When we picked up our three play-for-just-the-cart-fee coupons at the Syracuse Golf Show back in March, KP, Tater and I decided to save Seven Oaks for last.
We all held the 18 designed by prominent architect Robert Trent Jones in high esteem. Tater had followed many rounds of The Post-Standard Amateur there when he covered golf as his beat for the big daily. KP and I had played there together back when I had been a member in …
… the 1990s, I told the guy behind the desk as I handed over my coupon and $25 as I signed in Thursday morning an hour in advance of our 10:30 a.m. tee time.
Fifteen years back, in my past life, when I lived just down the road in Morrisville, I had a family membership with my daughter Elisabeth’s mother Diane for the better part of that decade.
I hadn’t played here since the divorce, since I’d moved back to Syracuse. Oh, how I’ve built the beauty of his place as time has marched on.
As I putted on the two practice greens awaiting the arrival of KP and Tater, then pulled out my iPhone 6 for some scenic shots, I decided I had not overplayed the aesthetics of this piece of our Earth.
I was stretching and swinging my driver with the head cover still on for extra weight when KP arrived with Tater just behind him. They were happy to see me already there, reversing our 2015 pattern of me-last. I explained how I’d breakfasted with my terrific daughter Elisabeth in town beforehand.
I told them of how I’d told the counter guy about my previous relationship with the course, and Tater wanted to know more about how often I had taken advantage of that opportunity.
I talked of my affiliation with a group called The Clowns, and how we had a standing 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday tee time for two, three, a quartet of foursomes. We’d see who showed up, split into A-B-C-D flights, and have captains draft squads. I was a D-lister. These guys were good. But in a best-ball format and all birdies paying bonus, my up-and-down play usually made me a coveted last-flighter.
Yeah, good times were had my me.
The crack of the tee shots from the group at the first tee across the road shoot me back to the present, and we scooted our carts over for our turn, right on time.
The golf course itself lived up to those expectation, too. If anything, the grounds were in better shape than those days. KP, Tater and I appreciated the lushness and the plushness, from the tee boxes to the fairways to the greens.
No wonder this Colgate University-owned course can now cost you a hundred bucks a pop — if you’ve booked a room at the Colgate Inn, or know a member who will invite you to join him or her.
The rough was thick and gnarly, but not too high. The creek wandered through the middle and alongside a half-dozen fairways. Some trees had been cleared from several locations. Still, this is the toughest course in Central New York we will play, I have no doubt.
The large greens ran true, the putts moving lightning fast but holding their line. My gripe was that the practice greens were quite dissimilar in condition to the real greens on the course. The slower pace out there made my time practicing of less value, I volunteered early on during the round, and Tater agreed.
A general feeling filled me about every hole.
Of course I rolled my second shot into the creek on No. 1. But I dropped out and nailed my recovery to the middle of the green to at least give myself a chance for a bogey.
Sometimes a specific memory jolted me.
The time my friend Richard Brown prematurely shouted “It’s in the jar!” as he watched the second green from the adjacent third tee and then excitedly told me how my 7-iron shot had just missed the hole after its first bounce and then again after it took hold and spun back. Then, from a twisty foot-and-a-half out, how I had babied the tap-in and saw it curl out of the cup. Only a par. Sigh.
Click on a photo for a description. Click on the bottom right photo for an enlarged slide show.
Of course, it’s never all about me.
We talked about Letterman’s final week, and all agreed on the special place of that final show. However, neither KP nor Tater sould second my feeling that Jerry Seinfeld had overstepped his boundardy by improvising a second sentence to his nunber in the very last Top 10.
I volunteered how my dear wife Karen and I were winding down our binge-watch on Madmen because I knew they both were fans and had watched the finale. I told how I’d escaped any news of that last show so far, even avoiding Austin’s take on it on his Modern Philosphers blog by skipping right to the comment section and singing Mary Had a Little Lamb and plugging my ears. KP said he’d done some brush-upping of his own before that last show, and had delighted in refreshing his memory with moments of seasons past. Tater laughed and agreed and I even pitched in because Karen and I are up to season six.
Madmen binging might be a post of its own when Karen and I are done. And it sure fits in with this return to Seven Oaks.
When it was all over, I had my one required par for the occasion. I’d rolled in a longish putt from off the green on the ninth hole that had left me very pleased. The skins divvy was pretty even. Eight for KP, six for Tater, four for me. KP was the medalist, breaking 100. Nicely done, sir.
We were quite pleased that we’d gotten every cent’s worth out of our premium ticket for that golf show, three-for-three on the coupon courses. We talked about where we’d like to play for our next outing. We’ll see. So much good still awaits. It’s only May.
Do you tend to recall things as better and better or worse and worse as you look back? What’s the last thing you’ve built up in your mind that has met expectations? What’s your go-to beautiful spot?