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Wednesday, March 7, 2018


I want to first thank all of our members who continue to support the club during these difficult times. It has been a difficult time for all involved, especially for those who did use the clubhouse often enough before and after their round. We all know its hard to get used to smaller quarters where to have a bite to eat or a drink after your round of golf, or late in the afternoon, just trying to catch up with other members. I know everything possible is being done to restore our social activities. As I published in Facebook earlier in the week, the situation with the insurance company forced us to file suit against Philadelphia Insurance in federal court, while leaving a door open for a quick settlement. We will keep every member posted on the progress. LET'S BE READY FOR A GREAT SPRING AND SUMMER WITH OUR TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE AND DAILY PLAY... NO CLUBHOUSE, BUT WE CAN STILL PLAY THE GAME WE LOVE!

Let's talk about golf!

After watching the tour stop at beautiful Chapultepec Golf Club in Mexico City, my brother Armando called me (we often call each other "are you watching?") reminded that the USGA and Royal & Ancient Club of St. Andrews will meet next week to go over the proposed rules changes for 2019.

I often ask: "why do you want to change something that works?"

One of the rules changes of recent is the one that I call the "Tiger Rule", by which the player, after signing an incorrect scorecard, because he had a penalty he didn't know he had, is not disqualified, but assessed a two shot penalty plus the penalty for the rule in breach of. This IS IN CONTRADICTION with the wording of Rule #6, "The Player", which simply says that the player IS RESPONSIBLE FOR KNOWING THE RULES OF GOLF AND THE RULES OF THE COMPETITION! (in 2013, Tiger took an illegal drop after going in the water on #15, it was unintentional and the observer and referee for the group did not realize until later, nor his caddie or Tiger, he signed an incorrect scorecard, and instead of being disqualified, he was assessed a 2 stroke penalty and was allowed to play the next day, still in contention).

Another change of late is on whether you caused your ball to move before the stroke. Before, it was simply defined as "if you touch anything within a club's length of the ball, and you ground your club and your ball moves, your are deemed to have moved the ball. Add a stroke penalty, replace the ball where it was and go on". Now, it is matter of "judgement": maybe the wind moved it, or maybe the rotation of the earth did, or maybe the lower dimple was not resting on the ground correctly and the ball moved... "NOT FAIR!" Hey, if it moved, it moved and you were right on top of the ball and you should be assessed a penalty stroke, Period.

Now, they want more changes that will not only confuse the rules more, but will give "more breaks" to the players. I'm not in favor of any of the rules changes they are proposing, especially the out of bounds rule.

Anyway, the one change my brother and I discussed, would be simple: How to limit the golf ball, or how to equalize the golf ball for Professional play only, which is "forcing" ("let the shoot 40 under par" he said) architects to design longer and longer courses that need hundreds of thousands of dollars more in land and maintenance, and therefore making golf more expensive to play as a whole!

As he and I discussed our views, he made some great points about other sports. In general, in other sports athletes are rewarded with records: "when Roger Banister broke the 4 minute mile record, no one thought about 'lengthening' the mile" he said. Same with the 100 meter dash, when they broke the 10 second mark, they did not increase the length of the meter. High jump, long jump, swimming, marathon, etc., the distances are the same, and you measure yourself against other athletes in the same exact conditions and distances.

Even team sports have gotten better, in 1999, the NBA league averaged 34.2 field goals per game versus 39.5 in 2017, with a gradual improvement every year. But no one is speaking about lengthening the court or raising the basket. Why is the point average better? Because the athletes are bigger and better. Take any NBA team in last place and the NCAA champion won't have a chance.

So what is different in golf when the courses are getting longer and longer to accommodate new distances the golfers are achieving? The difference is that in those other sports, the only improvement in "equipment" is the human body... maybe the shoes or "friction-less" swimming suits as well, but in golf, the equipment you use is much better, thus, giving an average man or woman, the thrill of hitting the ball better with less effort and less skill. So the answer to me, as with many of the top golfers in golf, is not to lengthen the courses, but to shorten the distance the ball can go... AT LEAST AT THE PROFESSIONAL LEVEL!

