our consideration and then said, “O well you never know until you ask.”

Now in the immortal words of Paul Harvey for the rest of the story. This same lady was one of the last people seen leaving the clubhouse bar around midnight. So much for an early bedtime, but I can attest she did have a very good time by all indications.

Fries

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2 Whisky Run Golf Club Article Golf Should be Fun

Golf Should be Fun

Whisky Run Golf Club Article Golf Should be Fun

Golf Should be Fun!


This past weekend my lovely wife Wanda and I were invited to a reunion of sorts of friends for whom we haven’t seen in years. We enjoyed our time together and reminisced about the days gone by since it turns out not one of our group had gotten any younger. Imagine that. Well as we stumbled down memory lane one very classy lady who Wanda and I admire greatly for her zest for life and her generous heart reminded me of the time I set out to teach her the finer points of the game. Or at least a close proximity to the game.

For what I am about to reveal I could face serious consequences before the “Committee of Non-Compliance” The only reason why such a committee exists is to have those individuals who wear perpetually tight underwear a reason to meet. Such a committee exist to suck the life out of newly minted golfers who are not familiar with their evil ways. The way to counteract a committee member is to use the universal phrase; “Jeff said,” with enough conviction that they shrink with fear.

When introducing newbies to the game they will most certainly remind you of a time when they had thought golf would be a great pastime to enjoy until someone released a tirade of insults at them for not knowing “THE RULES.” With such a fault hung out on the line of life and to be witnesses by others the newbie takes natures defense mechanism to heart, which is to retreat and never again subject themselves to the embarrassment of attempting to learn such a silly game.

I have witnessed this behaviour on more than one occasion, and so sad to see an eager beginner crushed to the depths of shame and for only having the desire to play a game.

When you sit down (you should be sitting by now) I will reveal to you my 100% proven and tested way to introduce someone to this great game. The introduction talk begins with “there are NO RULES! PERIOD!” That’s right no rules, it’s a simple concept in which I will do my best to explain.

The game of golf can be intimidating to newbies. They see people wearing clothes that would make a Shakespearean actor blush. Then they are introduced to foreign objects that resemble medieval torture implements, all with the intent of whacking a small round object over great distances that are lined with hazards to entrap them along the way. With the conclusion of that first hole they are informed that it’s not over, they get to do it another 17 times! But the worst part is they are told that to enjoy the benefits of the game one must obey all THE RULES. Oh, joy!

By first removing said RULES you remove the greatest obstacle to learning to enjoy this great game. There will come a time when the newbie will be introduced to the rules, but they are fed to them slowly and with an explanation on why such a rule exists. With this approach you begin to introduce the “FUN FACTOR” not the fear factor.

Here are the NO RULES for newbies;

1

The 1st Tee is no place for a newbie to begin their pilgrimage down the 1st fairway. Start them at the 150-yard marker. Out of sight and ear shot of would be committee members. You witness a phenomenon that occurs when a new golfer stands on the 1st tee and it is simply the fact that the golfer feels all eyes are now focused on them. The natural self talk that goes on in a newbies head sounds like the most negative self-image one can conjure up. “Remember, head down, knees bent, chin up, ball somewhere down there, focus, concentrate, breath, breath some more, now relax, oh crap I forgot to tee it up, oh well just swing, etc... (and this is where most newbies learn the language of golf, the bad language that is.) No need for such a spectacle to occur. One bad start on the any 1st hole and we have lost that once potential golfer to playing Bocce Ball for the rest of their natural days.

2

Tees, you now the little things we golfers stick under our ball to raise it above the ground when we begin a hole. My theory is why restrict a newbie from that personal pleasure of knowing the ground is not going to negatively impact their swing. Game is tough enough, when we start out, Mother Nature should take a back seat. And if the NFL can have a rule that states that “the ground can not cause a fumble.” Why should golf be any different. until the newbie is proficient at advancing the ball without the aid of a tee, then let them use it on EVERY shot.

