Golf can be serious business or great fun. Tournaments make it more so, either way we look at it. So let’s look at one of my favorite events for us non-professionals, the Mesquite Amateur Golf Tournament.
Let’s dive right in to the basics of: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Let’s add How to the mix. So, let’s take our Hydeout on a little adventure in reality.
I would hope that every serious golfer has taken the opportunity to give competitive golf a try. It’s not for everyone, I know. But, if it fits your personality, your golf game, or just your sense of adventure, I would urge you to give it a go!
If you’re reading this, you are already a good candidate. And, no, we don’t all have to be serious, we just want to have fun, too. So, nobody should feel left out! Everyone is welcome.
There are different divisions for different age groups as well as varying handicap levels, and for both men and women competitors.
The Mesquite Amateur, I think, is one of the premier stroke play events where amateurs can tee it up with competition from all over the United States, and elsewhere. The event is now in its 13th year, and still going strong.
It was started in 2003 in Mesquite, Nevada by Mesquite Gaming. The first tournament had 400 golfers in 12 flights competing for the overall title. This year, 2016, the event had 486 participants spread over 16 flights in 5 divisions or age brackets, Men 49 and under, Senior Men 50 to age 59, Super Senior Men age 60 to 69, Master 70 and older, and three Women’s divisions bracketed by handicap.
This is a 54 hole, individual stroke play event played over a different course each of 3 days. The top finishers of each flight go on to an additional final round at a selected venue to compete for the overall title of the Mesquite Amateur.
The last of May and first part of June is the schedule for the Mesquite Amateur. It usually starts after Memorial Day, with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday rounds forming the competition. The low players from each flight then are invited to play in the Championship round on Friday of that week.
One of the reasons we enjoy this tournament is the climate. It is DRY. It is desert golf.
We have been to the World Amateur in the Myrtle Beach area several times. I love that tournament, too, but I have never played there yet without being rained on at least once during the week. I have said it before: “I am not a mudder”. I have played in rain before and will again, I’m sure. But my preference is for sunshine and a dry golf course. If nothing else, Mesquite offers that.
It also offers a laid back atmosphere. Though all the amenities of a larger city are present, it has a small town feel, an intimacy that is welcoming. So, non-golfers who might be accompanying their mates, take heart. There are other things to see and do in Mesquite!
The current course venues are:
- CasaBlanca Golf Club
- The Palms Golf Club
- Falcon Ridge Golf Course
- The Canyons course at Oasis Golf Club
- The Palmer course at Oasis Golf Club
- Conestoga Golf Club
- Coyote Springs Golf Club in Coyote Springs, Nevada.
Each of these venues is probably tougher than average, with plenty of desert landscape to view, and to dodge, and avoid for the benefit of your score. They are not pushovers, by any stretch of the imagination.
The evening events, which include a catered dinner developed and prepared by area chefs and served buffet style, are held in the CasaBlanca Events Center adjacent to the CasaBlanca Resort. Other participating hotels are Virgin River Hotel Casino and Eureka Casino Resort.
Mesquite is located approximately 80 miles east of Las Vegas. That close proximity to a major airport enables many to fly in, rent a vehicle and get there with minimal problems or challenges.
Many from California or Arizona drive there. We tried that last year, but, the 18 or 19 hour drive from Missouri was not in the plans this year.
We stayed in a condo for the week that is situated nearby to the Event Center. That has worked out well for us for the last two years. The above mentioned hotels also offer special rates to tournament participants.
- It’s fun; we create a playground for entertainment at every course or tournament we compete.
- It’s nerve racking, because we always want to do our best, even when conditions are not what we are used to.
- It’s exciting; playing against other people can ramp up our expectations or our demons.
- It’s educational; we learn how to cope. We learn how we react in different situations and among other competitors. We can learn from our mistakes as well as our successes.
There’s nothing like a little competition to get the blood flowing and the adrenaline pumping. At times, there’s nothing better. At other times, leisure is the name of the game. I get it!
But, when honest competition is available, we think there’s nothing comparable. Whether it’s the club championship or any other stroke, or match play event, a contest is a contest. And competition brings out the real you! I didn’t say the best you; I said the real you. And only you get to decide who the real you is!
But, when you want to play real golf against real golfers in a competitive situation, whether the outcome is for a prize or prestige or just for fun, tournament golf is the name of the game.
Relaxation and renewal is why we always bring our Hydeout when we travel. We try to follow the time honored and well documented formula of: FAR, food, activity, rest. In our personal lingo that would translate to: EGS or eat, golf, sleep. That may a little simplistic for some, but it does cover all the parameters of necessity for human growth.
Just how big a hypocrite are you, anyway? Or me too, for that matter?
I used to believe that I could look at my golf handicap and then look at others and say to myself (and hopefully, only to myself): “mine is as right as I can make it; theirs may or may not be.”
