After months of anticipation, I received the email inviting me back for another year of the Daniels’ Torreon Golf Extravaganza. The “by invite only” annual tradition pre-dates me by more than a couple of years – and each year, there’s usually a guy to two that doesn’t make the cut to receive the prestigious re-invite. This year, we had 40 guys and played 90 holes of golf over 3 days.
This year’s event ended up being held June 9-11 at Torreon Golf Club in Arizona’s high country town of Show Low. I covered plenty of ground on Torreon and the area in my post from last year and you can read about it by clicking this link. This year, I’ll stick to some of the highlights of the event itself.
For starters, this year’s tourney saw the re-emergence of the board members from the previously mentioned mysterious location in New York. Turns out, that location is Binghamton, NY – not far from my home town of Scranton, PA. Chris S (a police officer) and John Y made the cross-country trip to check in on the other board members to ensure the event was still on track – and it’s a good thing. You’ll find out why later.
After Wednesday evening’s welcome party hosted at the cabins of Pat H and Mike D, it was an early night – at least for some – to prepare for the 9am shotgun the next morning. This year, I stayed at Eric B’s cabin in Pinetop – another mountain town about 30 minutes east of Torreon.
Thursday morning’s round was a shamble requiring the two lowest scores from the group. In a shamble, everyone hits from the tee, then you all play your own ball from the best tee shot. This speeds up play significantly – and it’s needed considering we play 36 per day. My group was Steve A, Jim A and Dave S aka “Ho Hum”. Ho-Hum was a rookie that I also knew from Xavier Dads’ Club Ski Trips. We played well, but not well enough to earn some cash. More importantly, it was the first time I played with all of them and it was a great day. Dave earned his nickname by consistently hitting every single fairway of the round. It must be boring not being able to explore the entire course like I do.
In the afternoon, it was another 4-man shamble, coupled with a waltz. In a waltz, you take one lowest score on the first hole, two of the lowest on the second and three of the lowest on the third and then repeat – ala 1,2,3, 1,2,3, etc… Get it now? In this round, I got paired with “Fireman” Pat H, Brian E and Joe “Aqua Man” C.
Everything was clicking for us early on. We felt we were well within the money – until the 14th hole. That’s when Joe and I literally lost Pat and Brian for about 10 minutes. When they re-emerged, Brian stuck his shot to about 20 feet and we felt we were still in the hunt. But I think the long day was starting to take its toll on Pat. As sunset was upon us, Joe and I were imploring Pat and Brian to keep pace. We felt if we didn’t finish and were more than a hole behind the group in front of us, there’s no way we’d have a chance at a payout.
Pat was in rare form. Let’s just say he drained his share of doubles on the second 18 of the day – and I’m not talking bogies. He maintains that his pace of play was hampered on the final five holes by an injury he sustained on 14. How do you get injured playing golf you might ask? By using a tree branch to open someone’s beer bottle. How else? Here’s a link to handy guide in case you’re ever in that situation again.
As night fell on as us we struggled to finish, the only movement on the course besides us, was the herd of deer on 16 and an elk walking up 18. We stumbled through 18 in the dark– a hole that required 3 of the 4 low scores. We easily dropped down the leaderboard and out of the money.
The next morning, we were back at it early for the next 36. In the first round, I was fortunate to get teamed with CJ and the other twosome of Mark “Van Gogh” R and Ho Hum again. CJ and I played well together – each picking up the other as we made our way around the course. Van Gogh and Ho-Hum played well, with Ho-Hum living up to his nickname, but they were a few shots back of us. And in case you don’t know the story, Van Gogh got his nickname from a shower curtain-ring incident a couple of years ago. Picture that.
After a quick turn, it was back out for the second 18. This time, a four-man shamble with the 2 lowest scores, I was paired with Alex S, Joe M and Jim A again. By this time, fatigue was definitely setting in – or was it the Tito’s. Alex and Joe carried the group most the way with me and Jim contributing a few shots here and there.
As we waited on 18 for the final groups to come in, “Judge” Rudy was mumbling about how poorly he played today. The next thing I know, he walked over to his bag, came back to the top of the hill and proclaimed, “Do you know how bad I played today? This bad!” – and he proceeded to helicopter his putter across the green and into the pond. Hilarity ensued!