3

Sand traps, bunkers any obstacle that one would have to demonstrate a great deal of proficiency to extricate oneself from should not be imposed upon a newbie. This is where the ONE GOOD toss comes in play. Again, why frustrate some newbie with the taking 7 strokes to free themselves of such a malady as sand. No embarrassment here unless the toss ends back up in the bunker and must be re-tossed since it was not a GOOD toss. The newbie will learn the finer points of sand play, but not at the outset. That will come over time.

4

Last but as important, you need to explain to the newbie that sometimes you will find a tree behind your ball. Such a natural hazard as placed there by Mother Nature and should be respected and no newbie cannot qualify for the National Arborist Society at the beginning of their journey to the golf kingdom. One must gain admittance to such a society through careful study and practice. One good kick right or left removes such an obstacle and the newbie is granted acess to the fairway once again.

Finally I would think a newbie should have the right to carry a card that declares them a new golfer in training and state that unless this roundabout to be played is an official tournament round then all rules are waived by decree of Sir Jeff and will be so until otherwise notified.

​We golfers have an obligation to introduce family, friends and anyone else to the game of golf. But if we don’t make it fun at the start, we will never keep them.

Fries

Frieism: “if you ever suffer from insomnia, start reading the Rules of Golf, guaranteed to put you to sleep in no time.”

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Whisky Run Golf Club There is No Cure

There is No Cure

Whisky Run Golf Club There is No Cure

There is No Cure


“O six iron, six iron! Wherefore art thou six iron?” It worked for Shakespeare, why not here as well. One can have as much love for a six iron as for any other club in one’s bag.

This somewhat strange beginning is my way of setting up a recurring predicament that affects every golfer on planet earth and if golf existed on other planets, I am sure this same phenomenon will plague them there as well.

An epidemic so cruel that it has caused grown adults to seek professional help. It is what I call “Golfers Amnesia” and no golfer is immune to it. Every golf will suffer from this debilitating malady at sometime over the course of his/her life.

The condition begins to show signs at first in the most subtle of ways. An unsuspecting golfer will call out to his playing partners, “Eh, anyone seen my pitching wedge? I am sure I used it on hole 7.” The usual reply comes back, “Nope, haven’t seen it. You sure you had it?”

This then begins the scary amnesia part. The would-be golfer will forget about the game at hand and start rummaging through grey cells to come up with the missing PW.

We have all experienced such brain cramps at times, and we can relate, but what I am about to reveal is the highly classified cure or antidote. I could lose my license to golf if it was discovered I shared this you. So just between us, okay.

When “Golfers Amnesia” begins to set in here are some known cures;
1) check the golf bag of the player you are sharing a golf cart with. 50% of lost clubs end up there either by mistake or through cunning shrewdness of our wily opponent.
2.) yes retrace your steps back to earlier holes
3.) call upon the closest Sinister Minister to perform the last rights on the club and move on.

I saw one of the worse cases of “Golfers Amnesia” in the history of the game. The story goes like this. An accomplished golfer and all-around great guy bought a new set of Lynx clubs. (yes, Lynx clubs, don’t laugh that’s how old this story is) Well this gentleman was signed up to play in a 3-day member-guest event.

One the first day he comes into the shop looking for his 6 iron. No luck. We search high and low. We put out a BOLO on the missing 6 iron. I lent the member a 6 iron from the golf shop. We continued to ask around each day and night of the competition to try to recover the wayward club. To no such luck, gone without a trace. The tournament ended, and 5 months later so did the season. Still, no 6 iron.

A new season begins, and no one has spotted the missing 6 iron. I even had the ponds searched by the divers who were in collecting balls submerged to their watery graves. No luck.

Now season number 3 begins and this good member minus his 6 iron comes in and re-orders another new set of Lynx clubs. A complete set once again arrives, and he is thrilled.

Now fast-forward a few weeks and while sitting in my office a rather well tanned fellow appears at my desk and asks, “Do you have a Stanley Hunggwell as a member here?” (The name has been changed to protect the innocent)
I relied, that we did have a member who goes by that name, “Why do you ask?”

