Hats off to my friends at Williamsport Country Club. The 2022 Member-Guest was a fantastic tournament. Sweet gifts. Super fun format. And the smoked alligator on rye was off the charts. I want to thank my good chum Billy Keiser for another invite. I didn’t offer much help this weekend, but I had a splendid time. Sir William carried us again this year. While I did my very best to stay away from the transfusions, I constantly found the deep rough. I am still searching for my swing kids; perhaps my best golf is already gone. I peaked at 29. Humbug.
We played five nine-hole matches with the other teams in our group. Bill and I were in the first flight. They added up each player’s USGA handicap to find a home. How are you a 9, Spencer? The guys didn’t really say much after a few holes. They actually invited me to play more. Each hole was worth one tally. The best overall team also got a point — ten possible for each session. You played your own ball, and you could actually concede putts. Come on, Ray. I am laying six. Can I pick it up?
We were paired with many great players, and I am honored to call them my buds. Matt Gartner and his father were the best dressed. Mr. Gartner is 83 years young, and he routinely shoots his age. What a stud. Larry Allison Jr and Fred O’Dell like to fish. I enjoyed our conversations that had nothing to do with golf. Louie Mazzante teed it with a great-looking guy who lives near the Orange line. Basketball and coaching were the main topics. We were on fire. Uncle Ray Wheeland and William Byrne can still shape the ball. This dynamic duo absolutely smoked us. Mr. Byrne actually made my weekend when he said he reads my column in the Webb Weekly. Greg Wheeland and Davey Person were the two youngsters in our group. Good dudes that I have known for a long time. But when did they learn how to play golf? They are both out, driving me by 50 yards. I liked it better when they were 12.
Bill and I finished in the middle of the pack. Nothing to brag about as it is more the camaraderie these days and not the bad golf. Well, that’s what I told myself after every missed putt. Young Wheeland and Person nipped Ray Wheeland and Byrne in the last match to claim the First flight crown. The kids who graduated from Loyalsock High were solid and advanced to the Saturday afternoon shootout with the nine other winning squads. Great turnout this year. Ten flights. Impressive.
Two other wildcards also made the cut. The team with the highest point total who didn’t win their flight and us. Yes. Billy and I somehow found a way after scoring the most tallies in our final match. It was beautiful. We still had a shot. We tied Ed Alberts and his longtime partner and were forced to chip off. Thankfully Keiser stuck one tight, and we prevailed. Everyone is now headed to the 15th tee — a tricky 165-yard uphill par 3. I was so nervous.
Twelve teams remained, but several were eliminated after the first round. Alternate shot is a different animal, especially when there is a massive crowd. Good players played from the blues, and the elders moved forward. My guy Chad Fabian swung and missed. Four teams made par, and we went back to the box. My man Keiser sure knows how to putt. My ball found the bunker, and everyone else missed the green. I was just happy I didn’t end up at Sheetz. It was rather ugly, but we somehow made bogey to survive. Greg Wheeland and Davey Person did the same. Tim Conklin and Mike Kutney missed a downhiller, and we had to go back to round three. The natives were restless, and I had to pee. Billy snap hooked one in the high grass, and I had absolutely no shot. Davey hit a solid first putt, and Greg tapped in for par. They were the 2022 OVERALL Member Guest Champs.
“This was my third time playing with Davey in this fun format,” Greg Wheeland said. “We were in third place after Friday. We rallied and really played well on Saturday. Davey was the man. He held things together when I had to go home to rescue our family cat. Kobe got loose. Davey played solo for three holes when I was organizing a neighborhood watch. The flight came down to the final two holes against Ray Wheeland and William Byrne. They had a slight lead, but Davey and I played some solid ham and egg golf. Great tournament.”
Thanks again for the memories, as I look forward to this outing every year. My game still suffers, but I continue to enjoy the interactions with my friends. I have a very long history with WCC. I caddied there when I was a youngster and played in several Invitationals. Playing a few holes with Greg and Davey is what it is all about. Good times. Awesome course. The next stop on my Return to Bad Golf tour is Emporium Country Club. Another Member-Guest, as I am so blessed to have so many chums. Fairways and greens. Cheers.