Golf is open in California. A major milestone for the resumption as life as we knew it has been passed. We played both Monterrey Peninsula Country Club courses-Dunes and Shore as well as Spyglass Hill. Golf course conditions are obviously excellent as the courses have been breathing and resting for the 6-8 weeks. 17 Mile Drive is closed to tourist traffic which means that only day fee players are allowed inside the drive to play at the public courses. Therefore playing during the week is a real bonus where play is fairly limited and tee times are generally 12-20 minutes apart. There are absolutely no amenities available but course management has made it as easy as possible to play despite the requirement for social distancing and absolute cleanliness. I was pleasantly surprised by the availability of some features such as take-out grill food and the availability of the driving range to warm up after hitting plastic golf balls over pool water for the past six weeks. Hand sanitizer and masks are being provided in a special “goody” bag with a scorecard, tees, a pencil and a ball marker. There are flagsticks on the greens but there are foam insets inside the cups (hole positions) so that the ball is easily removed. There have been a few disputes as to whether putts that bounced off the foam pad and out of the hole would have gone in if the cup was in its usual place. Some chip shots that might have gone in with a full cup are hitting the flagstick and bouncing out of the hall. These conditions make for a new full round of negotiations with your playing partners. Most of the players are walking but there are some carts where only one person is allowed to ride. There can be no handshakes, high-fiving and other physical tantrums on the courses now but it’s a small price to play to being able to play. Participants are generally affable and adhering to all of the rules without complaint or aggravation. For example, we found it a bit curious that the practice putting greens are closed–probably the supply of foam rubber hole inserts probably ranks second to the availability of N95 masks. One course took the cups out and opened the practice putting green with wooden markers placed in the turf. No matter, Golfers can tend to be a tedious lot and complain about many things but despite all of these restrictions (some of which are a bit mind-boggling), I heard nary a complaint from anyone this week. We are happy to be out there playing and appreciate the staffs of these clubs for creating a system in a short period of time to respect the health of its customers and employees to restore a little light during this dark period.
Corona Country Club
We’re back at the Corona Country Club where another memorable week has passed. The course is in great shape but some of the fairways have been infected with poa annua grass, which is highly undesirable. The board of directors is meeting to discuss this problem and is suggesting a $2.5 million immediate upgrade to reseed Corona’s fairways with rye grass. Shivas asked where the money will come from and the board is going to request that Mexico pay for the reseeding since they don’t have to pay Trump for the great (“beautiful”) wall separating the US and Mexico. If that attempt fails, the board is recommending that Shivas contact the US Federal Reserve who is printing a lot of money anyway. The board also took up the notion that caddies should be allowed to assist the participants of the World Match Play. After many heated discussions and rules interpretations, caddies will be allowed–particularly after the debate over whether an Opening Prayer should be part of every day’s ceremony after each national anthem of every participant is hummed. A request that this be presented by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was soundly rejected. Play is beginning to resume on the 7th hole with China/Russia 1 UP in the Match over the United States. You may recall that the United States and North Korea were playing together but that Chairman Kim was thought to be ill and went back home. Rumors are now surfacing that Kim is physically fine and is spending a lot of time in a NASCAR simulator trying to qualify for the virtual Indy 500.
Trump had prior knowledge of the caddy debate at Corona’s board of director’s meeting. It was then he decided that he would dump McConnell and have him become his caddy. Trump doesn’t actually need a caddy since he has the Tesla electric cart and McConnell doesn’t know anything about golf (some say not much of anything else but that may be too unkind) but nevertheless Mitch is His Man. Trump believes that William Barr is a big stick and has inserted him into the lineup as his teammate. Barr is a pretty big guy and Trump is uncertain of his physical stamina to walk the course so he’ll probably assign Mitch to carry Barr’s clubs. Meanwhile, Xi is scouring the world to replace his Japanese driver. Trump has placed China export restrictions on Titlelist, Taylor-Made and Calloway such that there will be no American golf technology that Xi can procure. Xi has ordered Huawei to develop a driver for him and they have delivered a prototype but Xi is nonplussed as to whether he can rely on it. Corona’s driving range is still closed pending the completion of ground water contamination examinations so Xi is unable to loosen up with the Huawel product. Putin is completely disinterested and extremely relaxed. He emerges from his shed after 12 hours of restful sleep following another bottle of vodka wearing an ELMO tee shirt. He is a secret admirer.