I'll give you an example: take for instance a Titleist 917 driver. and a Prov1 ball. In my best day, I will hit it 220 in the air, maybe 240 rolling (my average with roll might be 220 now). Same driver, same ball, my friends Dustin Gunkel and Joby Gray will do 260 carry and 290 with roll. No wonder why they can score in the low 60's so often, when none of our Par-5 holes measure more than 460 yards. Compare that with Tour professionals who can often carry bunkers more than 300 yards away!

Now, instead of a Prov1, let's use a Titleist Tour Professional (Balata Wound): our distances would be much closer. They would lose 30 yards or so in carry and I would lose about 15. Use clubs of 30 years ago, and we are talking they would outfdrive me by 10-20 yards a the most, which would return us to a game of golf where they would still beat me, but, I think our scores would be much closer, because now we would rely on THE SOUL OF THE GAME: the scoring game (think Walter Hagen, Phil Mickelson, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus or Tiger, distance was less of a factor than their imagination, excellent iron play and putting games).

Clubhead speed and solidness of contact is everything! And there is no comparison between the average golfer, even the better club professional and even less, with the PGA Tour players.

In comparison, 30 years ago, tour players still hit the balls 40-50 yards longer than the rest of us, Jack Nicklaus could easily hit the ball 280+ yards in carry (I saw it in person), and we amateurs or club pros, were happy with a 250 yard drive (it felt like 300), roll included; and while some hit it farther than others, as it should be, it was the rest of their game and consistency that made a difference. Otherwise, why would senior amateur players use a ball not legal under USGA Rules? Because it goes longer! Some of my fellow senior golfers do that for daily play... and it is okay with me!

Here is an example you would visualize well: twenty PGA Club Professionals make it into the PGA Championship every year. Any one of those club professionals can easily beat 99.9% of all amateurs alive. Yet, we, PGA Professionals, are very happy when one or two of the twenty make the cut, more often than not, none! When the TV Ad of the PGA Tour says, "THESE GUYS ARE GOOD", they mean it!

So, why don't the USGA and Royal and Ancient Golf Club of Scotland, who make rule the game of golf and write the rules, also invite the NCAA and three main Tours (PGA, European and Asian) and come up with a good, sensible, bifurcation of the Rules of Golf by which those who make a living playing golf, start using a ball that gradually goes less far, thus avoiding the perceived need for communities to build golf courses that need to be so long?
At the very least, any new technology that allows the ball to go further, should only be used by amateurs or club professionals. As well, limit the length of a driver on tour to 43 1/2" inches. It'll take a little off the distance as well.

I don't think that it would be financially possible for the professional tours to be forced to use one brand of ball like they do in MLB (Rawlings), NBA (Spalding), NFL (Wilson), or Long Drive Championships where everyone uses the same ball....

But it might be just possible, to rule that a golf ball for tour players must not have more than 3 layers (some balls have 5 layers) and limit the number of dimples. Each ball made by the company they have signed for. Jordan, Dustin and Justin and the new young players would still excel, and golf courses would not have to be any longer than now, and would be cheaper!


Sunday, December 31, 2017


What a year it has been. Not that I am "thankful" for the tornado, but what followed the destruction of May 16, showed how much Elk City loves Elk City, and how much members love their golf course and their country club. We're living in the right place.
You think a tornado is going to keep
friends from gathering to share
a good time? Not in Elk City!

After the tornado, we missed a few tournaments, as we were still recovering, but in general, we tried our best to do business as "usual", including a club championship that crowned a new champion in young Logan Gore who beat the strongest field in years, including four-time champion Joby Gray.

Get me in the picture!
It was truly amazing that just 15 days after the tornado, we were able to host the annual Oil & Gas tournament in its 49th year without interruption. None of this would have happened without the help and support of so many members.

