The Rose Factor: The Second Season

When the summer golf season ends just north of Labor Day, I start to look forward to my favorite time of year, Fall, with temperatures in that perfect 65-75 range and the beautiful colors of the trees and the lush renewed growing in the fairways and reens. In golf, I call it the “Second Season”, a second chance to salvage the competitive tournament season with a ton of great events at some of the area’s best golf courses and some great road trips around the country. So hop aboard the Rose Factor Express, fasten your seat belt, and enjoy the ride with me as I hit the road in the “Second Season.”

Tuesday, September 26
My first stop on the road to redemption starts just up 1-95 North, to I-195 East, to Jackson, New Jersey and the beautiful 27-hole Robert Trent Jones design at Metedeconk National. One of Jones’ best, Metedeconk annually hosts a 27-hole medal play invitational for some 80-100 top mid-ams and senior ams from over 20 states. The players arrive around 7:30AM, enjoy a delicious breakfast, hit some balls and shot-gun off at 9AM. Players get lunch at different times, as they finish #9, #18 or #27, all you can load into your cart. At days end, prizes are awarded to the winners, with open bar and a luscious appetizer buffet. As usual, as I chewed up too much food, the course chewed me up. But I did manage to hole out a wedge from 120 yards on #8 for the day’s only eagle. Considering how much I ate during the day, not too bad. My diet starts tomorrow.

September 28

It’s truly heaven on earth, as I head to the world’s #1 golf course, Pine Valley Golf Club and their annual Crump Cup Invitational. What a field, the top national names in mid- amateurs and seniors. It’s really an honor to be among them all. I drive out to the practice range to hit a few balls and am happy to see my old friend Davis Sezna, playing his first Crump in six years. Over to the right is a Philly am champ, over there, two Walker Cuppers and last year’s US Mid-Am champ. Ho hum, and then there’s me. No pressure.


I start out with the old “4-over after 3 holes” start, not what you want to do at PV. As darkness sets in, I grind in with a 79, middle of the senior pack. A quick shower and its dinner at the Dormie House, the annual Thursday Bar-BQ. It’s great to see many familiar faces and meet the new invitees. Well, so much for the diet.



September 29

I’m off early on Friday, hoping to improve my score and qualify for championship flight or at worst, make the second flight of 8. A 3-putt to start on #10, followed by a 20-footer for par. Incredibly, I hole out another shot for eagle 2, this time with a 9-iron on #17. That’s 2 eagles in 3 rounds. Impressive, almost. I finish 8-5-5 for another 79 and just sneak into the second flight.


With dinner only 6 hours away, seven of us head out to Pine Valley’s Short Course, a 10-hole, par-3 course with holes replicated from the regular 18. A great place to play for a few bucks and have some laughs. Chet Walsh and Annie Cuttrell pick the sides and we’re off. Good shots and bad, big swings in the match, our side finishes up $3. As the sun sets, there’s a playoff in the senior flight, then the annual sit-down dinner. Great food and camaraderie, topped off with great jokes from Mike Thorpe, Norm Swenson and as always, the topper from renowned story-teller Davis Sezna. As the song goes, nobody does it better.


September 30

It’s time for match play, and I get former Crump Cup winner A. Harcourt Kemp, a friend to all and one of the great gentlemen of the game. Harcourt takes the early lead but his putting lets him down and my 13 pars in 16 holes wins me the match 3 & 2. I live to play another round on Sunday at Pine Valley.

October 1

I get another former Crump senior winner in the morning semis, Andres Palandjoglou. Down one after one, the rains come and play is halted. After an hour, PV GM Charley Raudenbush rules that all flights will now play an 18-hole medal to decide the winners, teeing off at noon on the back nine. Another lucky break for the Rose Factor as a 36-hole day might be too much for me, no doubt it would have been for my caddie Ernie, whose gas tank was already below empty.


Besides Andres and myself, our group includes 2-time British Senior Am champ Joel Hirsch and 2-time US Senior Am champ and local legend, O. Gordon Brewer. I take the early lead with 37 on the front, but a quick 6-6 brings me back to the pack. Joel and I hit it stiff on #8 for birdies and my lead is 1. I get lucky with my drive on the last, just avoiding the trees. A big hooking 5-iron lands just right, 20 feet from the cup, and I hold on for a 76 to win the flight.
Crump Cup Post Script


As always, great players win top honors, Carlton Forrester with a 72 in the Mid-Am and Randy Reifers with a 71 in the Seniors. But the beauty of the Crump is the battles in the lower flights. How about the 3rd flight that had Walker Cuppers Trip Kuehne and Buddy Marucci, along with local stars Michael McDermott, Chris Lange and Chet Walsh? And the 4th flight runner-up was 2005 US Mid-Am champ Austin Eaton. Did I mention the great awards ceremony buffet? Diet starts tomorrow.



Weekend of October 6-8

Normally, the fall golf season would continue with the Harold Cross Invitational at Philadelphia Cricket Club, where Mid-Ams and Seniors would play both the classic Tillinghast design and the new Hurdzan-Fry course. But Sally and I are off to beautiful Los Gatos, California, just south of San Jose, for the annual get-together of my fraternity group, “the Better Boys”. Bob Malman’s son Josh is to be married, so it’s time for another wild and crazy meeting of the brothers. Weather is 80 and sunny,(as opposed to the rain and cold at Cricket), a gorgeous outdoor wedding at sunset, and of course, great food. Diet to start anew on Monday.


