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Season opener

Eben Harrell

On Saturday the Men’s and Women’s Golf Clubs had their season-opening tournament at the Aspen Golf Course.

Although Aspen is a public course, local golfers have organized the two clubs as a way of hooking up with other golfers throughout the summer. They host several tournaments, including this weekend’s “kick-off classic.”

The clubs are decidedly nonexclusive – a willingness to share a cold one after a round is perhaps the only requisite for membership.

I had to smile when I arrived early to warm up for the shotgun start. It was a little different atmosphere than most of the tournaments I play in – U.S. Open qualifiers, state stroke play championships, etc. In those ultra-competitive events, you look down the range and see a line of cookie-cutter swings, each startling similar, launching high draws into the ether.

Let’s just say the range had a tad more “character” on Saturday. A shank here, a banana slice there – Aspen golfers grimacing, heaving and hacking their way to pre-round discouragement.

A little over four hours later, however, as Shlomo’s restaurant started to fill with smiling faces, it became clear that the men’s club is not about low scores. It’s not about birdies, but buddies, about sharing the experience of this most challenging game.

I was almost embarrassed to come in with a one under par 70, as if to play that well was to miss the point. I won the tournament by six shots, but my conversations at the bar afterward were decidedly short: No shanks to giggle about, no mishaps to report, heartbreak to recount.

The experience had erased any hints of the snobbery I felt earlier in the day. This was real golf, and I can’t wait to play in the next men’s club event.

The tournament prize winners were: Men’s Gross: me (70), Patrick Lyle (76), Dave Stapelton and Gary Snyder (77). Men’s Net: George Huggins (70), Ron Erickson (71), Jamie Knowlton (72). Women’s Gross: Kelly Badeau (81). Women’s Net: Pam Duke (74), Gywn Knowlton (78) and Mary Woulfe (78).

Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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