And this was his honest reply, “well you see I played here as a guest a couple of years ago in your 3-day member-guest tournament, and I somehow ended up with Stanley’s 6 iron.

I found it on the range before the first round and forgot to turn it in. It stayed in my bag until I returned home to Florida. Then I put in my garage for safe keeping, knowing that one day I maybe asked to come back here to play. Here I am and here is Stanley’s 6 iron.”Wait for it the best part is coming when he declared with a straight face,

“I hope he wasn’t put out in any way? I knew it was his club since it had his name, address and phone number on the label below the grip. I would feel just awful if he was inconvenienced in any way”

​And with that he handed the once lost 6 iron and left the office. I called the member to inform him of the circumstances of his long-lost 6 iron. His only reply was, “well I now have a traveling set of Lynx irons, go figure.”

There you have it “Golfers Amnesia” lives on in the hearts and bodies of all who play the game. There is no known cure.

Fries

Frieism: a club lost early in an 18-hole round is less likely to be turned in then a club left on one of the finishing holes. That’s a fact?

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1 Whisky Run Golf Club Jeff Roy Looper Cathy Sherk

Looper

Whisky Run Golf Club Jeff Roy Looper Cathy Sherk

Yes, that is me caddying for Cathy Sherk – 1979 – LPGA Tour

LOOPER


A few weeks ago, our trusted leader Luke sent me a link to an upcoming movie that is dedicated to the true followers of the game, the caddy. It’s called Loopers, The Caddies Long Walk. After watching the trailer, I was carried back in time, remembering some cherished rounds not just as a golfer with a caddy at my side, but as a caddy with a trusted golfer at my side as well. True confession time, if I wasn’t playing the game, I enjoyed being a caddy a close second. There is something magical about being part of a team of two.

In an earlier lifetime it fell upon myself and my professional staff to train a new crop of caddies each year. We would run an advertisement in the local paper and begin the process of collecting names and phone numbers. Once enough names were accumulated, we scheduled a date for the first training session. My big moment came during the opening orientation. I did my best to inform these young people who were glad to be out of school for the summer and looking to score a part-time summer job at their parents’ insistence. Staring into their smiling faces I let them know of the three most important up's. Keep up, shut up and put up. If they could remember these words of eternal wisdom, then they at least had a fighting chance of surviving as a caddy.

Simply stated the caddy was to stay close to their player, speak when spoken too, and golfers can be passionate about their game, but don't take it personally. Oh, yes and smile, always smile. A smile is a curve that can straighten out any not so pleasant situation.

As a caddy you learn that although you do not have a Physiology degree yet, you are on the fast track to earning one. You learn how to read your player and make those subtle adjustments in behaviour and attitude to bring the best out of said player. Learning that a well-timed phrase here and an encouraging word there can make the biggest of differences in whether the player will have you on the bag for longer than just this one round.

The privilege fell upon me to loop for Cathy Sherk in 1979 and aid her in making it through Q School and then on to the LPGA Tour. I thought I know something about the game of golf, but boy was I wrong. The biggest unlearning was me forgetting all that I thought I knew about the game and then being humble enough to learn from not only an amazing teacher and golfer, but a truly beautiful person. People come in and out of our lives from time to time, the truly great ones like Cathy never really live. You see, Sherky had an entire amateur career in one season. In 1978, she won the Canadian Ladies Amateur, the US Ladies Amateur, North/South Ladies Amateur, Low individual at the World Team Championships and to top it off Golf Digest crowned her the World’s #1 Lady Amateur for 1978!

One memory has stayed etched upon my golfing mind to this day. We came upon a par 3 at this course in Miami. Fairly straightforward, 174 yards mostly all carry to a tucked pin behind a menacing Sand trap. Having witnesses Cathy dispense with a number of these par 3’s in the past I knew she could handle this one with ease as well. She settled on a 4 iron as her club selection to which I concurred.

