Deeply involved in promoting golf for years, Dennis Young listened while other members of the Arkansas State Golf Association board discussed eliminating alternate shot competition from the Father-Son Tournament.
Six holes per day of alternate shot is too difficult maintained some players, who preferred nine holes of four-ball and nine holes of scramble.
Can’t drop alternate shot, Young said. “That’s where all the stories come from,” said the former ASGA Board president from Texarkana who has played the tournament with sons Rob and Mark more than 20 times, including the year he did morning-afternoon with one and afternoon-morning with the other in searing heat.
Young is so right.
Every tournament participant has one or more alternate shot tale — an experience so painful at the time that it can squelch golf cart conversation for a bit, but a surefire source of yucks when revisited in the years ahead.
For example, I’m certain to recall a 10 recorded last week at Chenal Country Club. Two visits to a hazard, plus a whiff and a topped shot, add up fast.
The team’s 70-something is burdened by low and left tee shots and the legitimate talent doesn’t play six rounds per year. Even so, the father somehow thought the team could be competitive.
That pipe dream lasted until the 10th hole and the big number hurt worse when a tee shot that was abandoned without a search was found in plain view a few yards from the fairway, only two decent shots from the green. Some positives the final eight holes helped subdue the anguish of the 10, but ASGA Executive Director Jay revived the topic the next morning. Smiling, he mentioned the score was two shots better than another team, setting up his punch line: “But they had a 15 handicap,” knowing that our handicap was about a dozen strokes less.
Recently, the ASGA softened the alternate shot format, allowing father and son to tee off on each of the six holes. Previously, two tee shots were designated for the father, two for the son, and two for both. As a result, some discussed strategies were downright weird and, often, the post-mortem was equally strange.
For example, Fox and his dad were contending almost 40 years ago when Norris was up on No. 15 at Pine Bluff Country Club. With a large pond right and out of bounds left, dad worried. Jay reminded his father that he had hit his three-wood solidly, but the left-handed Norris opted to play safe with an iron and his shank O.B. led to an eight.
In retrospect, Norris said, he should have taken driver, lined up way right, and whacked the tee shot into the water. Then, he reasoned, Jay could have dropped a ball, hit over the water and onto the green, and they would have had a par putt.
Forgotten is the name of the man so intimidated by a father-specific tee shot that he couldn’t pull the trigger. Whiff it, his son suggested. What? Just miss it, I’ll hit the tee shot into the fairway, you can knock it on the green, and we’ll have a par putt, the son explained.
At Chenal, the first wait of the second round occurred on No. 15, site of a long-ago fiasco.
That year, terrified of going from a bunker into a creek, the father took too much sand and was peeved when the ball remained in the trap. His son’s shot was superb, but dad was tentative with the bogey putt.
Our playing partners asked our score.
“Double bogey six,” I said.
Nope, the offspring said, “We had eight. I’m popping dad two strokes for grounding his club in the sand while the ball was still in the bunker.”
Guilty as charged.
After posting 76-75 last week, we picked up the treasured team pictures and headed for the parking lot where I apologized for poor play.
“That’s not what this is about,” my son said.
Sports Columnist Harry King can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org