Caddy for Hire

This last weekend I had the pleasure to caddy for Dexter in his first ‘real’ golf tournament.  I say ‘real’ because this was a tournament of the best players in the state, 36-holes on a very difficult course.  He’s getting some good experience playing for his High School team for the first time this year, but 9-hole tournaments on slow greens doesn’t quite compare to what we had this weekend.

The new Palouse Ridge course at WSU was incredible.   Although playing short for the tournament (6200 yards), the greens were lightning fast and holding the greens with an approach shot was a huge challenge.   Dexter’s play was amazing.  He shot 84-85 over the two rounds and although that was not competitive with the top players in the state, it was incredible for his first big tournament of his career.  It was a pleasure to caddie for him.  He stayed focused every moment of the tournament.  He was hitting huge drives right down the middle consistently and displaying a touch in his short game I have never seen.  He nearly holed-out two bunker shots!  He never gave up, even doing amazing things like draining a 25 foot putt for double-bogie on a hole.  That may not be the leading story he would want to share, but it showed how even when a hard hole got the best of him, he never gave up, lost his temper or his focus.

His short game was incredible totalling up 11 1-putt greens for the weekend helping him stay in the hunt as it was very hard to keep the ball on the rock-hard greens.

A great highlight was #3 on the 2nd day that had the pin tucked way over on the left side of the green.  Huge bunkers and a huge cliff on the left side of the green made it impossible to go at the pin.  Dex had the great insight to not just hit to the right side of the green, but to hit it toward the very far right of the green, catch a kicker slope and let the ball feed all the way over.  He hit a perfect 6-iron that, as-planned, took the slope, ran through the green, to a hill behind the green, then kicking violently to the left and feeding down to the tiny left part of the green cozying up to 10 feet from the pin.  We had all sorts of great moments like that.  Working out distances, club selection and mostly me sitting on a hill next to the green (caddies weren’t allowed on the green surface) pumping my fist as he dropped another clutch putt.

A lot of work – hauling the clubs up and down those big hills and also working with Dexter on being a good caddie (yes, we had a few holes of discontent where we were not on the same page with club selection and distances).  Overall though, we worked very well together and really enjoyed the two days.  Nina took the photos as she followed along with us. Photos are here.  Unfortunately we never got a chance to really enjoy the WSU campus as the time we spent playing (6-hour rounds) and working on the driving range and putting green took up all of our time.

I never got a tip. Maybe next time.

Michigan 2011

Been a while since I’ve posted anything here – but due to Chelan’s prodding I’m going to start writing again.  I’m mid-way through my sabbatical so I have very little reason to not have the time.

The annual Michigan trip is done.  Nina and I are back home, Chelan is at Purdue and the countdown to Dexter starting High School is underway.  It was a complex trip this year.  Dex, Nina and I, Zach and Layne all flew to Chicago then drove to Madison to drop them off for Nina/Layne’s annual camping trip.  Dex and I fit in a round of golf at the UW course, then Dex and I drove up to the UP, across the Macinac bridge and to the Boyne Highlands resort to drop Dexter off at his week-long golf camp.  Then after a slow trip down the state, playing a round of golf in Gaylord, I arrived drove down to the house.  Nina and the kids arrived the following day and Chelan also arrived flying into Grand Rapids.   Then a few days later Chelan and I drove all the way back up to the top of the state to pick up Dexter from camp and drive him home.  Then, the next week a 2-day trip to Chicago to see Taylor Swift and see Nina and the kids off (kids to Madison, Nina to teaching gig in SF).  After that Dex, Chelan and I drove back to Michigan for a few more days of relaxing and the arrival of the Elephants for some golf.  Then finally home.

In the end, I drove the equivalent of circumnavigating Lake Michigan 2 times I think.  Ok, enough about the pain and suffering.  Trip highlights:

  • Dexters Camp:  Wins the golf tournament and gets a hole-in-one on the par 3 course – wow, what more do you want??
  • Paddleboard:  We rented a paddleboard for the first time and found it to be a huge asset to beach activities.  Waves up – body/boogie-board surfing.  Waves down – paddleboarding
  • The Lake:  We experienced all types of Lake Michigan personality.  multiple days of high winds – almost too dangerous to swim in (2 people died up at Saugatuck Oval beach during the winds causing a lot of search-and-rescue helicopters and a C130 to fly up and down the beach front).  Complete flat waveless lake water for multiple days.  Very warm, very enjoyable water temperatures – and also a day where you could not put your foot in the lake for more than 30 seconds without pain shooting up your leg.  Also a great lightning storm when we first arrived capture in photos.
  • Nina and I get engaged on the beach just as the sun set on a clear evening.  I popped the question – she said yes.  What else could be more perfect.
  • Dune Scooners:  Took everyone on the Saugatuck Dune Scooner rides.  Same as it has been for the last 40 years.  Still learn something new and it did provide us with a great group shot of our new hybrid family.
  • Regular, traditional activities:  Cider donuts, laying on the beach, golf, movie in Holland, shopping in Saugatuck, visits with Pier Cove neighbors, seeing 9 wild-turkeys in the front yard, Nina, Layne and Zach got to exsperience the Art Barn,  my normal crazy allergic reactions to the mold/pollen that is omni-present,  annual Ravine meeting, etc.  Somehow we escaped Craigs Cruzers this year – yeah!!!
  • Taylor Swift:  Nina and I chaperone Layne and Chelan to the TS concert in Chicago.  Very exciting and impressive show.  I have to say that I was fully engaged in the show despite my role as chaperone.  Chelan was of course crazed.  Surprised she didn’t just black out.
  • Go Pro:  Dexter brought his Go-Pro video camera and we capture the first shots of boogie-boarding the Michigan surf.  The super-wide angle lens sort of makes the waves seem not that big, but it does capture the experience of the constant wave activity that batters you as you in the surf.  Videos up here.
  • Elephants:  Mark F and Steve made it up this year.  A short trip but a nice time with just one foursome of me, Dex and them.  We played the Ravines (course conditions disappointing) and a brand new course called Macatawa Legends in Holland that was formerly private and now opened up for public play.  It did not disappoint.  We dodged storms in the morning to just fit in 18 holes – well almost 18 holes as we had to pick up our balls on the 18th fairway as a wall cloud came baring down on us (photo).  Chelan and Christine came with us on both rounds, riding in their own cart, taking photos and filming our silliness.  Chelan promises to have a nice video for us in the future which I will post a link here too.

At the end of this trip the same question is always at the forefront.  It is almost impossible for me health-wise to stay there for more that 2 weeks due to my allergies.  How much is it the old house, or just the midwest?  Will we ever build a new place on the empty lot on the lake?  Will we retire there?  Still open questions.  But, it is a bad time to discuss this as I’m still feeling the effects 4 days after getting home.  Overall still a great trip.

As always lots of photos:  http://andysimonds.smugmug.com/Vacation/Michigan/Michigan-2011/18356145_WP4B9F

This photo in particular made the Explore page of Flickr which always is a joy:

Even though we go to the same beach everyday I always find it a good challenge to create a new, unique shot.  Tired of normal sunsets, I sent Dexter out on the paddleboard to pose as an interesting foreground object.  I quickly found that it was easier for me to have him just stay in one spot, and for me to move along the beach to get the right composition, rather than trying to get him to paddle the places I wanted him to be.  In the end a great shot.

Until next year.