Her typical shot pattern was to draw the ball into the pin. She executed the shot perfectly. To a thunderous applause of the crowd she landed the ball less than 2 feet behind the pin. Looking at a tap-in birdie for sure. My smile quickly faded as I looked over at Cathy who seemed to be distracted as we made our way to the green. Since I was closest and I was her caddy I tried the age-old question, “Sherky, what’s wrong?” She shook her head and mumbled, “I hit it to far.” 

​Ok, call me crazy (don’t answer that) but my World Class player just stiffed a tap-in birdie on a difficult part 3 and I detect that she is not pleased? What could have gone wrong? I was about to find out quickly enough. Again, I found the resolve to inquire once again, “teach me why you are not well pleased with a tap-in birdie.”

“Its simple Fries, look where the ball landed? (the ball mark was about 8 inches past the hole with the ball coming to rest a few inches further that the mark. Still a tap-in birdie) I answered back saying, “I see the mark, but isn’t it a good thing to be so close?”

What I am about to share with you is one of the differences in the way Champions think and how we mere mortals think.

Sherky looked me in the eye and said, “Fries, the ball was in the air when it landed past the hole. Albeit 8 inches past, but past it was. You see the ball never had a chance to go in the hole since it landed past the hole in the air.

I like my shots to land short of the hole and then roll to the hole which always leaves open the possibility of it going in the hole. And may I remind you that any shot that lands on the green should have that chance to go in the hole, since that is the object of the game.”

​I had to confess my pea size brain was almost short circuited on that par 3 in Miami Florida. Up until that time I was just satisfied on hitting the putting green never mind trying to find a way for the ball to disappear into the hole! Well my learning has continued from that day forward.

If you have ever walked a round of golf with a trusted caddy at your side, you have indeed experienced one of the great joys of the game. You may need to remind your caddy of the three ups’ before hitting the links. Keep up, put up and shut up!

Fries

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most feared opponent

Golf Psychology 101

most feared opponent

Golf Psychology 101


I was fortunate to be introduced to the game of golf by my uncle Austin. A wonderful man who was larger than life. Austin would enter a room, and everyone knew instantly that he was there. He worked hard but he played harder. When he found out through my parents that I was interested in golf, (I was 11 years old) he quickly planned to introduce me to the game that has captured my imagination ever since. My first 18 holes of golf with my uncle Austin was at the Oaklands Golf Course on Stanley Ave. in Niagara Falls. I proudly shot 111 and counted every single stroke.

​What has stayed with me since that day is the 19th hole. At the time I didn’t know about the adult beverages, I only cared that they had great “fries.” (could have been a precursor to Sherky affixing it as my nickname years later. Who could have known?) But while dining on natures very own goodness that I learned the simplicity of the game itself. Not its secret like so many have claimed to have found and for just six easy installments of $99.99 they will give it to you. Guaranteed to reduce your score by at least 20 strokes! You must love the 3:00 a.m. golf infomercial. A true sign of capitalism in its purest form, playing on the weak and feeble golfaholic who has lost his will to live. But at last, he finds hope sitting in his boxers and eating Cheetos at 3:00 a.m. She who must be obeyed is fast asleep, life’s good again. Where’s the first tee and what’s the course record lulls him into peaceful dreams.

My uncle imparted to me golf’s simple psychology. Where he learned it, I don’t know, but I am forever grateful for his willingness to share it with his 11-year-old skinny nephew. You might want to get a pen and some paper for this, I’ll wait.

Good, here it is; a round of golf consists of 18 holes (could be nine, but let’s not complicate it). Each hole begins by teeing your ball on the tee and advancing your ball toward the green and finishing the hole when your ball comes to rest at the bottom of the cup. How much simpler can it be? However, along the way you WILL meet obstacles, obstructions and all manner of challenges for you to navigate, challenges too many to even begin to list. This is what my uncle Austin taught me - Golf Psychology - 101.