Debbie Smoot, a member of Elk City Golf & Country Club, and head of the Oil & Gas Tournament Committee said, "I never had a
doubt that the efforts of our fellow members would be fruitless. There was no way we would cancel or postpone". She was right. And, with all that, it not only helped our golfers, members or not, realize that golf would continue to be a part of our daily activities, as the golf course itself, even with 250 trees less, was still there, in very nice shape, waiting to challenge our personal best, but also gave everyone some hope and optimism.

Not the background they
would have planned for!
Missing a couple of tournaments was understandable, as was missing all of the scheduled parties we had in our schedule. On top of the list were a couple of parties that I was truly looking forward to: a 50th Wedding Anniversary (how rare is that!) and the only wedding reception we had in the schedule thus far... Aaron Kauk and the future Kara Kauk, who after their wedding agreed to pose for a picture in front of the (destroyed) clubhouse that would have hosted their reception.

L-R Kinsley Hall (Runner-Up) and
Ann Cowan (Women's Champion)
The last few months have been busy in many ways: dealing with insurance, dealing with plans to re-open and to rebuild an efficient clubhouse, and of course, dealing with daily operations, which, even without a clubhouse, must be taken care of.

Loga Gore... closed with a
flawless 64, never missing
a green!
Even with the help of so many members, something that was not short of amazing and something we are all so grateful for, our recovery has not been without controversy and differences of opinions (understandably, it would be difficult to have over 200 people agree on the same exact idea), but thankfully, it has all been civil and the process will continue and I am looking forward to the rebuilding of our clubhouse.

The last "News Maker of the Year": Rick Rex with his Hole in One on #7 on December 16.

Though we can all "start" something any time of the year, I am no different than all of you in the sense that a new year brings a "start" and we all try to make plans or have a "wish list" for the new year. Here are my top three things that I want for 2018...
I still remember doing this with my

  1. Go to church and read my Bible more often. There is no question that both are a source of wisdom and inspiration.
  2. Visit and talk to family more often.
  3. Play more golf, starting with our youth (I truly miss the good times with them!). This year I played the least I have ever played -and my game shows it.

Leading byu example: Paols & Jeff
always make time to visit family.
Of course that there are other things that I wish to do, but for now, I'll stick to those that I know I can do for sure.


Saturday, November 11, 2017


It is the 98th Anniversary of Veteran's Day (originally "Armistice Day"), and I can't think of anything but saying a "Big Thank You" to all who serve or who have served.

I know this holiday is dedicated to military service people, but, I can't help to think of every person who wears a uniform and serves to protect, military or not. I guess that the saying "TO SERVE AND PROTECT" is a perfect description of the gratitude we feel for everyone in any kind of service uniform.

Last week, without realizing that today would be a holiday, I had planned to play this Saturday (weather forecast was good), but, as it turned out, I stayed in the office, just happy I didn't have to face a three footer for par  under the cold drizzle. At this writing (started at about 3:00 p.m.), we've had exactly 5 players (some would call them "die-hards") all day.

On the other hand, just think of this: wouldn't you think that all these veterans or civilian service people, would rather face a tough 6 footer with a foot of break for $100 than a Taliban or a violent criminal with a gun pointing at them? That six footer is nothing now... compared, there is no pressure and it'll go in. In fact, if you ever play a "Low Ball" $10 Nassau, choose the partner that you know won't get scared and won't give up... a veteran is a good choice if available and you'll be way ahead!

So, again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

I hope you all have a wonderful day, and hopefully, you get to face more of these "scary" 6 footers more often than the alternative of your chosen service!

Sunday, September 10, 2017


A 49! Great Playing!
Yesterday, after almost everyone was gone after the playoffs and the final results were posted, an Elk member who is also member of Elk City Golf & C.C. came to me and said, "This is my favorite tournament of the year. I truly enjoy it. Thank you for your hard work.". It was a very nice compliment and I appreciated it, but knowing this local businessman, I am sure he first thanked the host committee of the Elks Lodge without whom, my work would not be relevant, maybe not even needed.

