Last Saturday dawned with cerulean blue skies stretching as far as the eye could see, zero humidity and a light, beautiful breeze. I think you’ll agree it was nothing short of gorgeous. In my book, there is no better way to spend such a picture-perfect day than out on the golf course. Which is exactly where my co-workers Brian Golden, Pat Newell and I were on the beautiful morning in question.
With my friend Julie Gates rounding out our foursome, we were one of 33 teams to enter the Brandi Estelow Nursing Scholarship Fund tournament at Blue Stone Golf Course in Oxford.
Do the quick math and you’ll realize that translates into roughly 130 golfers on the course. Which is why it may very well have been the longest round of golf in the history of man. Just over 6 1/2 hours, if I recall correctly. Not that we minded, though, because it was an absolute blast.
Thankfully, I had lots of sunscreen with me, not to mention a cooler filled with cold libations. (All purchased on premises, thank you very much.)
Because the turnout was so high, we were sent out in eight-somes. I’m not sure that is actually a word, but it definitely accomplished what it was intended to. Everyone moved at a good pace, with little to no waiting. And, perhaps most importantly, everyone made it out alive, since you had more than just your teammates to chat with.
Our other half - better half, really - consisted of four fabulous ladies from the Sherburne area: Dena, Laurie, Pam and Kathy. (All of whose names I have probably spelled wrong, by the way.) They were all phenomenal golfers, and quickly put us to shame. Well, at least they put Brian, Julie and I to shame. Pat rocks.
I really shouldn’t sell our little Evening Sun team short, though. We each contributed some good shots, and worked really well together as a whole. Although, we did gang up on Brian a little bit. But, hey, he should be used to that by now. Right, newbie?
As I mentioned, Pat was nothing short of phenomenal all day. (The lousy show off!) But we ladies held our own, too.
I started out with some great drives which, thanks to the advantage from the women’s tees, put us in good shape. And just when I started to flag – which, incidentally, coincided with the emptying of the cooler – the token non-ES staffer hit her stride.
Julie was once an avid player, but a few years ago she suffered a back injury. As a result, she packed up her clubs. It’s a testament to her support of the Estelow/Diamond/Mack family that she pulled them out on Saturday. (And I know she paid dearly for it for a few days afterward.)
She was a bit rusty when we started out. But once she warmed up – wow!
I can pinpoint the moment, actually, when It was on the 14th hole which, since we started on 9, was our sixth of the day. (We won’t talk about how long it took us to get there.)
Pat had put us on the green with a terrific chip shot, but we were still 12 to 13 feet from the hole. Mentally, I was already counting it as a par, thinking it would take us two more strokes to get it in.
My short game leaves much to be desired even on the best of days, and therefore I was first up. The theory being that I would show my teammates “the line.” Unfortunately, my speed was way off, so my attempt didn’t have its desired effect.
Julie was next, and she showed them the line, all right. By holing it.
Of course, we were jubilant. We were still celebrating both the putt and the corresponding birdie when I plucked her ball out of the cup.
I couldn’t help notice it wasn’t the one she had been using before. No, this one was a Titleist, emblazoned with the Tropicana logo.
That’s right. She’d brought out “The Juice.”
Julie doesn’t remember how this fortuitous find ended up in her bag, so I’m forced to assume it was fate which brought us all together at that particular moment in time. But it was exactly what we needed.
From there on out, Julie and the Juice were there for us whenever we were in a bind. It seemed like whenever we needed a shot to save our butts, either Pat or the Juice was there. Which is how we ended up an amazing 8 under par going to our 18th hole, number 8.
(I know, I can’t believe it either!)
By this point, I was pretty much out of steam. I’d even managed to hit a backwards shot trying to chip up on 2, which I may never live down. I was definitely ready for the round to be over.
Now number 8, with its sloping green, is not my favorite hole on the course. Pat’s drive had put us in decent shape, and we were putting, but just barely. You can probably guess who got to go first. Yep, moi.
I’d already been told I shouldn’t have had that extra bowl of Wheaties, but that didn’t stop me from hitting it way to hard, yet again. But to everyone’s surprise, including my own, it came back, coming to a rest about 2 1/2 to 3 feet below and a little to the left of the cup.
Even more amazing was that after my teammates had taken their turns, mine was the best. Shocking, I know.
Again, I stepped up to make another half-hearted attempt to show my compatriots the line. And, yes, again I was off – too hard and this time, a little to the left.
But then, something truly amazing happened. The ball, which we thought had come to rest, started rolling again. This time directly toward the hole. It slowed, then rolled a little more, and then – wonder of wonders – it dropped in the cup.
There was sort of a stunned silence as we all tried to comprehend what just happened. And then the celebration began.
I thought about it again after we returned to the clubhouse, and learned that the tournament had raised $3,577 toward the Brandi Estelow Nursing Scholarship. (The organizers were hoping for $1,000.)
I never had the privilege of meeting Brandi before her life was cut so tragically short by mesothelioma. But I couldn’t help feel that she had been out there with us all day, and how happy she must have been to see so many community members come out to support this cause in her memory. It made me feel so good to be a part of it in some small way.
Silently, I thanked her for helping me make that last putt.
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