Monday, August 21, 2006

With Friends Like These .....

Last weekend was our annual summer golf weekend. For a change we went to Pinetop this year since Bill and Glen bought a home up there last year. Usually we go to Tucson and play in the heat at a 5 star resort. This year we decided it would be better to stay for free and play in 80 degree weather.

We left at 8:30 AM Friday morning from Phoenix and arrived in Pinetop by 12:00. Bill's Mercedes is a monster. I have never had the pleasure of riding or driving a car where you can pass anyone at will, even if they are already going 75 mph. His car definitely has some balls.

We grabbed a quick bite at Pinetop Lakes Golf Club and we were on our way. Bill already owed me $70 from a previous bet so that's what we decided to play for. Currently Bill is an 8 handicap and I am a 10, so he has to give me two stroke on this course. In past trips, we have had problems with Chris trying to be funny and hitting into us on holes. In order to prevent this, we let them tee off first. So my group was Bill, Adam, and I. Ahead of us was Robert, Bob, Chris, and Glen.

I did not start out well, but Bill was not playing well either. After 13 holes, Bill was hopelessly behind and made a deal. He would forfeit the $70 bet if we played the last 5 holes for $140. Usually he waits until the last hole to press. Then it's usually a coin flip. Since I feel like I am a better player, a multi hole bet is definitely an advantage for me. I said ok and we flipped the switch. We both started playing really well. We seemed to hit every green, or if we didn't we made great up and downs. We played the first 3 holes of the new match at even par.

Since Pinetop Lakes is an executive course, Bill felt he had an advantage because he only hits irons off of the tee. Bill can't keep his driver on the course so a short course is right up his alley. The 17th hole is one of the few par 4's on the course. Bill teed off and pushed his shot to the right. I used 3 wood and hit a decent shot that was fading right as well. We saw it bounce twice and even though it was close to out of bounds, we were 100% sure it was still in. As Adam was teeing off, I noticed that Chris and Robert had doubled back and were driving their cart around where my ball had landed in the rough.

After Adam hit, we took off down the fairway to look for our balls. Bill found his right away, but I could not find mine. We spent about five minutes walking up and down the right rough, but it was no where in sight.

"I think Chris took my ball" I said to Bill.

"Chris wouldn't do that. He knows there is a lot of money riding on this." Bill replied.

"What do you want me to do?" I asked. Bill said what I knew he would, which was to drive back up to the tee and hit another one. So that's what I did and of course I striped one right down the middle. If I could play my second tee ball all the time, I might be good enough for the PGA.

I wedged on to the green and had a 25 foot putt for bogey. Bill missed his up and down and was in for bogey. So I still had aputt to tie the hole. I hit a good putt, but it came up a foot short and I carded a double bogey.

The 18th hole was a par 5. Again a rarity on an executive course, but the perfect kind of hole for me to make up a stroke. I decided to go for it and hit driver, even though I had not hit one all day. My ball stayed on the course, but it did banana to the right and landed in the rough by a couple of trees at the turn of the dogleg right. Bill did the same thing.

Between the trees and my lie, I could not go for the green in two, so I laid up. My 2nd shot went a little farther than I wanted and it went through the fairway into the rough on the left, about 80 yards from the green. I did not mind being in the rough. The course was so soft that I had backed up 6 balls off the greens from the fairway during the round. Hopefully the rough will take some of the spin off and I can get it close.

Meanwhile, Bill had advanced his ball down the fairway, and hit the green in 3 shots with about 50 feet left for birdie. I hit a decent wedge shot over a big pine tree and landed about 20 feet away.

As I got to the green, Chris was there waiting for us and wanted an update on me and Bill's bet.

"Do you have a Callaway ball in your pocket?" I asked Chris.

"No, why?" he replied.

"I thought you hit my ball" I accused.

"No I wouldn't do that to you. Did you lose your ball? Rob lost his ball on that hole too" said Chris.

Bill two putted for par, so I needed birdie for the tie. I missed and made par and finished the round even on the bets. I was disappointed that I lost, but I felt good about it, because I played well and forced Bill to play 5 holes in 1 over par to beat me. I hit a good tee shot on 17 and just caught a bad break.

Here's where it get's interesting.

We finish up and we meet up with Robert, Jon, Marty, and Bob at the cart return area. I ask Robert if picked up my Callaway ball. He played coy for a while and then admitted that he did hit a Callaway ball from the right rough on 17 and then produced the ball. A Callaway with a blue logo and a red Sharpie pen line around half the ball. That is my ball. I mark it with the red sharpie to help me line up short putts. Everyone who plays with me on a regular basis knows that's how I mark my ball.

Now all hell breaks loose. I tell Bill, the bet's off. He says, "tough shit!" I yell at Robert for costing me $280. The other guys thought we should go back to 17 and play the holes over again.

Finally, Bill and I agree to ask the club pro what the ruling is. The pro tells us that since I declared my ball lost and put a new one in play, that that is the ball I have to count and I lose. If I had dropped a ball where I thought my drive was supposed to be, played that one in, and hit a provisional off the tee, then I could have counted my first ball when we found out that Robert had picked up my ball.

Now if I was in Bill's shoes, I would have declared the second part of the bet off and just owed $140. If my friend get's screwed over like that, I am going to give him a break. I don't begrudge Bill for taking the money, because we both play to win. We tend to try and play by the rules and the pro confirmed his opinion. I was a little mad at Bill, but I understood.

Robert, on the other hand, had a lot to answer for. First of all, I still don't believe that he did not know that it wasn't his ball. I know he would not hit my ball on purpose, but he probably thought he found a ball near where his was supposed to be. "I'll just hit this one and put it in my bag," Robert probably said to himself.

I told Robert, that he doesn't even play Callaway balls. How could he not know that it wasn't his? His excuse was that he was playing all kinds of different balls that day.

Now I am pissed because Robert did something stupid and it cost me $280. I would have gotten over it a lot quicker if he had just said, "Larry, I screwed up, I'm sorry, " and shown some remorse. Instead he kept insisting that he didn't know it wasn't his ball and making all kinds of excuses on why it wasn't his fault.

After dinner we go to dinner at Charlie Clark's Steakhouse. We pound a few beers in the bar and get seated in their large dining room. By now, I figure that maybe it has sunk in with Robert that he should feel bad for screwing me out of the bet. I suggest that he buy me dinner and we forget about it. For some reason he doesn't take me seriously and I buy my own dinner. Dinner was great by the way. I had their house specialty of Blackened Prime Rib, which was awesome.

After dinner, we headed straight to the Hon Dah Indian Casino. I found their poor excuse for a poker room and sat down in a 3-6 Hold'em game. There were only two games to choose from and one of them was Omaha. The rest of the guys went to the black jack tables. After 20 minutes, Marty popped his head in the 3 table poker room and said that everyone was leaving. I was on the button, so I told the dealer it was my last hand.

I was dealt Kc Qs and raised it after 4 limpers. The flop was a brick with one club. It was checked to me and I bet to see if I can get any over cards to fold. One player folded. The turn was another club. Everyone chekcs and I check it through. The river was another club so I had the King high flush. It's checked to me and I bet. I get two callers and take down the pot. I rack up with a $12 profit. I find everyone else and they are all stuck at least $100 at black jack table. Karma's a bitch isn't it?

We all leave and go back to the house to play 1-2 Pot Limit Hold'em. The game started 6 handed with Bill, Marty, Adam, Jon, Robert, and me. Within the first few hands I raise K-10 suited on the button. Jon calls and we see a flop of K-T-6. Jon bets into me. I raise the pot and Jon calls all in. Jon has T-6 for two pair. My two pair holds up.