Thursday October 12

Always a fun day at the North Hills Invitational, a 1-day better-ball with Philmont partner Brian Rothaus, and we’re defending champs. Another eat-a-thon, with big buffet brunch of burgers, dogs, chicken and hot roast beef sandwiches. Brian and I shoot par 71, to finish in a 7-way tie for 2nd, win $42 in the pro shop. Consolation is the open bar, seafood buffet and giant dessert station. There goes the diet again.



October 13-14

How good is this golf tour! It’s time for the Bud Lewis Invitational at Manufacturers, another of my favorite William Flynn courses. Always in great shape with greens that are smooth and very fast. My partner is Steve Lucas, father-in-law and caddie of 2005 PGA Rookie of the Year Sean O’Hair. It’s been a long year for Steve, so he’s just happy to be playing. Steve is a crowd favorite, regaling all with stories from the tour, his friendships with Tiger Woods and Steve Williams, the inside scoop on Phil, Vijay, tour caddies and much more. And of course, there’s Bud Lewis himself, the legendary 94-year-old pro, telling great stories of Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, Hogan, Snead and more. The golf wasn’t very good, but sometimes, that’s not always the most important thing.



Thursday October 19

It’s wasn’t a tournament, but it always feels like it is when you tee it up where golf history has been made by the likes of Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Lee Trevino. It’s hard to top Merion East. Thanks to good friend and Merion member Carl Everett, I’ve brought out friends Scott Krasny and Bob Lutz for their first round at the hallowed East Course. It’s a beautiful 72 degree day and the course is perfect as always. Carl really has it going, rolling in 5 birdies. Scott and Bob are finding that Merion’s tough rough and fast greens can make breaking 90 a difficult goal. After a slow start, I rally on the back 9, and finish by rolling in a 50 footer from the front fringe for a birdie on #18, an all-time first for me, and shoot 71 to tie Carl. Some after-golf drinks and food top off another memorable day at Merion. What a treat!


October 23-26

It’s road trip time again as Sally and I head to Charleston, South Carolina for our third straight year at the Yeamans Hall Senior Invitational. Charleston in the Fall is just beautiful and Yeamans is one of Seth Raynor’s best designs from the early 20’s, a true classic par-70, with huge tough greens, a course where you can hit every green in regulation and still shoot a bunch. Sally and I never miss their buffet breakfast, maybe the best anywhere, with fresh squeezed OJ and grapefruit juice, eggs benedict and southern style french toast just for starters. It’s another strong field, with 90 of the nation’s best seniors. I play decently, with 75-76 the first two days. For the final round shotgun, the scores dictate that, at 151, you have Mike Rose, Mike Nixon, Mike Mahoney and 2005 US Senior AM champ Mike Rice, playing together. It’s the 4-Mikes together, the only 4 Mikes in the tournament, what are the odds? My goal for the day is to not be the highest scoring Mike, not an easy task. During the round, we hear cat calls from all over the course, “How ya doing Mike?, go get ‘em Mike, nice shot Mike”. I end up birdieing #17 and #18 to shoot 72 and tie Mike Rice for “low Mike”, and tie for 15th. I’ll take it.



November 5-9

My golf gas tank is running low. I’ve had a pretty good year since finding my swing in early July at the Lynnewood Hall at Huntingdon Valley. I’m hoping I can hang in for the last big national senior event, the Society of Seniors Dale Morey at Quail Ridge in Boynton Beach, Florida. I know that Sally and I will have fun, as we’re staying with David and Dona Brookreson as guest of HVCC friend and 2005 Philly Senior Am champ Craig Scott. There are 100 Seniors and 100 Super Seniors playing, probably the best senior field anywhere except maybe the USGA Seniors.


My goal for the week is to shoot 289(+1), an achievable number on two courses that are conducive to birdies, past winners have shot 6-8 under par. I start out well shooting 72, and hang in with 73 in round two, and both could have been much better. The leaders are at 5-under. The old Rose appears in round 3, as I shoot 77. No better in the final round, as Brooky and I, and our third, John Dennis, all shot 78, 299 total, to finish 27th, very disappointing for all of us. The winner is Rick Woulfe at 282(-6). Philly super senior Charley McClaskey shoots his age(67) to win the 65+ division. Way to go Chuck!


It’s been another good second season, some great trips and much too much food. Time to head home and get back to work, and do I ever need to get back on that diet!



EPILOGUE

The Fall weather in Philly has been remarkably good, temperatures ranging from the mid 50’s to the 70’s in November and December. So good in fact, that I just had to go play in some of the FDS Winter League events. With the Nov. 27 event scheduled at Philmont’s North course, I can’t pass on the opportunity to use my local knowledge. I call PGA pro Andy Barbin, the pro from Chesapeake Bay and founder of the VICTORY GOLF PASS, to join me for the Better-Ball event. We shot gun off #16, I make two good pars, then birdie #18. Andy, after two horrible shots on #1, holes his third shot from 70 yards for an unexpected birdie. We’re on our way. Andy makes one more birdie, I make 3 more, shoot 68 on my own ball, and we shoot 65 to win the event, beating the likes of Philly Open champ Dave Quinn and PGA Player of the Year, Rich Steinmetz. Not bad for an old guy. The second season is now officially done.

 

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