A great weekend in Curtis

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I had the pleasure of playing in one of the best-run golf tournaments I've ever participated in at Arrowhead Meadows golf course in Curtis last weekend. Although it was oppressively hot with high temperatures soaring over 100 degrees both days, the hospitality and friendliness of the people involved made the heat a lot more bearable.


The tournament was a two-day affair last Saturday and Sunday, consisting of 12 four-man teams in a scramble format. Tom Hanson and Ronnie Lenz were in charge of practically every aspect of the tournament, as well as playing in it, and they did a marvelous job. I was asked several times over the two days if I was having a good time, if everything was going okay, and was there anything they could do to make my experience better. That kind of hands-on caring approach is not as common today as it used to be, even in Nebraska, and it certainly made all the golfers feel wanted and appreciated.


The first day of the tournament was followed by an incredible steak dinner, accompanied by macaroni salad (the best I've ever had) and cole slaw. The meat was marinated perfectly and was so tender you could cut it with a fork and the flavor was out of this world. The usual fare at a tournament is barbeque and, while there's certainly nothing wrong with barbeque, this meal was a cut above anything I've ever had at a golf tournament before.


The ladies helping behind the counter and out on the course did a yeoman's job as well and were just as friendly and accommodating as Tom and Ronnie were. They were constantly busy as you might imagine but none of them ever lost their sense of humor, so our hats are off to Terry, Elaine, and especially Lynea, who I got to know better than the others, for the great job they did.


After the steak dinner, all the participants had the opportunity to bid on the Calcutta, which would be determined by the combined score of the two rounds played. An auctioneer conducted the bidding and this was my first experience with a female auctioneer.

Regina Anderjeski was as good as any man I've heard in that role. She had an engaging personality, a quick wit, and an innate ability to keep the action going. My team bought ourselves after some rather spirited bidding. As I was watching and listening to the auction, it occurred to me the unique environment we live in in this part of the country.

I imagined for a moment what people in New York City or Los Angeles or Miami would think about the scene I was witnessing and participating in and concluded they wouldn't understand it or appreciate it at all most likely. They would most likely make disparaging comments about us all being rednecks, cowboys, farmers, or hicks and dismiss us and the proceedings out of hand.

For practically everyone in attendance, I'm sure that would be fine with them. The people who live here are, I believe, more in touch with their roots and their values than maybe any place else in the country and if others don't understand us or look down on us, it's their loss and not ours.

As Gretchen Wilson sings, "I'm one Bud wiser than I was a minute ago." They probably wouldn't understand that either.


We played our final round on Sunday, taking a break at the turn for Sloppy Joes and all the fixings, then finished up and waited for the results to be announced. As it turned out, my team, consisting of Jim Lemon, Dan Loper, Bill Larson and I tied for first in the Calcutta and tied for third in our flight. Unfortunately, the ties were broken by scorecard rather than a playoff and we lost both of them. That dropped us to second money for the Calcutta and out of the money in the flight. I realize most scrambles are settled by scorecard but I've never agreed with it and, obviously, still don't, since it cost us a lot of money.

If we're going to play 36 holes over 13 grueling hours, we would have certainly been prepared to participate in a chip-off or extra holes to decide the winner on the course, on the basis of our performance or lack thereof, rather than an arbitrary and capricious scorecard determination.

Maybe that change will be made in the future. It's very disheartening to play as hard as you can for two days in sweltering heat, only to lose through nothing you did or didn't do on the golf course.


Finally, a word about scrambles. Golfing purists and golf pros tend not to hold scrambles in very high esteem and, consequently, many courses have few if any scrambles. For the low-handicap golfers that's understandable.

The problem is that most of us are not low-handicap golfers. When your handicap is between 10 and 30, you're playing in a tournament for fun and camaraderie, rather than an attempt to perfect your game.

We talked to several of the participants in last week-end's scramble and most of them prefer the scramble format to any other kind of tournament format when it comes to spending your money and having a good time. Hopefully, more golf courses and organizations will host more scrambles in the future.


Thanks again to everyone who made the Arrowhead Classic golf tournament a rousing success. Your hospitality, good cheer, good humor, and hard work will bring us back to Curtis again and again.

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