Around The Green
Poppy Ridge Golf Club - June 15 2005

First things first, I would like to offer my apologies for not getting my article done for the last Main Line. I have hundreds of reasons, but the main reason is that I type and write so poorly that I always put it off till the last moment and plain forgot.

The last several years the club has been taking advantage of our affiliation with the NCGA and has scheduled tournaments at Poppy Ridge for our Golf Club. Personally I think Poppy Ridge and Poppy Hills are two of the finest courses in Northern California.
When you add in the conditions on the two courses and the price we pay as NCGA members they are also bargains in the premium golf course market.

Poppy was always in excellent condition and the greens were beautiful. The course has done a great job of maintaining the courses even though they get a lot of play. I started play in the first group and the wind was very mild. But by the time we went up on the ridge to play our second nine the wind started to pick up. Poppy Ridge is a tough course and can be very tricky. When you throw in the wind every shot you hit is a big question on what club to hit and where to aim them. Plus if your choice is the wrong one you are left with some difficult short game shots or have a difficult two putt opportunity

Normally I would write about the first place finisher at the start of the article, but I happened to play with Chris Pratt the second place finisher at Poppy Ridge. Chris was the Medallist at this tournament and it is pretty tough to shoot 75 net 70 with only five strokes. Chris has been a regular at our events this year and he has his eyes on Bob Jackson’s’ trophy. That would be interesting to have back-to-back single digit index Club Champions. I always felt it was more difficult to contend with a smaller handicap.

Well… back to Chris Pratt’s round. Playing with someone having an outstanding round is fun to watch. And this was no exception, Chris is one of those players who hit their drivers on every driving hole. His confidence is well founded as he hits his very solid, seldom getting in trouble. Plus he also hits his irons very well. We got a idea of the type of round he was going to have when he hit his second shot within two feet to begin with a birdie. His score was very good but honestly he could have been under par, great round Chris.

Sorry to the first place finisher Bill Downing who shot a very nice round himself. His score of 95 net 69 was very nice considering how difficult Poppy is for low handicaps and for higher handicaps it is a bear with all the high grass and hazards on every hole. Bill’s group plays in nearly every tournament and it is nice to see Billy winning this event.

Three players were in a tie for third place and they all shot net 71. All three have been members of this club well before I entered the fire department and they are all great guys. Mike Duncan and Dave Jackson must have had a nice time playing together at Poppy that day, as they are regulars in the same foursome. Mark Johnson, who has been a member at Station 17 for the last several years, played a great round. He usually is happy to break 100. Nice rounds guys and a beautiful day on the links. I believe that we will be seeing Poppy Ridge again next year and hope we have as nice a day.

Angels Camp Golf Trip
Greenhorn Creek and Saddle Creek Golf Courses - July 13 and 14 2005

After several years of kicking around the idea of a summer two-day trip up to the Gold country, we finally decided to give it a try. Frank and John thought that the two courses near Angels Camp would be the perfect place and I agreed. Several years ago I put together a trip to play both of these courses, but for some reason I could not attend. Frank and John were very impressed and have been talking about a return trip ever since. As a result we put it on our schedule and hoped that our members would also be interested in playing somewhere new. The club responded and we headed up to the foothills. To those of you who have never been to this area do yourself a favor and check it out. We stayed at Greenhorn Creek and what a great place to stay. The Golf facility was first class and the cottages we stayed in were fantastic. Frank did a great job and everything went smoothly, including the superb banquet we were served.

To the members who did not play in this event you missed out on two really nice courses, but you also did not have to play in 105-degree temperatures. Did I mention that it was HOT, well it was really, really HOT super HOT!!! I don’t think I have ever played in hotter weather before and I live in Concord. Maybe that is why I play at six in the morning and the sun is barely rising. I believe that it was the first time I gave up on walking a round and climbed into a golf cart, which I did on the back nine on the second day. Some of our golfers were affected by the heat but still played well for both rounds.

Travis Rail finished three shots under his handicap for the two days to tie for first place with Pat McLauglin. Their two-day totals of 141 were very nice totals as both courses are on the difficult side with some tricky greens. Pat was well behind after the first day and his second day net 66 was one of the best rounds of the two days. Bob Jackson had a two-day total of 143 and finished in third place alone. Bob is not going to give up his Club Trophy without a fight. His consistent play is going to make all the other contenders play solidly in all the events over the year to wrestle it away from him. Once again Chris Pratt was our Medallist and his first day 74 had him near the lead, but he was disappointed in his second day 81 which took him out of contention for first.

