By David Owen
On the day after Income Tax Day, the weather in the Northeast turned vindictive, and my golf course -- which had been back in operation for less than a week -- disappeared under two inches of snow and ice. I had to travel that day, so I couldn't have played anyway, but I still felt bullied.
The weather is going to have to win my trust back one day at a time, beginning this afternoon (assuming I can finish a couple of things I'm supposed to be working on). Still, I have less reason to be upset than Mike Reilly, a reader and a member of the World's Second-Best Golf Club, whose first trip to the Masters, on practice-round Monday, was rained out after two hours. "Their rain-out policy is better luck next year,' he wrote from a motel room in Augusta (the club offered refunds). "I understand why it is that way, but that was a long way to drive to watch eight guys tee off No. 1."
While the weather was misbehaving, several of my friends conducted an email debate about the Sunday Morning Group's hole-in-one policy, which Hacker (real name) implemented a couple of years ago. We collect $15 a man on Sundays, and three of those dollars go into the S.M.G. Slush Fund, with which we pay for things like community service, international relief efforts, and bottle openers. The Slush Fund also underwrites the S.M.G. hole-in-one prize, which is $500 if the hole-in-one occurs during our regular Sunday game, and $250 if it occurs during a sanctioned S.M.G. event on a different day or time. (A sanctioned event is any round of golf that the whole group knows about in advance, including the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday versions of our regular Sunday game.)
No one has ever won the $500 prize, and only Reese has won the $250 prize (which he spent on drinks for everyone -- see photo above). That means that, by now, the hole-in-one prize is probably over-endowed, at least in theory. David W. asked whether a hole-in-one on our ninth hole (a short par 4, which long hitters occasionally reach from the tee) would count. The answer to that one was yes, of course. Then Fritz asked about holing out on No. 2 (a par 4) with your tee shot on No. 7 (a par 3). The second green is slightly closer to the seventh tee than the seventh green is, although the shot is probably tougher, because there are pine trees in the way. Addison said he thought the shot ought to count as long as it was a genuine shank. In other words, you can't just aim for it. Further study.
Meanwhile, the wind on Monday was so strong that it peeled the moss right off a stump:
It also sent Hacker's pushcart rolling into a bunker and tipped it over. (Maybe there should be a prize for that, too.)