You know it’s a hot day when you reach the beverage cart and are greeted by this question: “How many Gatorades would you like?”
On the hottest day of the hottest week of the year, a group of semi-amateur golfers teed it up at Pine Ridge Golf Course for a chance to develop heat stroke and win the coveted title of WBAL-TV Golf Champion. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured although egos were certainly bruised.
Arriving at the course before the competitors, I ran into the Pine Ridge group who couldn’t have been more hospitable. John, Tom, Jim and the rest of the staff ran a top-notch tournament for a bunch of weekend warriors. I’m certain the six participants felt like they were playing in a real tournament.
WBAL-TV Anchors Mindy Basara and Lisa Robinson were on-hand to provide extensive commentary on the events. Even though they didn’t know the difference between a fairway and a 4-iron, both had a wonderful time asking questions that most golfers wouldn’t even imagine — and getting some very interesting answers. For example, 11 Sports’ Pete Gilbert thinks he’s about a 0.2 on a scale of 0-10 on how he would stack up to Tiger Woods on the golf course, but assures everyone that he’s a much, much better father.
The roster for this exclusive event was as follows: Pete Gilbert, Tony Pann, Jayne Miller, Lowell Melser, Stan Stovall and Tom Tasselmyer. Pete, Lowell and Tony all arrived well before the scheduled 12:30 tee time to work on their swing at the driving range. All three put in an extensive warm-up period in the blazing heat, which ultimately may have been their undoing late in the competition. Jayne, Stan and Tom arrived about 15 minutes before the start of the round and got in a few swings to loosen up.
The rules for the 9-hole challenge were involved. Two groups of three players would eliminate a member after the fourth hole, seventh hole and ninth hole ending up with a champion.
Confused? So was the rules committee at the event!
Stan Stovall certainly dressed the part for the event. Looking like a PGA Tour golfer, Stovall may need to work on his swing on the course. Suffering a maximum score on the first hole played, Stovall felt the pressure right out of the gate. Stan has a most unique putting stance. Before following through his pendulum motion, and regardless of the length of the putt, Stan peddles back and waits to celebrate a made putt. This happened roughly 15 times. He made one 10-footer, I think. They say if you can hit one good shot on the golf course then they day spent was well worth it. Stan certainly had his one shining moment.
Jayne Miller entered the tournament with the same enthusiasm she exudes in her I-Team stories. She’s out to win. Jayne made a mess of her first hole and needed to beat Tony Pann in a chip-off on the 4th hole to stay in the hunt. Miller flew a chip shot to the fringe of the green and prayed that Pann wouldn’t give her an early exit from the tournament. Tony knocked his chip shot almost equidistant on the other side of the green which required an official measurement to see which competitor would advance to the next round. Miller lost by about a quarter of a flagstick and she was the second contestant out of the tournament. An outstanding golfer, Jayne didn’t take her advantage from the red tees and played from the men’s tees during the entire competition.
Tony Pann promptly took all of his good fortune and put on a chipping display that would make every golf fan cringe. Pann needed a bevy of strokes to make it on the green in the 6th hole of the competition. Pann’s good humor (and overall good play) made him a crowd favorite, but he couldn’t catch up to his fellow meteorologist at the next elimination stage. Tasselmyer eliminated Pann on the 7th and landed a spot in the final. In the other semifinal match, event organizer Pete Gilbert took a disastrous trip into the drink against Lowell Melser. Gilbert’s water ball opened the door for Melser into the final round. Even though he’s quite possibly the better golfer of the group, Gilbert struggled with the obvious pressure of a local golf tournament on an empty course.
It all came down to Lowell and Tom for the coveted WBAL-TV Golf Challenge Trophy. On the penultimate hole, both competitors had a putt for par. Lowell couldn’t grab the par and The Chief took a one stroke advantage to the 18th hole. Both golfers hit wayward drives before reaching the massive par 5 in the sizzling playing conditions. In the end, Tasselmyer was just too tough for Melser. Tom sank a 4-footer and raised his hands in victory. Accepting the trophy Tasselmyer called it “the pinnacle of his career” through a 105 degree educed smile.
Here’s hoping to another interesting day on the links next year. Maybe we’ll schedule it in May.