We are uncertain about having another summer trip next year. Greenhorn was great, but said we would be unable to receive the same package as this year so if you have any suggestions let us hear them. Also feedback on if attendance would be worthwhile to put something together. Thanks to all attended and we hope that you enjoyed the trip and the golf courses.

Hiddenbrooke Golf Club - August 1 2005

Aw!!! Hiddenbrooke, what a fantastic golf course. For some reason I just love Hiddenbrooke but like another course that I love Oakhurst I never play there. Two years in a row after playing at this course I have vowed to play at Hiddenbrooke again in the near future. This is one solid golf course. This year the course was in better shape than last year. The greens were much quicker and the course was playing beautifully. We were also blessed with an absolutely perfect day for scoring, very little wind and the sun shining and nice and warm temperatures. One thing about Hiddenbrooke is that you better not drive the ball poorly or you will be in for a long day. When you are hitting it straight the course seems generous, but if your bad swing appears the course has trouble everywhere to gobble up golf balls. Those hidden brooks seem to be on every hole with some of the holes having it come into play for all the shots. A perfect example is the par five second hole where on the scorecard it appears to be a simple short three shot hole. But all three shots have to navigate hazards and a score of par is usually a good score.

Our first place finisher must have had his A-game for this round. Jonathan Okamura and his group are relatively new to our golf club. They joined as a group and have been one of our regular foursomes ever since. I think that this is the first time one of their foursome has won a tournament and I hope not the last. John came in off the course pretty happy with his round, but like all golfers he was bemoaning the shots he left on the course. His well played round of 87 net 68 was good for a one shot advantage. Pat McLauglin and Bill Kneis were tied for second place and both played fine rounds. Their scores of net 69 have left them one shot back. I know that they were both pleased with their respective rounds, but now that they only trailed by one shot are probably going over their round remembering that one fat score. If only I had not made THAT TRIPLE…. Big Dave Thompson was alone in fourth place another stroke back with a net 70.

Last year, Hiddenbrooke offered us a great deal for this year’s tournament and they did a great job for us once again. We hope they will allow us to return there again next year so I can say for the third year in a row, “Why don’t I play here more often, I Love this course”.

Windsor Golf Club - September 1 2005

The first time I played the Windsor’s golf course, I was amazed that they could build a short course in this age of longer is better. Their course architect was rewarded with a professional golf tournament. Windsor’s small and elevated greens and narrow fairways were tough enough that the Nike tour held a tournament there for several years. On the day of our event the weather was picture perfect and the course looked like it was ready to be taken advantage of by our golf club. I should mention that because of a mix up on the date of the tournament, some of our members missed this event and the golf committee is sorry about that. Please check the golf line because things like this happen sometimes and we try to leave a message to inform our members of the change.

Being on the golf committee sometimes makes it difficult to play well in our tournaments. Often we work the table until the very last minute and then run to the tee without the benefit of warming up or even putting on the practice green. So when one of us even scores well enough to be in the top three, they played fairly well. Frank Bonal has been fighting a sore shoulder all year and as result his game and his handicap has suffered. Several times this year he has been unable to finish a full round of golf. When he came in after his round with a smile on his face, I figured he was happy to play without any pain, but playing pain free and shooting 86 net 68 was all the better. Frank’s net 68 was two shots better then the next closest score and hopefully Frank has left the struggles behind and can play pain free at Reno. Mike Kearney was our second place finisher and we know that he was happy to shoot his 99 net 70. Mike is usually happy to shoot in the nineties and he did it on a tough golf course from the Blue tees. Very nice round Mike, and we hope to see you break into the top spot. In the third slot was the recently retired Phil Kelber. Now that Phil is retired, he has joined the swelling ranks of ex-firefighting Professional golfers… the city pays them and they play golf ... often. He shot a solid 78 net 71 to finish one stroke clear of several golfers who netted 72. There seems to be a competition between this events medallist Bob Jackson who shot a 76 and Chris Pratt who shot a 77. They have been trading turns at the medallist podium all year and for this one Bob came out ahead.

Windsor was a very nice tournament and I have always admired their golf course. But it is an awfully long way from home for me and I’m not sure if I am all that fired up to drive up to Windsor next year or not, but who knows where we are playing in 2006. Thanks to all the golfers who attended and don’t forget to check he golf line for any updates.

Darryl Loo


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