In North Bay, Osprey Links Golf Club and the North Bay Country Club play and annual home and away called the Ryder Cup. Each team consists of 32 players over the age of 55. Creating 16 teams of 2, they compete in a head to head competition for the Caldwell Cup. This year, we played in the scramble format for both days. Each 9 holes was worth 1 point for a two-day total of 64 points. To win on team must accumulate 32.5 points over the two days. This year, the Golf and Country Club won 37 to 27.
This was the first time I played in this event and I have to say it was a great time. I met some great players, true gentlemen, and first-rate competitors. When first asked to play, I had no idea what to expect, but after two rounds against two different teams I was grateful to be part of the Osprey Links team. My partner, Blair, and I played some great golf, but more importantly, our opponents were great to play against. We finished 1 point to their 3, but the score was closer than the final tally.
On the first day, we played against Denis and Dale. From the moment we met, we started laughing and telling stories. It did not stop for 4 hours; it was the most fun I had on a golf course for many years. Denis was a 75-year-old player whose game was still as sharp as anyone’s. He used his unmatched knowledge of the Country Club track to their advantage all day. Hitting from the gold tees, he sometimes gained a 75 yard advantage he definitely did not need. During the round, his stories of golf were riveting and I am glad he decided to share his golfing exploits.
One the third hole, Denis drove the green! Yup, hit it the ball uphill 260 yards! What an inspiration for all players to aspire too – 75 years old and still playing golf at a high level.
But, Denis was only one part of their team. His partner, Dale, was as solid as a rock. He hit it a long ball and was laser straight. He only missed 2 fairways all day and set up many holes for Denis to do some of his magic. However, Dale’s strongest contribution to their win was on the green. He made many clutch putts in such a way that it reminded me of Steve Stricker. It was if Denis was setting us up and Dale was mowing us down. They were a great team!
On the second day, we played against Serge and Dean. Both players had game as well, but at different times they hit the critical shot required to win or half the hole. Dean and Serge were not flashy players, however, they were solid ball strikers and played to their strengths. Every time Blair and I thought we were going to have an advantage, they pulled a rabbit out of their hat and made the hole more difficult to win or half.
Serge was sneaky long. His swing was the not the smoothest, but he hit the ball straight 95% of the time. After the round, he told me he was nursing an injury and that explained quite a bit. He knew his distances very well and always seemed to be pin high on his approach shots. Except for two holes, he was in play. On the 7th hole, Serge hit second. He said he was going to play safe and proceeded to hit his ball to the 100 yard marker. Oh yeah, it was a 220 yard carry over water with out-of-bounds on the right. On the 8th hole 174 yard par 3, he hit the pin with his tee shot. It was an amazing shot.
Dean was a great scramble player and a solid putter. The worse the lie, the better the played. On the 10th hole, the ball was sitting 1 foot above his feet and 200 yards from the green. As you can see, he hit a solid shot and the ball came to rest 5 yards from the green. It was awesome to watch. Dean’s putter was very hot and the best putt he made was on the 16th hole. It was a 35 foot skater down hill and Dean drained it like it was a routine putt! That brought them to within 1 with two to play.
Well, Blair and I did not play all that bad either. On the first day, Blair kept us in play most of the time. He was a fantastic lead and really help give me a read on the very difficult the Country Club greens. We thought we had a chance on all the holes except for two. Denis and Dale said “you guys are the best above the hole putters they had ever seen”! Well, there is a compliment in there, but also we realize we were on the wrong side of the hole all day. I made some long putts early to half and win a few holes, but it was not enough to overcome the team of Denis and Dale.
Against Serge and Dean, we started slow and picked it up on the back nine. On the front we kept the ball in play, but did not hit enough close approach shots to make many putts. On the back was a different story. Blair hit two fantastic shots that set us up to win the back 9. On the 14th hole, he hit his drive 260 yards around the corner on a dog leg right hole. His drive set us up a for solid birdie that put us 2 up with 4 to go. And on 17, he made a 66 foot putt (yes, I measured it) to close out Serge and Dean on the back nine!
The Senior’s Men Ryder Cup was a fantastic event. We finished with a delicious meal from the staff at Osprey Links before the Caldwell Trophy was presented. Blair and I look forward to playing again next year and hopefully bring the trophy to Osprey Links.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog