“You’ve obviously been on vacation,” said the receptionist at Catch Basin, our Kansas City headquarters.
I chuckled. “Did my tan give me away?”
“No,” she said, reaching for her coat. “But you haven’t checked your voice mail for two weeks, and we couldn’t reach you when the cat died. I closed out the petty cash account in lieu of severance. You’ll find my resignation letter on your desk.”
The last I saw of her, through the glass entry doors, she was dancing in little circles on the way to her car.
But the receptionist — I forget her name — was right about my being on vacation. Once or twice a year I put my Top 50 obligations on hold to devote all my time and energy to my first love: competitive golf.
Last week, for example, I anchored the Sports Illustrated/Golf.com team to a 9-6 shellacking of the GOLF Magazine staff at the Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Playing for the first time at the venerable Dunes Golf and Beach Club, I scored two out of a possible three points and shared MVP honors with dot-commie Billy Tucker. (“Well done,” said a gracious David Denunzio, GOLF’s captain. “You have been reported to the handicapping committee.”)
Should I be playing tournament golf on the eve of the all-important Indian Summer golf season? Yes, I should. The Top 50 is the world’s most credible course-ranking site because our raters are more than sparkling intellects and polished writers; we are also tournament-hardened, trophy-grasping, spotlight-seeking sportsmen.
Today, for example, our Pennsylvania ratings director, Gary Van Sickle, fired a first-round 77 at the USGA Senior Amateur Championship in Manakin-Sabor, Va. If Gary survives a weekend of medal play and then rumbles through the 64-man match-play brackets, he will copy the feat of Atlantic Coast ratings chief Dave Henson, who recently blew away six opponents on his way to the Palmetto Hall Plantation Club Handicap Match Play title.
“Tournament experience may not be a requirement if you rate courses for Golf Digest,” Dave said in a statement issued through his web site. “You’ll have to ask their editors why not.”
Next up on my tournament schedule: The St. Francis Xavier Charity Scramble, Sept. 25, at 51st-ranked Swope Memorial Golf Course, Kansas City, Mo.
Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but Britain & Ireland have taken a 7-5 lead over the U.S. going into the final day of the Walker Cup at Scotland’s Royal Aberdeen links. Our U.K. ratings director, Gary Van Sickle, calls the venue “a classic and wild links course.”