Yesterday, I played in the first leg of the Ontario Northern Region Senior Men’s Ryder Cup competition. I was invited to join the 8 man team and I am grateful for being asked to compete. My partner, Wes Burton (same last name but not related), and I had a fantastic time and once we got our legs underneath us, charged forward to win 4 of 6 points in our scramble, match play grouping. It was the first time I played the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club and I can say I was not disappointed.
The Idylwylde Golf & Country Club played at 6166 yards and as you know from previous articles, this distance fits perfectly at my wheel house. Upon arrival, I made my way over to the practice area. It was one of the best I have used in a long time. The range was massive and so were the chipping/putting greens. It has been quite awhile since I had the opportunity to take my time to warm up and it paid off during the round.
Wes and I were matched against Ron and Richard from Cedar Green Golf Club. They were fantastic opponents and when they went 3 up after 6 holes, I was beginning to wonder if Wes and I were in over our heads. On the first hole, both teams were putting for birdie. We had a 15 footer uphill and they had a 45 footer. Obviously they went first and to our surprise sank their putt! We lipped out and were down one. We tied the second and on the third hole just read the above situation as they sunk another 45 foot putt for birdie. We were down two after 3 holes. Not the start we were hoping for, but that is golf.
As we continued through our first nine, We were playing solid golf, but Ron and Richard were playing better. After nine holes we were down three and lost two points to the total competition. However, Wes and I were not discouraged because our games were getting stronger and stronger as we played.
Interestingly, Idylwylde offered many holes that required more course management than I normally play. This course was not a bangers course, but one that required strong off the tee consistency with great distance control on approach shots. I made use my new approach shot technique of clubbing up and hitting softer that resulted in some closer shots that paid off on the back nine.
On the back nine, Wes and I started to heat up. By the 15th hole the match was all square. Between our excellent approach shots and solid putting, we clawed our way back. We played some very consistent golf, but what stood out was our recovery shots. On the greens we missed (three to be specific), we halved the holes by solid chips to within 8 feet each time. Then our flat sticks took over. We seemed to always rise to the challenging occasions.
On the 16th hole, Wes and I had a bad hole. We missed our approach shots and our opponents showed that they were not ready to concede the round. They made a birdie and we parred the hole. Thus, we were 1 down with two to play.
The 17th hole was 175 yard par 3 and I was the last to hit. After everyone finished left or right; I decided to hit my 5 iron as that was the perfect flight distance. I striped my ball to within 12 feet and luckily sank the putt to square the match. As we headed to the 18th hole, a 480 yard par 5, Wes and I felt confident that we had a chance to win the back nine and aggregate score by continuing to play consistent golf.
After our drive into the fairway, we were situated 210 yards from the front of the green. As you can see from the picture below, the approach to the 18th green was an uphill, very narrow and challenging. I hit a 3 wood straight as an arrow into the tiny approach gap to the far right of the pin. I think it was my best shot of the day because I hit my ball through the little gap just 12 feet onto the green.
Our opponents missed short left and had a very difficult up and down third shot. Wes and I were putting for our second eagle of the day. Just to brag a bit, we made our first eagle earlier in the round 😉 . Our 65 foot putt was made even more challenging because of the pressure provided by our teammates who were watching us finish the hole. Wes made a fantastic putt and left us about 3 feet from the cup. Learning from his line and speed (as I did all day), I was able to leave my ball 1.5 feet from the hole, which our opponents made us putt. They could not concede the match for the win as they made par on the hole and I would not have either. Regardless, Wes and I finished by winning the back nine and the aggregate score for a total of 4 points.
During our match, I was the anchor. When two players compliment each others playing abilities, like Wes and I, it is easy to play last. On approach shots I changed my club selection about 4 times on the back nine as a result of Wes’ shots. Putting, the ones Wes missed enabled me to change my line and either sink the putt or get closer.
Wes’ and my game really worked well together. Most of the time, one of us would make the clutch shot and as such rose to the pressure during our round. During many tee shots, we would decide on a shot for Wes. After contact we realized that we misjudged the distance or line. So, I would make adjustments that led to success. For those players who have not played in a scramble, the lead position is as critical as the anchor. They drive the ship, provide important decision data, and set the tone for the group. Wes did that in spades and for that reason our golf games compliment each other very well.
Our Osprey Links team did not fair very well overall, but it is very early. But do not fear, we have three more matches left in the Senior Men’s Ryder Cup Competition. I hope that Wes and I continue to be a team because I think that our complimentary games we will enable us to continue to win our matches. Of course I do not decide the pairings, but why change a winning team. Our next match is at Timberwolf Golf Course in Sudbury in two weeks (next week is a bye week for our team). I have played this course in the past and look forward to teeing it up again.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!