You to treat each shot as an independent game all its own. You do your absolute best with each stroke you take. And after each stroke is completed it is, OVER. You can’t go back and do it again, (unless you are prone to abusing the sometimes-fashionable Mr. Mulligan) you count it and then move on to the next. Once your ball is holed, that hole is now in the past, never to be replayed during that round again. Get over it and move on! Let it Go! Past, present and future. The only thing that counts is the shot you are about to execute, period. The shot before is in the past, never to be seen again. The shot coming up is in the future and has not yet been played. Therefore, that future shot is of no consequence to you, since it hasn’t yet occurred. This is FOCUS. Staying in the PRESENT.

You know you can mess with someone’s head if you needed too, by knowing the ingenuousness of past, present, and future. Golf Psychology - 101. Say your playing for something serious, you know like who buys the first Prohibition. You can use this to your advantage and win the day.

​How do I know this will work you ask? I have used this little psychological weapon so many times that I have set up a confessional session with Father Daryl to try to absolve myself of such behaviour. Still baffled by why I must buy Father Daryl an OV before each confessional? I guess it’s a small price to pay to hear him hand out such pastoral advice as, “say, just forget about it, life goes on. Where is Suzy? You’ll be OK.”

Here is the proof. Next time you are in a tough match, going head-to-head with a formidable foe, and you need an edge. You make a simple suggestion. “Ha, your playing great, I bet you can’t wait to finish, could be your best round ever today. Won’t it be great to be sitting in the Clubhouse and telling everyone about the best round you ever shot today?”

​Then sit back and watch your opponent self-destruct. As soon as you sent him in (mentally that is) to the Clubhouse with 4 holes left to play, he immediately leaves the present moment and begins to see himself sitting in the Clubhouse and regaling his fellow members, friends and anyone who will listen. Shot by shot, hole by hole, all detailing his awesome round just completed. Once he is no longer in the moment, its all over but for Kate Smith singing. His focus is gone. Your only job is to play out the round and be like the Jockey who rode Secretariat, don’t fall off and victory is yours. Also, don’t forget to be a gentleman and shake hands with the looser and remember to smile. As he walks away mumbling, “how did I finish, bogey, triple bogey, double bogey, and bogey? I was playing my best game.”

Golf is such a fun game and it can be even more fun when you have the advantage of the quiet nuances of the game. And remember, there is never anything wrong cold beer, fast cars and twos on your scorecard. Enjoy, and don’t say I never told you anything.

Fries

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1 Whisky Run Golf Club Nieuwland Family Owners

Niagaras Friendliest Golf Course Turns 30

Whisky Run Golf Club Nieuwland Family Owners

A Canadian Tradition - A Family Affair


Here is a quiz, what equals 946,080,000 seconds? I’ll save you the trouble of not having a calculator at the ready. It’s for 30 years. Niagara’s Friendliest Golf Course is 30 years young (although if 60 is the new 30, then 30 must be the new 10, just saying) and still swinging from the tips!

In today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to not notice some of the things that are important to us and are right in front of us every day. For instance, you set up a time to meet your friends at Whisky Run and unless you break your leg, your chances of a fun time are a given.

Having been in the business of golf for the better part of my life I can attest to you Niagara’s Friendliest Golf Course didn’t just happen. There was and still is a great deal of hard work behind the scene’s that no one actually sees unless you are fortunate to have a front-row seat. I speak from experience when you own or run a golf course you or your family in Whisky Run’s case are always the first to arrive when the sun comes up and the last to leave when the sun goes down. 

The hours are intense for a Canadian golf course located here in Niagara. Golf course operators put in the same number of hours as everyone else, they just do it in a condensed 8-month season, not 12 months as is the norm. At the peak of the season, it is not uncommon to put in 14 to 16-hour days. After a few of those back to back and you start to feel the phenomenon of blended days. One day begins to blend into the next and you forget what day you are on. Sounds crazy until you experience it and then the only thing you are looking for is a lounge chair that provides a full body massage and maybe a dozen Sinister Ministers to snap you back to full unconsciousness.

