Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus and Woods are forever inked in the chapters of golf’s greatest moments. This golf story however is about the less-celebrated foursome of Joe, Gregg, Mike and Elvis. Like a gallon of milk — this bizarre golf tale has the shelf life of about three weeks. It created a buzz and roar in real-time, but will eventually burn and fade like Texas putting greens in August.
The scene for the bank-shot heard round the world happened at Stevens Park Golf Course in Dallas, Texas. There are a few quality “munis” in “Big D”, there’s Tenison Park Golf Course where Lee Trevino hustled many a fool, and Stevens Park just west of downtown in North Oak Cliff. Stevens is one of the better municipal golf courses anywhere. It’s not Bethpage or Torrey Pines, but it’s better than 90-percent of Uncle Sam-owned tracks. It feels like a neighborhood private club with its massive oaks, quality conditions, charming little streams and rolling terrain. Its golf cart drive-through veranda with perched views of the golf course is perfect for post-round beers and lunch. All it needs is a swimming pool and a few hundred complaining members and it’s C.C.-ready.
We played in late May and the golf course was healthy. The fairways were fluffy, the greens were honest and the trees were happy. Stevens Park isn’t an extremely long golf course, but will sting an unknowing first-timer with its doglegs and hidden creeks. Hit something about 220-yards off the tee on the short par four 3rd hole — a 280-yard driver will certainly be lost in the woods with the squirrels.
The Elvis and Gregg vs. Mike and Joe pillow fight match started on the back nine. The foursome plodded along in match-play exchanging points without either side taking the reigns. A carryover on the par 5 16th put pressure on the team of Mike and Joe. A win by Elvis and the match was over. Elvis and Joe hit decent approaches and had birdie putts on the 17th, an uphill par 3 that plays about 140-yards.
Joe had 40-feet for birdie and played first. He fanned a horrendous putt that settled about 12-feet short. Elvis had a 30-footer and countered with a comparably poor effort that rendered a leave of about five-feet. A frustrated Elvis, he paused for a moment to question the meaning of life and other darkness typically evoked by the possibility of a three-putt. An opportunistic Joe pounced before Elvis could mark his ball and addressed his 12-foot par saver. The unthinkable happened when Joe hit an even worse putt than the first and missed the hole by three-feet. His par effort was so bad it careened off Elvis’ ball, redirected for the hole, nearly lipped out and dropped for par. Not only did Joe extend the match, but put the pressure on Elvis to make his putt and force a carryover. Rattled and confused, Elvis regrouped and made the four-footer to extend the match.
As if neither team wanted to win — bogeys by Elvis and Joe on the 18th forced a closest to the hole putting contest to settle the game. A far cry from Ben Crenshaw, Gregg added another plot-twist when he cozied his playoff-putt to a foot from the hole to seal the deal for Team Elvis and Gregg.
Meaningless matches like this one with little miracles, clutch moments and flukes are part of golf’s genius. The game offers so many lessons: expect the unexpected and don’t count your chickens before they hatch.