Golf is a lonely game. Let me correct that – competitive golf is a lonely game! Most of my competitive golf career has been spent playing in individual tournaments. And that is just how the game is. Golf is not known as a team sport. It’s not like football or baseball or basketball. Grinding away on the range by yourself is lonely. And you’ve got nobody to blame for a bogey but yourself. But when it is played as a team sport in such competitions as the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup, we get to see some unbelievable golf with such passion from players that are normally very stoic! They are playing for their team and their countries, something we as golfers rarely, if ever, do.
Best Ball / Better Ball / Four-Ball?
I mean how many times have you watched the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup and thought, “Why do you call it a four-ball anyway?” Most people know it as “best ball” or “better ball.” But, I’m sure some old Scottish curmudgeon who was half in the bag after his day on the links decided to call it a four-ball and confuse everyone. Leave it to the Scottish, who have been credited with the reason for golf having 18 holes (because there were 18 shots in a bottle of scotch – which will also leave you very confused if you were to go out and give this a try). And, as American golf’s lovable character John Daly once said, “If the Scots only had 14 shots in a bottle of scotch, I might have 14 majors.” Sorry the Scots and Scotch have me going down a rabbit hole…
In a match play competition, a four-ball consists of two teams of players competing directly against each other. All four golfers play their own ball throughout the round rather than alternating shots, and each hole is won by the team whose member has the lowest score. Four years ago, the USGA came up with the wonderful idea to have a National Four-Ball tournament and hence the writing of this post.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT AND LEGAL DISCLAIMER: DO NOT TRY TO DRINK 18 SHOTS OF SCOTCH IN 18 HOLES.
Now that my lawyers will be satisfied, I’m back to the task at hand.
A Snapshot of Golf Through My Years
Some of my fondest memories of my competitive golf career were as a member of my high school team in Tifton, Georgia, and as a member of the University of Georgia golf team. Celebrating a win like the SEC Championship or NCAA National Championship is that much sweeter when you have gone through the battle with your team or, at minimum, another player.
So, when I gained my amateur status back and started to contemplate playing a few competitive events, I couldn’t help but think of maybe, one day, playing in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. Even the thought of member-guests excited me because what sport or competition isn’t more fun when you can share it with somebody else…..
So when my good buddy Stuart Moore and I qualified for the U.S. Four-Ball last October, I was pretty excited. Then we had to wait almost 7 months until we made the trip down to Jupiter, Florida, to compete against 128 other top teams from around the country. The championship was to be contested on a course I had never heard of – Jupiter Hills Club. I had no clue the 1987 U.S. Amateur had been held there. Sorry Billy Mayfair (that year’s champion). But, let me tell you, it was a very special place! The clubhouse was awesome, situated at the highest point on the property overlooking the grounds, the food was second to none, and the course and conditions were national championship worthy.
Having said all that, the weather didn’t want everything to be too perfect because it basically rained for 6 straight days while we were there and made the golf even more demanding than it normally would have been. And thank goodness the Fazios were given a sand dune to build the course upon because, if not, we might still be down there trying to complete the championship!! I believe the Jupiter area received close to 13 inches of rainfall (don’t quote me on that, but it was a lot!) over the two week stretch of the U.S. Four-Ball. My rain gear had not seen that much use since 2005! But we persevered and finished at 4 under for two days of qualifying to finish with the 17th seed going into match play.