The 7th hole at Corona is a par 4 of 501 yards. The hole is marked with an severe elevated tee hitting down into the fairway below. The fairway is rather tight for a hole of this length with gravel and brush on the left and the forest on the right. You have to hit the tee shot 300 yards to get over the large hump in the fairway, which will feed down to the 150 yard marker. Tee shots that don’t make the hump will face little chance of reaching the green as the large bunkers guarding the green protrude from 30 yards in on both sides. Trump, grabs a brand new gutta percha which has been branded with his famous logo and rips his drive down the fairway over the hump to the 150 yard marker. He turns to his competitor Xi and says, “How did you like that one.” Shivas shakes his head and hands Xi a new gutta percha. “Play awaye Chairman Xi, keep yr eye on t.” Xi has a three wood in his hand as his Huawei driver is still sitting in quality control in their Wuhan factory. Xi’s shot is straight and true but short of the hump and rolls backward down the hill. He has 300 yards left to the green. Trump mishits an 8 iron but he still finds the green side bunker–with a smash out of the sand and two putts later, he records a bogey 5. Xi struggles with two five iron shots and the last one ends up in the back bunker, after a brief battle out of the bunker, he two putts for a 7. Barr majestically approaches the tee box and introduces himself to Shivas as the new contestant in the match. Barr mistakenly tries to shake hands with Shivas who recoils, “Mr. Barr, we’ll have nun of dat.” and Shivas, with gloves on, hands the gutta percha to Barr. Barr has McConnell on the bag. McConnell will carry the bag and place it down upon arrival to the shot–he is not allowed to touch the clubs or hand them to Barr. He is simply a bag carrier (something he really knows how to do). Barr thrashes his drive short into the left rough. Barr’s lie is precarious and fails to execute the next shot and the shot after and the shot after that. Mitch is running all over the place to track these shots but it;s a DNF (did not finish) for Barr. Putin has a big smile on his face and continues to be oblivious to the proceedings. This hole consumes him as his short tee shots cannot advance the ball far enough for him to be a factor. He holes out for a 7 and the smile on his face has disappeared. He is not happy and starting to think about his future approach to this match. Trump wins the hole for the United States and the match is now All Square.
The eighth hole at Corona is a par 6 of 721 yards and maybe the longest hole in the golfing universe. It’s a monster! The hole starts with drive that must negotiate the trees on both left and right and has the look of the 18th at Augusta. The hole then opens up to a fairway that is wider than the opening hole at the Old Course at St. Andrews. At the 200 yard marker, things get real nasty. There is a huge bunker in the middle of the fairway where most players will disappear if entered. There is a pond at the 150 marker than extends to both sides of the fairway. The green is a triple decker whereby any ball hit to the center or lower tier will row off the green–the 16th at Pasatiempo and 10th at Yale University are similar to what is going on here. Trump for the first time has the honor legitimately and flails at a drive that makes it through the thicket of trees and comes to rest about 250 yards down the left side of the fairway. Chairman Xi is up next and it’s just not going well for him as he grabs the three wood. This time he connects cleanly and the ball just makes it through the trees into the middle of the fairway about 190 yards out. Xi feels a bit renewed and chops a few five irons down the middle of the fairway and has 205 yards to the hole. The ball just stopped in front of the hideous bunker that would have consumed him. Trump is feeling cocky and loads up on a three wood–McConnell dryly states, “Mr. Trump, sir, you should lay this one up with your 5 wood.” Trump is annoyed with this advice and looks away and blasts the 3 wood into the bunker. Trump has to be lowered into the bunker with a special cable designed by Shivas who has an “i told you so,” smirk on his face. Trump peers up from the bottom of the bunker–no chance to get out–not even Gary Player could get out of this one. Trump motions to Mitch, “This is all your fault”, YOU”RE FIRED!” and Mitch turns away and heads for the clubhouse. There is no cart for him and Shivas has nothing to say but “yill ye be in a bettr place nw.” Trump is done and he records a DNF and calls it a day. However, a call has been sent out. Jared Kushner has been summoned to Corona Country Club to caddy for Trump. Kushner was previously acting as the supply chain head to ensure that there was a sufficient supply of gutta percha balls and hand sanitizer for Corona but Shivas and the board were not pleased with his performance especially when Shivas found brand new Titleist Pro VI balls among the gutta percha. We’re not sure who will replace Kushner but there is a strong possibility that Jeff Bezos will take over. With Trump out of the hole, Xi hits a few iron shots to the green avoiding all the trouble and 3 putts for a double bogey 8. Barr is on the tee and very weary of what was about to come. Barr has an awful slice and balls came crashing off the trees on the right–one ball actually stayed in the tree. It was a struggle for Barr as he powered through the entire mess avoiding the bunker but finding the pond finally recording a 10. Putin decided that this hole was far too difficult so he summoned for his horse and rode around (bare-chested-of course) the hole and recorded a DNC (did not compete). Chairman Xi wins the hole with a double bogey 8 and the match is now China/Russia 1UP over the United States.
Believe me–Jared Kushner will make a difference next week.