Sunday, September 13, 2009

The 2009 Valhalla Adventure

As I mentioned in Friday's post, I had the rare opportunity of playing golf at the Valhalla Golf Club outside of Louisville, KY yesterday. For those who aren't familiar with this course, it opened in 1986 and was designed by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus. It has hosted the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships (the latter won by Tiger Woods), the 2004 Senior PGA Championship, and the Ryder Cup Matches just last year. In short, it's a special place to play golf, despite its relatively young age.

I always consider it both a treat and a privilege to play at a course such as Valhalla. Golf is about the only sport where that's possible; you don't get to throw a pitch at Yankee Stadium or shoot a foul shot at Madison Square Garden unless you're playing for those venues' professional teams, but if you are invited to and are willing to pay the greens fees, you, too, can play golf at a place that's hosted major championships!

Let me add here that the weather was picture-perfect, with relatively low (for Kentucky) humidity and temperature that probably didn't exceed 80 degrees. There was enough breeze to keep things comfortable but not so much to cause golfers any real problems.

My playing partners were a couple of good friends and a fellow whom I had not met previously, but he also was a terrific partner. We rode golf carts and had two forecaddies. If you've never had a forecaddie, these folks don't carry your golf bag but do about everything else a traditional caddie would do. It's still a lot of work and there are generally two forecaddies per group of four golfers, so these fellows were busy following after the four of us, providing us the exact distance to the hole from all sorts of exotic locations on (and off) the fairways, raking sandtraps, cleaning our golf balls and clubs, and assisting in reading putts.

When you're a weekend golfer like myself, you really don't hold a lot of hope of scoring well on a challenging course like Valhalla, and yesterday was no exception. You just want to keep things, well, respectable, so that you don't completely embarrass yourself. I'd say that my final score yesterday fell into that category, and I had a blast! Despite the obvious challenges, I managed to score a par on four different holes, and narrowly missed par on a few others. I put up a big number on several holes, and managed to lose a couple of balls along the way. But, really, who cares, as long as it was fun?

All in all, a special day, from the moment we drove onto the property and were greeted by the golf bag attendants, through the pro shop and the grill where we enjoyed a nice lunch, to our forecaddies Barry (thanks for the great read on 16!!) and Mike and the moment we left the club, it was just fantastic!

Lest I forget here's a tip of the cap to my friend Bill Straus, who coordinated yesterday's adventure!

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