Gerry, aka “the Godfather”, and his group were next to make their way in. That’s when Gerry’s son Alex decided to mess with Papa. He pulled the flag from the hole on 18 and laid down just behind the green – over a small hill – holding the pin steady in the air. What are the odds that anyone can actually fly directly over the flag and stick it close? After all of their approaches ended up well short, it was no-harm, no-foul. With Gerry being a bit competitive (cough cough), there’s no telling what would have happened if it cost them the round. It didn’t. They still won.
About the time that group finished, I think the Judge had an epiphany. There’s another round tomorrow – and he doesn’t have a putter! He offered $100 to anyone brave enough to jump into the murky water to retrieve his putter. Personally, I would have just purchased a new one since the old one wasn’t working 🙂
After little contemplation, Aqua Man stripped to his skivvies and dashed down the hill and plunged into the water. He had plenty of help with guys telling him it landed more to the left. Or was it to the right? No! Back further. No, it closer to the shore. After a few minutes, it was determined to be a lost cause and he emerged, looking like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The Judge, being the good guy that he is, rewarded the effort anyway.
Aqua Man had to know, diving in a pond on 18 with the golf attendants all there cleaning carts and clubs, would most likely get you banned from the event. Was it worth the risk for $100?
At dinner, CJ and I picked up the spoils for 2nd place in the 2-man! But the real treat came after dinner. That’s when Eric B “the Animal” had to pay off his bet from last year. If you read the story from last year, you know what’s coming. Most of the Board took turns applying duct tape to Eric’s back to rid him of the carpet hiding under his shirt. One strip at a time, the gallery moaned as the tape was peeled and a red stripe appeared on his back. Even the servers in the cabin got involved in the effort – though most viewed the event from the second level balcony. Eric was such a good sport, the Board moved to make him the first ever to earn a lifetime exemption to attend the event!
Later, Eric doubled-down on his bet for next year. Let’s just say there will be paintballs flying – the target is yet to be determined. I think Eric got his inspiration for this bet by staring at the walls of his bedroom in his cabin. They’re lined with stuffed animal heads from his various hunts. If Eric does make good on losing weight this year, Mino and Daniels will be dancing like gazelles. Otherwise, it will be Eric wandering around like a rhino in a cage while the Board takes aim. Either way, get your popcorn ready!
Saturday morning, it was back at for the final 18 of the week. My partners today were Eric D, Van Gogh and Rob M. After a fairly uneventful round, we played well enough to land in 3rd. We finished on 18 and waited for the other groups to come in. By this point, many had already made their way down the mountain to catch flights, but we had quite a few still players watching the events on 18.
Then came the bizarre…
I heard someone yelling, “HELP! I can’t swim!” I looked into the pond and sure enough, there was someone bobbing up and down, holding what looked like a book over their head. Everyone was confused. Was he with us? Was he trying to find the putter? What’s with the book? A couple of guys took off running around the pond to the other side – where he entered. Others ran down to the edge by the green in front of us. He continued to bob up and down. Then, another splash. Aqua Man stripped down to his skivvies again (I think he has a fetish) and dove in. The guys on the other side even had the foresight to grab the flagstick to use as a way to pull him out. Aqua Man swam over, grabbed the guy and wrestled him to shore where Chris S and Rudy G were waiting.
Was there any doubt that the Officer and the Judge would be there waiting to calm the situation? I don’t know what happened, but I know the Judge sang the praises of Chris on how he handled the situation before the man’s parents arrived. Well done Officer.
After Aqua Man got the mystery man to shore, he pleaded for amnesty while swimming back to the other shore. I think he realized his actions from yesterday would be weighing on the board’s mind in the off season. Would this be enough to overcome yesterday?
Now to get serious for a moment. The book, as it turned out, was a bible. This man was clearly confused and mentally challenged – whether his normal state or some drug-induced state, we don’t know. While it may be easy to joke about the situation, mental illness is a very serious problem in the US. I can only imagine the struggles of the parents of this guy. Our system is stressed and no longer accommodates many of these individuals. Just take a look at the homeless population in your town. I hope and pray that there will be a long-term solution for what seems to be a growing issue.
What a bizarre ending to yet another epic White Mountain Classic. While we’re not sure of Aqua Man’s status for next year, we do know that we have newly named Casey’s Cove in his honor.
I hope to see the whole gang again next year!