by Kevin Sylvester, Buffalo Sports Page
The third edition of The LECOM Health Challenge gets high marks for a great event at Peak n Peek Resort in Clymer, NY. Conditions were very good despite a few weather delays during the week, and scoring reflected that. The course was receptive to scoring due to some soft greens, and the winning score of -22 is proof of that. Nelson Ledesma joins Rick Lamb and Chesson Hadley in winning the event, and moved himself into the top 25 on the Web.com Tour money list. The top 25 earn their PGA Tour card for next year before the tour playoffs.
Most of WNY were rooting for Dudley Hart over the weekend. The hometown guy (Rochester/Buffalo) shared the lead after 36 holes as he was tuning up for his August debut on PGA Tour Champions. The 2 time PGA Tour winner struggled with his ball striking Saturday, and that carried over into Sunday with a round of +4, in a tie for 34th at -9. That’s not bad for the old guy playing with and against guys half his age. Dudley will hate reading that line (sorry), and it hard to believe he turns 50 in a few weeks. What’s not to hate is that he can compete after multiple back surgeries several years ago to repair a disc in his back. It’s been a long road to playing quality competitive golf, and I look forward to seeing what he’s able to as a youngster on PGA Tour Champions.
Golf Channel did an excellent job showcasing the beauty of the Peak n Peek Resort and covering the event. If you did not make it down to the event during the week, I encourage you to make plans for next year.
I almost made my first ace (again) on Saturday at Fox Valley Club in Lancaster, but was glad it didn’t go in. What? That’s right, I was rooting against the ball. Let me explain. I dropped my boys off at the practice range for the junior golf program which runs 45 minutes. I think that time should be longer, but handling all of those kids (30 or so) for longer might require a different license. With the brief time, I grabbed my clubs and a cart and headed to the front 9 to play a few holes.
I started on the first as the tee was open, and quickly made a mess of the hole. Right hazard off the tee, drop, missed green, and a 2 putt for a 6. Nice start! I crushed my drive at the par 5 second, but picked up my ball because there was three groups of ahead of me on the green, 3rd tee box, and 4th hole. The 5th was open, so I headed there. I just dropped the ball where my usual drive ends up and played the par 5 in from there. This was not a round of golf, just working some holes and shots in while my kids learn to play golf from the PGA staff (John and Chris).
After completing the hole, I grabbed my 8 and 9 iron and headed to the par 3 6th hole’s tee box. It’s elevated and scenic. The view is downhill over a creek to a severely sloped green that is protected by some large trees to the left and back of the green. The creek bends around the right side of the green. The yardage is 130 to the front of the green, 138 to the middle, and 148 to the back of the green.
I never seem to get the yardage right. The shot is downhill, so it plays a little less than the yardage indicates, but not a lot less. There is usually wind or a little breeze into the shot. I’ve never played it with a helping breeze. I also rarely hit this green. I’m usually short, left of the green or long off the back. The latter two are close to dead, with bogey a happy ending.
I didn’t bother to grab my scope or set up my GPS Watch for the short jaunt around whatever holes I could get in. I didn’t walk off any yardage because I didn’t need to. The flag was in the middle left portion of the green, around 138 yards. That’s a hard PW or easy 9 for me, but as I mentioned before I hardly ever hit the green. So I decided to try an easy 8 even though I figured it was too much club.
I teed it slightly higher than my usually tee all the way down on par threes. I took what felt like a 3/4 swing (it was probably closer to full), and launched the ball high into the air. The contact was good, and the line was even better. The ball was headed right at the flagstick. No! I actually shouted that. “Not today, not now!” I was rooting against the ball, the opposite of any other shot every other time. The ball landed right on line with the cup and “click”. It hit the stick. “Please don’t be in”. I said that under my breath. I could have screamed it because nobody was around, and this wasn’t a round. If it was in the cup, it wouldn’t count. Forget about anybody believing it, it wouldn’t be valid anyway.
The sunshine and shadows from the trees impeded my view of the green, or at least clearly seeing the ball on the surface. I knew it was close, if not in. I started walking down the hill back to my cart (you can’t walk many holes in 45 minutes), and relief set in. The ball appeared just right of the flagstick. I drove over the bridge down to the green thankful (that feels weird to write) it didn’t go in. The ball mark was 4 feet from the cup, with the ball 2 feet, hole-high right. I was lucky.
-I hope you had a chance to catch the start of the Tee 2 Green tip series here on Buffalo Sports Page. Glen Oak Golf Club Pro Jeff Mietus demonstrated the proper way to hit a bunker shot. It’s the first of many to come, and we look forward to helping you improve your game. Check out the bunker shot here
-The Duster Challenge is now under a month away. This putting tournament mixes fun, competition and charity all in one. An 18 hole course is made out of the putting green in front of the club house at Fox Valley. All participants play the 18 hole course. The top 16 scores (there’s always a putt-off) make it to match play. Seeded brackets are then made for the 9 hole matches to determine the best putter in WNY. All of this happens while DJ Jimmy spins great tunes, and Brian Koziol and I announce the tournament. Food and beverages are included, and a portion of the proceeds benefit the PGA Reach Foundation. The PGA Reach Foundation and the WNY Chapter have a program to help military veterans through the game of golf. Great cause and great time. Registration is just $50, and you can sign up right here.