Golf is a competitive sport. In all of our ecstatic ramblings about the natural beauty of our courses and the camaraderie of the men and women who play on them, we sometimes forget that the purpose of the game is to post a better score than the other guy, if not to actually beat his brains in. Doubt not — we play it to win it.
That’s not to say we don’t stop to smell the roses and enjoy the magnificent scenery that makes the game so enjoyable. We also relish the companionship that’s inherent in the game. But golf courses, even in all their splendor, are fields of play. And our golfing friends, as convivial as they may be, are our competitors. We may love them like brothers or sisters, but we enjoy nothing so much as their look of dismay when we drain a long putt and close them out for the match.
This year’s golf guide was inspired by the competitive fever that swept through our panel of players while we were choosing the best 18 holes in Westchester for our “Dream 18” course (page 28). Perhaps it was our mission: to choose the “best” holes implies a contest. Perhaps there was a little blood in the water when, early in the season, I managed not to win a single skin during a round at Hudson National with Ralph A. Martinelli and Mark Maznio and had to pay double the bet. It wasn’t the $36; it was my humiliation that they relished — and dutifully reported to the rest of the panel every time we played. Regardless, we put together an issue that celebrates “the thrill of victory” if not “the agony of defeat.”
Dr. Phil Striano, who won the Ardsley CC Men’s Championship in 2010, shows us how to put our bodies into winning shape (page 6). Brian Crowell, head professional at GlenArbor GC and author of Slice-Free Golf (full disclosure: I edited Brian’s book), gives us some invaluable tips for banishing the dreaded score-wrecking banana ball (page 12). And Dan Berger introduces us to three foursomes who play together all the time, but never let their friendship stand in the way of a little wager and some serious trash talk (page 38).
Several players on our panel really got their competitive juices flowing as we worked on this issue. Tom Ralph teamed up with Ralph Martinelli to win the Westchester Hills Two-Day Member-Member. Martinelli also competed in the club championship for the first time and made it to the semifinals, while Tom Ralph celebrated his first year as a member by winning the Senior Club Championship. And I simply must mention that Ralph Wimbish and I joined forces to win the MGA Senior Men’s Net Four Ball championship in 2010, defeating a field of 80 or so players from all over the New York area at Scarsdale CC.
Inspired? Grab your clubs and put your game face on. Your opponents are waiting on the first tee.