The Eater of Golf Balls


Steam rising from the beast

The HAC was played at the Tournament Club of Iowa (TCI –link). After 27 well fought holes, the South of Wilden crowd has won their first trophy in several decades. In my matches, paired with the stalwart MS, aka Cutter, we fought hard against our opponents, RT and TB, but driving accuracy, length, and good looks cannot match laser wedges and dropped twenty foot putts. My hat’s off to our opponents.

I have one comment to make about TCI. Designed by the inimitable Arnold Palmer, it is an anomaly in Iowa. Unlike much of Iowa which is flat as a tabletop, this area around Polk City above the dam is topographically more like the moderately hilly parts of Pennsylvania farm country. There are ravines and low buttes. Arnie, using his deep experience with golf as an instrument of pain, has created a monster that demands to be fed golf balls.

These are not subtle tricks of the light that cause golf balls to wink out into moderate rough like at Wakonda. No, its craters are like giant salad bowls filled with knee deep vegetation that swallow up those Titleists, Bridgestones, and Nikes like grains of table salt shaken into a green shag carpet.

Golf is about the mind. Each of us have fears that certain golf courses use to guide us away from our purpose of reaching the hole. I grew up playing golf in Florida, and I welcome water and sand. Florida, like Iowa, is usually flat, but water and beach sand are rare commodities here in Iowa and are usually my allies in matches against the land locked. Hills and elevation changes add a third dimension that I often find confounding on approaches, and the penalties of a lost ball are much higher than for water or sand.

But despite all this, everything is trumped by the ability to get the ball close and dropping that putt, and that is where I failed. It’s back to the lab.


dropping putts is the whole point of golf