I now know that I was mostly wrong. I guess you could have called me a handicap snob, for a while, anyway. Oh, I still have doubts once in a great while about the veracity of the handicaps of some people I compete against.
But, there’s more to the story. Isn’t there always?
I’m going to go out on a limb here. I admit this: I used to think that my golf handicap was totally and brutally honest. I counted each and every stroke for every round of golf I played. I recorded (and still do) every score, using Equitable Stroke Control as per GHIN guidelines.
What’s not to like about that? That’s what the USGA expects! Right? Right!
But, the truth is: that’s not always how we always play. Is it?
I play the ball as it lies, or “down”, as called for in the Rules of Golf, quite often, most of the time, actually. But there are a few groups I play with that use what is referred to as “winter rules” all the time. I play with a few golfers that have never not “noodled” the ball, or rolled it, or whatever you call it where you live. Some people just call it cheating.
We do play for money; it’s not much, I admit. It’s definitely not enough to warrant reporting to the IRS, either wins or losses. But who wants to put themselves at a disadvantage while competing for stakes, even if it’s just who buys the beer?
Oh, one could take the high road and always play strictly by the Rules of Golf, regardless of what others did or regardless of any competitive disadvantage, but that would go somewhat against human nature. I mean, and I repeat, who wants to give everyone else an edge in any sort of competition, even a so-called friendly game? So, we do what everyone else does.
And that brings us back to accurate handicaps.
I learned a while back that the USGA, while still adhering to, and administering the Golf Handicap Information Network (GHIN) guidelines, determines handicaps not recorded strictly by the Rules of Golf to be inaccurate.
That is to say that what I once thought was almost above reproach, was in fact, incorrect in the eyes of the USGA. I guess I never really thought about it that closely. But scores could really be off a little by giving one’s self an improved lie once in a while.
I can almost hear some purists in my head saying: “you mean you actually move the ball and think that’s okay?” “You don’t think that’s cheating?”
So, there’s the first reason handicaps may or may not be as accurate as they could be. Yours or mine. People do move the ball around from time to time, whether you want them to or not.
The second that comes to mind is the handicaps that are inaccurate due to incomplete or selective posting.
This reason has two components, really. Some people have artificially high handicaps. They post only the highest of scores and clearly “forget” to post those rounds when they shoot a low score. Sandbaggers are in their element here, of course. Artificially high handicaps are in the clear majority in the artificial numbers game.
The ones who have artificially low handicaps are clearly in the minority, and for good reason. That practice does them no good, whether they know it or not. The only benefit is to their ego; that can be a costly ego trip (to somebody).
I once played a 2 man better ball match with a blind draw for partners. I drew a partner who claimed to be “a four”. He did not break 100, and probably couldn’t without benefit of an eraser. He wasn’t even embarrassed; he just cited excuse after excuse for his high score.
I was not upset at his play; he actually tried quite hard to shoot his best. I was rankled, instead because his artificially low handicap was far outside of his ability. He was only hurting his own chances for success (and mine, somewhat).
There are obviously more than two reasons for an inaccurate handicap. They may include:
- Not using Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) when posting
- Not turning in scores for unfinished rounds where at least 14 holes were played. (there is a way to record that score using GHIN allocated strokes)
- Thinking 9 hole rounds cannot be recorded
- Not recording tournament rounds
- Not recording rounds played away from your home course
The list goes on.
And I have not even mentioned “gimme” putts (You know, the ones people give you when you aren’t even involved in match play). How many of those strokes go by the wayside?
It may be tough to remember everything all the time. Everyone will forget something, sometime. And, it’s not only easy, but okay, to excuse ignorance of proper procedures most of the time. This is supposed to be a friendly game. Right?
But, it’s harder to accept when there is a purposeful avoidance of having an accurate, honest-as-can-be handicap. I just wish we all had one. Don’t you?
Why worry about this? The question does come up once in a while. My humble opinion is that as we travel, whether it is to another country, state or city, our handicap goes where we go, along with all our other baggage (pun intended). Shouldn’t our Hydeout be worry free?
“There’s three on and two out in the bottom of the ninth. The pitcher is ready, the count is full, and we have a rookie at the plate with a chance to give the home crowd a huge thrill if… ”
I grew up playing baseball. When I went to that land of make-believe, or whatever you want to call it, to pretend my performance would make a difference in the outcome, that was the sport of choice. That was where I lived. My heroes were all Major League ball players: Stan Musial, Curt Flood, Ken Boyer, Luis Aparicio, Bob Gibson, Ernie Banks, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle. Yes, that dates me!
Whether I actually I stood at the plate, or hit fungoes or grounders to my friends in a pick-up game, thoughts of future prowess were always in the back of my mind. What little kid didn’t think of making the big play, getting the big hit, winning the game, or “bringing home the bacon” for the pure pleasure of the feelings we got when we focused on doing our very best!
My baseball playing days are long over.