A tournament's success depends on a lot of things. For weeks before a tournament, especially a fundraising's  tournament, there is a group of people who wake up and plan their day around three things: contacting sponsors, contacting golfers and coordinating with the golf course. In short, a fundraising  tournament does not happen only because you reserve a date at the local golf course, or because your local pro knows how to do pairings or knows the rules of golf, it happens because a group of people who work together for one cause.

Usually, when the tournament is successful, the golf course's staff are usually the ones who get the nod from the players, however, keep in mind that our work is the easiest of all: type the pairings up (of 100-150 people who were recruited by the host committee), type rules (usually following the written rules of golf by the USGA), finish and publish pairings (usually in coordination with the host committee who has received requests, which in turn helps us do pairings the players will be comfortable with), do scorecards, do a scoreboard, and get paid.

None of that would happen if the host committee did not do their work as there would be not enough players, sponsors, and therefore money to have an attractive payoff, raise money for your cause and pay the course and the staff that helps, all at the same time.

By what I can see, over the years, in the yearly Elks Tournament, there is an "official committee" that starts things, and an "unofficial committee" who voluntarily helps with whatever they can, from calling friends to make a team to contacting sponsors or bringing goodies to the golf course, to encouraging other players to make more teams.

So, before getting to the results, let's all thank and congratulate Ann Cowan and her committee (to the best of my knowledge, Don Birdwell, Gary Jennings, Rob Muncrief, Charlie Kauk, Aaron Kauk, Craig Martin, Rusty Wilson among others) and anyone else who helped, for their truly hard work in getting this tournament "on the books", and in the column titled "successful" which netted at least $6,500 for the local Elks Lodge.

Thirty four teams (one hundred and thirty six players) played this year's event which at the end, were divided into four flights: A,B,C & D. One of the rules of this tournament that makes it for an exciting finish, is that all ties up to a third place finish, are decided by a playoff on the course. There is no "splitting" of payoffs. And for this reason, there are usually several playoffs, usually watched by many of players who participated in the tournament or members of Elk City Golf & Country Club, or friends and family of the players. THERE IS NEVER A PLAYOFF THAT IS NOT WATCHED BY AT LEAST 10 PEOPLE, AND IN MOST CASES BY 50 PEOPLE OR MORE!

On Saturday, there was one playoff for 2nd and 3rd places on the "A" (two 52's) , "B" (two 58's) and "D" (two 67's), all three of which among two teams. The largest playoff consisted of five teams who tied for first place in the "C" flight with 61. It was actually six teams who tied for first in "C", but one of the teams had left before the playoff. It was this playoff that started last, and therefore, the one Mona and I went to watch after posting all scores. By the time we got to the first tee, two of the playoffs had ended and the players and spectators of those, had come to watch this five team playoff.

To my recollection, there has not been a more competitive and fun playoff to watch, not to mention "a more fitting end" of sorts. More of that at the end, for now, here are the results:

1st (49) - "Digger's Diggers": Craig Martin, Rusty Wilson, Aaron Kauk, Bret Matlock
2nd (52) - "Matt Salazar": Matt Salazar, Chris Martin, Erik Fix,
3rd (52) - "GunkelKlan": Paul Gunkel, Dustin Gunkel, Dustin Mahoney, Clint Hughes

1st (57) - "Wolf Flips" - Brad Spitzer, Robert Lakey, Jamie Lakey, Danny Crabb
2nd (58) - "Dodson's Construction" - Greg Dodson, Charlie Kauk, Joe Wynn, Brandon Thomas
3rd (58) - "Fmilia": Kim Jordan, Brandon Engel, Will Malloy, Heath Martin

