Longs Drugs Challenge 2006-Danville CA

My player this week is Kim Saiki

Sunday: A nondescript week off preceded my trip to sunny California. Hung out at Chad’s place in Columbus, purchased a couple pieces of luggage, visited relatives up in Cleveland and generally chilled out the rest of the time enjoying my new ride.

A restless evening (waiting for that 4:00 AM alarm to discharge) was followed by a smooth and on time Continental flight with a connection through Houston. Picked up “Bostonian Ralph” at the BART station in Dublin and we were in our rented townhouse by early afternoon. We’re as close to the course as one can get with all amenities within walking distance.

  • The course; Walked the front nine and it’s difficult to find the proper adjectives to delineate what I found, but let me give it a go. Nightmarish, abomination, Frankensteinian and Billy goatish are just a few choice morsels that should be bandied about without having to bleep out what many of us really think. Some of the climbs are so steep and treks between greens and tees so long, ounce around by any spectator will be enough. On top of that, it’s not in very good shape and the back nine is alleged to be a much worse walk! I thought our three years in Augusta GA was a tough road to hoe but this track has it beat. Plenty of alcohol will be consumed to ease the pain this week (so what’s new) even though we will be afforded numerous cart rides.

The second hole will be quite a conundrum for many even though it will play on the short side. A downhill tee shot is followed by an uphill approach but a humongous tree (looks like an oak) blocks all but the shortest and longest tee balls. Most players will find themselves dead behind it and impossible to circumnavigate. I jokingly suggested a chainsaw rental to one trio of players and had no shortage of takers.

With all the moaning and groaning, aching feet, knees and hips the fact still remains, someone will be taking home a pile of cash and her caddie will find this his favorite course all year. Hope it’s me.

Monday: They were right. The back nine will take your breath away and plant you six feet under if  carrying the sack all the way around was mandatory. I waited for the pro-am to finish, started on the eleventh to avoid the log jam on the tenth tee and accompanied the twosome of Natalie Gulbis and Morgan Pressel. It was perfect timing as a ride from every green to the next tee was an absolute necessity. In fact, the eleventh green to twelve tee was the longest and steepest I’ve ever seen. They have even banned spectators on those two holes for fear of a few cardiac arrests, I presume. 

There are some spectacular views though. The green fairways are accentuated by the brown of the moisture starved hills and elevation changes of 100 feet or more punctuate this stunning venue. But it’s not tournament quality. It’s all about the fans and they will not see much of the action.

Motorized buggies (golf carts you doofuss) were used in the pro-am, qualifier and practice rounds today. I even heard the LPGA requested use for every group in the tournament (ala Mexico City) but was rejected by the sponsor. Even with a short field of 132 participants, I wonder if we will be availed with enough daylight to finish each day.

  • Just another sweetheart; Remember that Himalayan like climb I mentioned tween eleven and twelve? “Motorcycle Fred” was scaling the precipice just as Mikeala Parmlid was motoring up in her buggy. He turned and gestured for a ride but was rebuked as she blew right by him. Besides wearing some of the weirdest attire on tour, and being one of the slowest in life to pull a stick, she has now moved into first position on Fred’s s–t list.

  • Squawk, squawk; After Natalie and Morgan hit their tee balls on the fourteenth, a greeting was perceived just behind us within the bushes. Both Greg Sheridan (Natalie’s looper) and I thought it was some type of parrot being given some air by it’s owner but turned out to be Paula Creamer. She’s staying in a home just behind the tee, and having a tad of a deepish nasal tone in her voice due to being a bit under the weather, was unrecognizable. Don’t think she liked being mistaken for a vocalizing fowl.

Tuesday: I arrived before daybreak and went right to the tee when Kim showed up. We were early enough to play by ourselves which makes for a perfect practice round. Plenty of chipping and putting but it did take Kim awhile to get loose. She’s still spry enough not to hurt herself in the interim though.

“No carts allowed” was the order of the day but the shuttles were there and took the sting out of this track. Didn’t count them but 12-13 is about right.

No plans were made to hit the range as it is cut into the side of a hill and all shots would look knee high. Can’t get much out of that.

  • Bee-utiful it was not; On her time off, Kim made an attempt to get in as much practice at Superstition Mountain (site of the Safeway event in Phoenix) but one round almost turned into a disaster. Alerted by the drone of thousands of buzzing “killer bees” heading her way, she hit the dirt up against her buggy and avoided what may have been an emergency visit to the hospital (if she could make it that far-allergic to the critters).

  • Why did the turkey cross the road? This course is by no means located in an urban area. Plenty of wildlife abound including deer (one crossed our path this morning) and a large rafter of wild turkeys which roam at will. Dina’s cadero of the week, Rick “The Nerd”, just happened to have his camera at the ready when the flocking fowl appeared. What’s the answer to the afore mention query? Look below.

Hey! It’s a turkey. Don’t blow out an artery figuring it out.

  • “Coup” coo ca choo; Is our visit to Thailand in jeopardy? Many are starting to question if it’s worth going. One talk show host said the general who led the unrest is a Muslim. Oh boy! If you haven’t heard yet, check this out.