A little while later, I am dealt pocket Kings. Marty raises in front of me preflop. I reraise and he calls. The flop comes out ten high. He checks to me. I bet the pot. He check raises me the pot. I call and Marty is all in. Marty turns over AA. Oops. The turn is a King and now I have trips. The river is no help to Marty and he's broke and done.

As the night went on, I lost a few pots to Jon and won some small pots here and there. Eventually it got down to 3 handed with Jon, Robert, and me. Rob was the short stack and Jon was the big stack.

I was determined to break Robert and take some money from Jon as well. We all swapped chips for a while, but eventually Robert was ground down and I finished him off when I rivered a baby flush against his pair. Karma is a stone cold bitch. In the end, everyone was broke except for Jon and I. Jon finished up $200 and I finished up $100.

For the second time, I was really impressed with Jon's poker game. I really concentrated on finding some physical tells and he kept fooling me. Sometimes he would talk with a good hand and then a little while later he would talk while he was bluffing. Sometimes he would act strong with a good hand. Other times he had nothing. His only weakness against me was his inability to fold a good hand against me. Twice he said he knew what I had and yet he still called a big bet on the river. I was more than happy to confirm his suspicion and take his money. I finally told him, "if you know what I have, then you should fold." I think it finally sunk in.

I was happy with the way I played for the most part. I managed to get away with a lot of bluffs short handed for some small pots. I got away from the big pots, unless I had a monster. I don't know how long we will keep playing 1-2 pot limit however. Adam, Carlo (who was not here this time), Chris, and Bill keep going broke. The money goes to the good players much faster in a no limit or pot limit game rather than a limit game. We may break them eventually.

Saturday morning I woke up hung over and tired since I had to sleep in the same room as Bill and Glen. I do not sleep well in strange beds. Bill went on a McDonald's run and brought back breakfast. This morning we played at White Mountain Country Club a regulation length course.

Right after we got there, Robert came up to me with a black label Callaway ball and said, "Larry I just wanted to show you that I do play a Callaway ball."

Due to the time in the morning, my hangover, and general anger towards Robert from last night, I went off on him. I don't care what ball he plays as long as it's his ball. What Robert kept failing to understand is all I wanted to see from him was a little remorse and an "I am sorry, I screwed up." No excuses and no rationalizations. Just own up to it. I finally berated him into saying a half hearted "I'm sorry" and I left for the first tee.

My heart was pounding from adrenaline for the first two holes, which I somehow managed to par. After the second hole, I tried to give myself a reality check. I am playing golf in beautiful weather on a fantastic course. Enjoy it god dammit! I really did try to have fun, but my golf game went into the shitter and I was miserable for 4 hours. I eventually staggered home with an 89 and a $75 loss to Bill.

I immediately went home to take a shower and a nap. When I awoke, Robert, Chris, Bob, and Jon had gone back home to Phoenix. They all had to be there for other committments so the rest of us watched the end of the third round of the PGA championship and we decided to go to the Kabuki House for dinner and then Talledega Nights for a movie. Dinner was great and the movie was a classic. This definitely put me in a better mood.

We had made a 7:30 AM tee time at White Mountain CC again for Sunday, but Adam, Marty, and Glen all bailed out so it was just Bill and I. The stakes were $75 again and this time we played some solid golf. Bill jumped out to an early lead with a birdie on the first hole while I 3 putt bogied it. I managed to string some decent holes together and finished with a 42 on the front 9. Bill had shot a 41. I was in a much better mood and I was hitting the ball pretty well off the tee. My putting was still suspect, but I was doing enough to make par, and I even made a 15 foot birdie putt. I finished him off on 18 with a bogey and took his money. I also knew that I was a lock to make another $75 on the PGA championship since I had Tiger Woods on my team.

Overall I made $175 in gambling on the trip and got to cool off in the high pines. Another great trip with lots of stories that will be told and retold over the years.

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