Yesterday as the temperature approached 103 degrees here in Tucson, I headed for the links at Raven Golf Course at Sabino Springs. Raven is certainly one of the most picturesque courses in Arizona, if not America. So beautiful, if fact, it's hard to play the course and come away disappointed. Regardless of the final score, you just have to enjoy being there.
Three of us played yesterday. There was supposed to be a fourth, but he had some unforeseen problems at the last minute and couldn't make it. Too bad, we had a great time.
Our three-some included my friend Bert Williams, UA assistant basketball coach Rodney Tention and yours truly.
It was the first time Bert and I had played together, but Rodney is an avid golfer and we've been playing from time to time since he arrived at the UA back in 1997. I've already told you I'm a "hacker" and Rodney doesn't have the opportunity to play as often as he'd like so his game is somewhat up and down too.
Yesterday, Rodney and I both had an up-and-down day you want to try to forget. Only Bert came away with a smile on his face, carding a 96 and commenting, "I played way over my head guys. Great game!"
That was yesterday, but now let me take you back to another day at the Raven Golf Club.
Back on Sept. 8, 1998 there was a foursome of us playing Raven. Phil Johnson, a one-time assistant at Arizona who was the head coach at San Jose State at the time, was one member of the group. Johnson had recently accepted a job as an assistant to Tim Floyd, head coach of the Chicago Bulls, and was in Tucson for few days. Brad Jepson, who at one time was the coordinator of basketball operations at the UA, Rodney and I rounded out the foursome.
We were having a great time, everyone was playing well. I don't really remember individual scores as we approached the ninth tee, a 200-yard par three when played from the silver tees, but I do remember Rodney was having a great day and was three over par at the time. Brad was about five over par while Phil and I was hanging close.
We finished the eighth hole only to find a logjam at the ninth tee. As we waited for the group in front of us to finish the hole, the group behind us came up. Eight of us stood next to the ninth tee as the group ahead left the ninth green.
I can't remember who hit first, but Phil and Brad each hit a long iron on the 200-yard hole. Rodney was the third to hit. He pulled a 5-iron from his bag and stepped to the tee as I watch from about six feet away. I remember thinking, "A 5-iron, I can't hit a 5-iron but maybe 160 to 170 yards. Is that going to be enough club?"
Rodney is a very good athlete with a classic textbook swing, compact and fluid. He stepped to the tee and appeared to be confident that he had chosen the right club. He took his position, looked down the fairway to the green as he prepared to address the ball. Slowly, he brought the face of his club back from the ball, bringing the club parallel to the ground at the top of his back swing. Effortlessly, he brought the club down, made contact and arched the ball on a line right at the flag.
"That looks very good," I said as I stood watching and waiting to hit (last of course).
Little did I know just how good the shot would be!
The ball landed ten feet short of pin, took a nice divot, bounced twice, rolled and disappeared into the cup. A hole-in-one!!!
"A hole-in-one," the other seven golfers yelled.
I've never had a hole-in-one. Of course, I've only been playing this game for 40 years, so maybe I just haven't played long enough. But you'd think, having played the game this long, I would have at least seen a hole-in-one. Nope, this was the first I had ever witnessed while playing.
We finished our round having tagged Rodney with a new nickname, "One." It lasted a couple of months and then wore off.
An old tradition says anyone fortunate enough to score a hole-in-one also earns the right to treat those in his group to free drinks, so we were not about to let Rodney off the hook. We went into the clubhouse, announced Rodney's feat and celebrated the occasion with a couple of beers.
After our round yesterday, "One," Bert and I went into the clubhouse for a soda to cool off. I had told Bert the story of Rodney's hole-in-one, so we checked to see if his name was on 9th hole plaque honoring the accomplishments of those who scored an ace on that particular hole.
Sure enough, there it was:
Sept. 8, 1998, Rodney Tention, 200 yards, 5-iron
Every now then it's nice to tell a story about the accomplishments of your friends. At least, that what I think I think.
Doug Carr can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com
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