  • Back in the saddle; The recent extrication off the sack of Michelle Wie has not dissuaded Greg Johnston from returning to his old stomping grounds. You’ll find him toting the sticks for the reemergence of Grace Park this week.

Greg and T. Mack (Annika’s looper) ham it up for “The Nerd”

Wednesday: Being the first alternate for the pro-am necessitated another early arrival, but the deplorable “into the mountain” driving ranged shortened our time there. Made it as far as the seven iron then headed for the chipping green. A stint there and also on the putting green completed our practice. Spent the rest of our time getting some business done and rubbing elbows with the masses.

  • More good eats; This week’s sponsor hosted a “Caddie Banquet” (they didn’t roast one of us, we were the guests of honor) in one of the finest settings to date. Spread out on the terrace, bordering the lake on the eighteenth hole, was a cadero feast to be remembered. Ribs, burgers, chicken wings, sausages with bbq beans, all the fixins and of course, two taps of liquid hops. “Motorcycle Fred” put a hurtin’ on the sumptuous spread but tempered his gluttonous gastric gobbling with a diet Pepsi. Why pack on a couple hundred extra calories for no need. 

After the carnage.

  • Hey ladies, mark your calendar; Usually, the ability to plan ahead, and follow though to the culmination of said contrivances, is an admirable virtue but one recent entry on our private message board (used for caddies looking for loops and vice versa) really  piqued my interest. Sirgolfsalott wrote, “I’m retiring in 2010 and want to begin my new career as a caddy in 2011 on The Futures Tour”. YIKES! 2011! Nothing like submitting your job application five years in advance. Are there any LPGA wannabies setting their sights on the 2011 Futures Tour? Maybe a posting in The Korean Times would be more apropos.

  • An ill wind blows; Starting around 11:00 AM and lasting for about an hour, a vicious wind ripped though the course and wrecked havoc upon the driving range. A mini cyclone traversed from one side to the other, carrying along a whirlwind of loose signs it scooped up along the way, and made a beeline for Wendy Ward. Luckily, she managed to evade the oncoming menace but her caddie Carl was not so fortunate. He got clipped by one of the  airborne projectiles. 

Thursday: Bad day all-around. Shot +5.

  • Coo coo achoo! Kim is fighting a few allergies this week but when we arrived on the thirteenth green all hell broke loose. A sneezing jag coupled with sinuses draining like Niagara Falls led to a “four whack” and a double bogie. By the time we made it to the next tee, all was back to normal.

  • The wheels on the bus goes round and round …We’ve been parking on the side streets till today cause the shuttles from our designated lot haven’t been running. But for some caderos, today’s service was a cluster f@#K. A group of loopers boarded a shuttle before sunrise and had a driver that hadn’t made the run previously. After a 15minute ride around the neighborhood, they wound up where they started. But as luck would have it, another shuttle was spotted and a cry of “Follow that bus” had them on the way to the club house.

  • The “Wynns” of change; Brittany Lincicome has been trying a few different loopers lately, and being a top bag right now, it’s a stroke of good fortune to line her up for any of the remaining events, or so we thought. Rick Wynn corralled the sack this week but miscommunication at the East gate of Blackhawk (the one we were told to use) sent him all the way back to public parking and he wound up 40 minutes late. The one thing you just can’t do out here is be late and he paid the ultimate price. His job. Brittany hired “Country Club” Mike who was supposed to work for Jennifer Rosales who withdrew ounce more (imagine that).

  • Fatal attraction? A short delay on the eighteenth tee gave Kim an opportunity to relate her “killer bee’ story. She considered herself very fortunate to be bypassed by the swarm which prompted Christa Johnson to add a piece of advice. Apparently, the carbon dioxide emitted by exhaling attracts the little beggars which had me wonder if the stink in your pants (after being scared s–tless) would do the same?

Friday: Had the cut made on the seventeenth tee but a needless bogie on one of the shortest holes out here put us down the road.

  • You won’t feel a thing; Not sure if this the straight scoop but I heard an inadvertent jab of the needle sidelined Natalie Gulbis this week. An attempt to numb an infected finger wound up putting all four to sleep and ended her visit to the Golden State in quick fashion. Pretty tough to play one-handed.

  • Waiting in the wings; Looks like Stacy P.’s dad, Lou, will be hanging up his caddie credentials after this season but the “all in the family” tradition will carry on as Stacy’s husband will pick up where Lou left off. 

  • Belly-buster; I like a burger just as well as the next guy, but the newest offering from Burger King has me flummoxed. Don’t know if the BK Stacker it’s a meant to satisfy or asphyxiate you.

  • Can I buy you dinner sweetie? Oh, those wascally Europeans. We’ve all heard of the infamous “red light” districts across the pond, but this may be taking it a bit too far. Gives new meaning to Carl Spackler’s line in Caddyshack “Bark like a dog”.

Saturday: Even though we didn’t make the cut, another trip to the course was necessary to return my towel and caddie bib. With plenty of time on my hands, I snatched up a bag of goodies at the Longs giveaway tent and shot the bull with a couple other caderos. Looks like the axe has fallen on a few more but the names will be withheld for now. When I heard some of the reasons, the absence of logical reasoning was profound. Also found out veteran looper Jim Petersen has hung it up for good.

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