One does not think of Whisky Run without thinking of the Nieuwland family and their extended family. Hitching oneself to someone in the business of golf is not for the faint of heart. It takes a special person to share one’s life with people who are bent on swinging clubs ill-equipped for the job, at an inert spherical object and propelling it forward (sometimes backwards) toward an intended target hundreds of yards away that is only 4 ¼ inches in diameter. And the best part is that even when these so-called sane people fail miserably, they keep coming back for more punishment, and insist on calling it FUN!

Kevin and his crew keep the golf course itself in great condition. No easy feat. What so many golfers do not realize is that Golf Course Superintendents live each summer on the edge? We mere mortals think nothing of it, but I can attest to you Kevin is watching the weather and doing his best to stay one step ahead. Mother Nature is no easy partner. She has been known to throw all kinds of obstacles at the course over the golf season. Too much rain, not enough rain, too hot, too cold, winds that can turn in to mini tornadoes, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention Superintendents must wake up the course before the season begins and then put it to bed when the time is right. All of that takes patience coupled with extensive knowledge in agronomy. Whisky Run is always green and in great condition thanks to Kevin and his staff.

Jessica is just the best because she learned from the best, Maribeth. Yes, pun intended. After a completely exhaustive day while working around our house I asked the ever-lovely Wanda had she seen anyone work harder than I did that day? She didn’t miss a beat when she replied, “really, Maribeth and Jessica work harder than that every day at Whisky Run.” 

​Their efforts are on full display when you come to the course and are greeted by the well trained and ever-friendly clubhouse staff. Susie leading the charge to make sure all who stop by before or after their round are well looked after with each visit to the clubhouse. The food that Ashley and her team in the kitchen can crank out is truly amazing. And the “Fries,” are the best. (trust me, I am an expert on fries, really) Again, what we see are the results of endless hours of preparation and training behind the scenes, most of it before the season officially starts. An interesting fact about any new golf season is that it goes from 0 to 100 in a matter of days. No in-between. I have even coined my own phrase, just after the season truly cranks up, say mid-May. I start my summer re-frame, “is it October yet?” And that continues until October!

Not to leave out Father-to-be Luke and Father Lou in the Golf Shop. (you can find Lou almost anywhere on the property and at odd times too, ownership comes with all sorts of privileges)

The Golf Shop staff are great at juggling tee times with walk-ons, to handling the pace of play on the course. (which is a challenge for any golf course) Even the assembled cast of Player Assistants are well versed at handling the flow of members, guests and the golfers in training. It takes a special touch to inform people that they may not be as good as they think they are and an encouraging word to help them remember that it’s not the group behind you that counts. But the group that is now 2 holes ahead of you that you need to concern yourselves with. Please and thank you! All with a smile.

One other thing that makes Whisky Run a special place is the Nieuwland family’s commitment to the city of Port Colborne and the Niagara Region. They continue to give back to the community and not only to share financially but also in service. Having had the chance to volunteer for Canal Days, I was overwhelmed by how many people told me that the only reason they come to Canal Days was to participate in the challenge of hitting a golf ball across the canal. Go figure! Since 2007 Whisky Run has donated more than $100,000 to local youth sports.

Early in my career, I asked someone who I can honestly say never complained about anything when it came to his golf game or the course. He was always polite and courteous. So, I asked him one day, “Doc, why are you always so positive and happy?” His reply has stayed with me, he said, “Pro, I only have two expectations when I play golf, one; is the golf course green? Two; is the beer cold when I finish?

Whisky Run accomplishes both, a green course and cold beer and all things in between. As someone who has been sitting on the sidelines this season, I look forward to any chance I get to at least visit Niagara’s Friendliest Golf Course. Because of the Nieuwland family, the members and guests, it has been a special place for the past 30 years and all indications it will be a special place for another 30 years to come.

Fries

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