1st (61) - "Proud Dad": Wes Marshall, Tasha Marshall, Krystal Marshall, Jaryn Rainey
2nd (61) - P.O.L.P.: Gaylan Edwards, Randall Wright, Leon Stuart, David Poole
3rd (61) - "Cowan": Ann Cowan, Cooper Cowan, Michael Cowan, Butch Golsberyy
T4th (61) - "Stone's Pebbles": Terry Stone, Nick Hall, Robert Williams, Evan McElheney and
"Hylton's": Billy Bashaw, Brian Markham, Ky Markham, Rayden Markham
Missed Playoff: "3/4's Millers": Bob Miller, Drew Miller, Casey Miller, Jesse Arrowwood

1st (66) - "Route 66 Car Sales" - Josh Shinault, J.L. Shinault, Kaith Carter, Aaron Long
2nd (67) - "Dunn's Are Not Done" - Darrell Dunn, Bobby Dunn, Chad Armante, Steven Dusek
3rd (67) - "KECO's Very Best": Amber Brewer, Tori Windsor, Kathy Bell, Kristy Lovelace


The rules for playoff in the Elks Tournament call for each team to play alternate shots. If a tie persists, teams drop a player per each hole tied.

There were 6 teams tied for first in the "C" flight, all tied with 61's. One team did not make the playoff ("3/4's Millers"). Three pars on #10 and two bogeys, left three teams "in the money" fighting for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.

On #11, "Cowan" ran into trouble and made a double bogey, finishing in third place.

But the real fun was just beginning...
#11 "How did that stay out?" David Poole and the POLP team
react to a narrow miss. Proud Dad now had to make one
from 7 feet to continue. And they did.
On their third shot, "Proud Dad"'s team (without Proud Dad himself, who had been dropped after #10) had gone over the green on #11 and had a tough downhill chip coming back, while "P.O.L.P." had a relatively easy 25 footer for birdie straight uphill. David Poole narrowly missed his birdie putt, meanwhile, "Proud Dad" had chipped to a tough seven footer for par, that Jarym Rainey "lipped in" to continue the playoff.

On #12, Tasha Marshall and Randall Wright hit pretty nice tee shots, both long and on the left side of the fairway, both David Poole and Jaryn hit nice shots on the green, with Poole's ball about ten feet longer than Jaryn's. Randall Wright putted to a virtual "tap-in" par, while Tasha left Jaryn another tester from about 4-5 feet, which she handled perfectly: dead center.

#13: When you have to make a 12 footer to continue a playoff
and you make it... emotions run high!
On #13, each team only had one player left, Tasha for "Proud Dad" and David Poole for "POLP". David hit first and did very well from 210 yards, leaving himself a 10 footer for birdie. Tasha, from about 150, hit to the back of the green to about 45 feet. Her first putt went by by about 12 feet, and had to hit her third shot before David hit his second shot. She made it dead center. David putted his a couple of feet short, and there they went to #14.

On #14, they both hit good tee shots, and again, both hit the green in regulation, and again, David inside Tasha, whose 25 footer lipped out leaving a tap-in for par. David's 15 footer attempt was short by about 3 1/2 feet and then missed, giving Tasha and "Proud Dad" the win in the "C" flight.

It was pretty neat following and witnessing good shots, especially great pressure putting. What Jaryn did on #11 and #12, and Tasha on #13 and #14, is not usually the outcome in other playoffs, most of which I have witnessed, miss those putts outside  4-5 feet to lose the hole, especially when the opponent is already in, and you have to make to continue the playoff, as it was the case from #11 to #13... and the case on #14, when David blinked and missed a short one to fail to advance to #15.

It is worth mentioning that "Proud Dad" ended up being a pretty good name for a team that Wes Marshall put together with his two daughters and a close friend  who has been "almost like adopted" into the family. First, Wes decided to get dropped after the first hole and left it up to the girls to win ("WISE DAD"?)... and make dad proud, which I'm sure, they did! CONGRATULATIONS!

P.S. I don't have all the teams' pictures because I had the pleasure of playing myself in the tournament (with our usual team of Keith Hulen, Kaleb Keith and my wife Mona, all of whom made my day on the golf course a great day! thank you!)