I play golf for fun and recreation now. And, most importantly, golf is now my sport of competition! Golf is also a part of the reason for this blog. It has become that much a part of what we do. I know! This is personal; this is not purely meant for the blog-o-sphere. This just helps to explain why we do what we do.
I learned to play golf somewhat when I was a teenager. I played a few times with friends using either borrowed clubs, or later, clubs my long-absent father left for my brothers and I to share. I didn’t learn much, about golf anyway.
When my father’s hand-me-down clubs were stolen, when I was about eighteen, I didn’t bother replacing them. First, I couldn’t afford to do that. Second, golf wasn’t that important to me to even try to replace them.
I did not even try to play golf again until I was 35 years old. An inspecting engineer on a job I was working on became a good friend. He was, and is, an avid golfer. He loaned me a set of clubs to use to get started again in the game of golf. The game engulfed me with a fervor not felt for a very long time. I will forever owe him a debt of gratitude, not once, but twice!
At that time in my life I also hunted and fished in much of my spare time. When I added golf to my leisure activities, spare time became even more precious, and busy. There I was with work, a wife, two kids, hunting, fishing, golf… My wife gave me an ultimatum: one of them had to go. Much as I wanted to consider all the possibilities, that was not the time for jokes.
My friend, the engineer, used to problem solving, said: “I not only have another option, I have another extra set of clubs for her. Invite her to play with my wife and I, then you both can join us this weekend for a round.”
Up until that time, I had never found another sport that my wife enjoyed other than water skiing. At that, she was very good! In the almost 45 years we have been married, I have never seen her fall when there wasn’t an outside influence, like an inexperienced driver or an unexpected appearance of another boat in the way.
Baseball and softball were out. I still have her hand me things rather than toss or throw them to me. Unabashed, I keep reminding her she throws like a girl. We tried tennis, my second sport of choice in high school; wrestling was my first choice.
Nope! That wasn’t going to work either.
Okay! Golf it is! She accepted the invitation and the challenge.
I won’t tell you her score, though I do remember it to the very last stroke, but I will say that when she connected on every third or fourth, or even fifth shot, and it sailed down the middle of the fairway, she was bitten! She was hooked! The golf bug had a hold. Her comment, upon finishing, was: “I can do this! I liked this.” Thanks, Friend! A lifetime of couples golf awaited!
That was 1985.
Greene Hills Country Club, in Willard, Missouri, which had just expanded from a 9 hole course to 18 holes in September of 1985 was the venue for our first ever tournament experience. In October of that year we played in their “Cat and Dog” scramble. Thank goodness for the kind couple with whom we were paired. They were saints. They “awwed”; we laughed. They laughed; we cried. We shot 99 in a couples scramble. We placed dead-ass last. Yet, we managed to have a lot of fun. The very next year we joined that club.
My wife and I have definitely enjoyed playing golf since that time, much of our play in competitive formats. As we continued to improve somewhat, we played both individual and couples tournaments whenever they were convenient and it was within our budget. We both happen to be very competitive, even with each other. We used to play matches to decide who would wash dishes, or who would cook.
The various venues where we have competed have been all over the place, intentionally. We do like variety!
We have both competed in the Springfield City Championships; she still does. I quit after I realized how much of a “good-ole-boy” system the men’s competition was. Rules didn’t matter; all that mattered was how connected one was! BS to that.
We competed in the couples event at Grand National in Opelika, Alabama for about 9 years. That event was started by Golf Digest, and was a premier event for couples, and still is, but the schedule is somewhat awkward. The timing of the tournament revolves around the football schedule of Auburn University. Tough competition there! So, it was hard to plan ahead for that one.
One tournament that is easy to plan for but not necessarily easy to commit to is the Myrtle Beach World Amateur, formerly the DuPont World Am, formerly the PGA Superstore World Am… You get the drift. Don’t get me wrong! It’s a great event, probably the foremost in its class, or genre. There are still some 3,000 to 4,000 golfers that compete there each year on approximately 60 golf courses for 72 holes of competition. Wow! Only trouble is, the schedule calls for the tournament to be played the week before Labor Day. That’s rainy season in the Carolinas; some would say it’s even the beginning of hurricane season.
I’m not a mudder! I do not enjoy playing in the rain. I have played there 4 times and have yet to play a tournament without getting wet. Though the golf was good and the competition worthwhile, knowingly scheduling golf in the rain was not my idea of fun!
We tried golf in the desert. We liked it, and still do! That’s one reason we have competed a few times in the Mesquite Amateur. Similar, but smaller than the World Am, it offers the same scope of experience, only drier.
Golf, for us, is almost a necessity! It is a diversion; it is lifestyle; it is a passion. It is also a Hydeout.
We have continually enjoyed taking our golf clubs whenever possible when we travel, to extend our experience in golf adventure to other states and even other countries.
So, as we continue to search for different venues, different experiences in the world of golf, we would ask you to read along and share our love of the game.
Keep it in the short grass!