My fellow Americans, I apologize.
For myself, and my teammates. We, this motley gaggle of gimpy golf scribes from the state of Washington, did our country wrong last weekend, losing badly to Canada in an international golf competition called the Writers' Cup.
The event, which was staged in beautiful Whistler, British Columbia, featured three days of Ryder Cup-style competition on four fabulous golf courses, all within a 30-minute drive of The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which provided food and lodging for players from both teams.
Television rights to the inaugural Writers' Cup went unclaimed - with good reason.
This tournament, a brainchild of the public relations department of the host resort, was more about promoting tourism in the area than it was about golf.
Invitations were sent to golf writers, not golfers. Which means the two teams were comprised primarily of overweight, double-digit handicappers with reporter's notebooks in their back pockets.
Only the format resembled the Ryder Cup. There were no team uniforms, although they did equip us with team hats that had our names embroidered on the back. And there was an extremely un-Ryder- Cup-like hospitality cart, stocked with adult beverages and Cuban cigars, that made regular stops to check on each foursome.
The four courses we played were spectacular. We opened with singles competition at Nicklaus North Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus signature course on the shore of Green Lake.
We played foursomes on Saturday morning at the Whistler Golf Club, which was designed by Arnold Palmer, and then bused nearly 30 minutes to the Robert Cupp-designed Big Sky Golf & Country Club at the base of Mt. Currie to play our four-ball matches on Saturday afternoon.
We played a final round of singles matches at Chateau Whistler Golf Club, a Robert Trent Jones creation, on Sunday morning then capped off the event with an awards luncheon.
Crow was the main menu item for us humbled Yanks, who went down tp defeat 14-1/2-9-1/2. At the awards luncheon, we rehashed the three fun-filled days and tried to figure out what went wrong. Someone suggested a "home-course advantage," but I had a different take on things.
I mean, let's face it. This wasn't exactly Dream Team IV, the organizers threw together for the good ol' U.S. of A.
One of our guys, the golf writer at the Seattle Post- Intelligencer, showed up with an ice bag strapped to his knee. Another had his right wrist taped to pre-title bout density; carpal tunnel, I think he said. And a third played left-handed, with actual wooden woods - driver through 5, no kidding.
Still, I stepped to the first tee on Friday afternoon with visions of a Yankee victory bouncing around my brain. I was already picturing us in Sunday's fading twilight, celebrating madly on the second-story deck of the clubhouse, shaking our champagne bottles and squirting the high-priced bubbly on the admiring masses huddled below.
Then I topped my opening drive into a small pond in front of the green.
Nerves, no doubt. But any apprehensions I might have harbored about being in over my head, competitively, were quickly eased when my partner and our two Canadian opponents all yanked their opening tees shots out of bounds.
In the true spirit of the game, but in gross violation of its sacred rules, we all shared a good laugh and marched forward to the red tee boxes to play our second balls - without penalty.
Hey, what's a couple of strokes in a friendly competition between rival nations?
We all fared better with our second drives, but that hardly signaled an end to the bad golf.
How bad was it?
Consider this: I opened my singles round on Sunday by fanning my drive O.B. right, played the first four holes 6 over par and was still 1-up on my opponent - mainly because I was the only one in my foursome still playing the same ball I had started with.
I guess the fact that everyone involved still managed to thoroughly enjoy the weekend proves that not even bad golf - or losing to Canada in a sport not played on ice, for that matter - can ruin a great golfing experience at a great golfing destination.
This sidebar appeared with the story:
Esmeralda Golf Course
E. 3933 Courtland
Spokane, WA 99207
Blue - 6,249 yards, 69.2/114 (men); 74.8/120 (women)
White - 6,015 yards, 68.2/112 (men); 73.5/118 (women)
Red - 5,594 yards, 66.2/107 (men); 71.0/112 (women)
Par: Men - 70; women - 71
Greens fees: $20 for 18, $14.50 for nine. With $35 discount card, $15 and $12. Senior rates available for golfers 65 and over with discount card. Junior rates available for golfers 17 and under.
Tee time policy: Call one day in advance for weekdays. For weekends, call previous Saturday.
Directions to course: From Interstate-90, take Freya-Thor exit north to Euclid. Turn right at Euclid and head east to Freya.
Continue north on Freya to Courtland and turn right. Parking lot and clubhouse will be on the left.
From north side, take Division to Wellesley and turn left. Continue east to Freya and turn right at four-way stop. Drive past golf course, which appears on the left, and turn left on Courtland. Parking lot and clubhouse will be on the left.
Head professional: Bill Warner
Assistants: Chad Gaffaney and Rex Schultz
This short, relatively flat, city-owned layout opened in Spokane's Hillyard neighborhood in 1957 and has earned a reputation of being one of the busiest and easiest in the region. But as the trees that line so many of its fairways have matured, so has the entire course, which has been affectionately labeled as "Easy Ezzy" by many of the locals. Today, it ranks as, perhaps, the most underrated of Spokane's municipal courses. Despite the amount of play it receives, Esmeralda seems to hold up remarkably well, season after season, and presents golfers of all skill levels with difficult and interesting challenges in a parklike setting.
No. 7. This 455-yard monster, which doglegs left to a sloping green that is protected on the left by a wooded hillside and at the rear by a couple of pine trees, is as demanding as any par-4 in town. It requires length and accuracy off the tee and forces shorter hitters to favor the right side of the fairway with their drives, just to be able to see around the trees that line the entire left side of the fairway. Any drive down the left tree line must carry 240-plus yards to reach the elbow of the dogleg. Par, here, is nothing more than a rumor to the majority of golfers.
No. 9. A small bit of relief might seem appropriate following the difficult 7th and the demanding 223-yard, par-3 8th, but Esmeralda's front nine deserves a more interesting finish than this straight- ahead par-4 that plays a mere 342 yards down a flat, wide-open fairway. A long iron off the tee is enough to put most players within a 9-iron or wedge of the putting surface, and then it's just a matter of reading a receptive, medium-size green that slopes from back to front.
Don't kid yourself. "Ezzy" is no longer all that easy - especially if you're looking to break par. Because of the course's limited use of sand and lack of water hazards, big numbers can usually be avoided. But with two par-3s that measure more than 200 yards and five par-4s that play 390-plus, this wonderfully maintained municipal course has plenty of bite. Its traditional design and relatively flat terrain also make it easy to walk. And the price, like that at most of the region's public courses, is right.
(Out of possible five stars)
To view a rich-media slide show on Esmeralda Golf Course, go to www.spokesmanreview.com/golf
Copyright 2002 Cowles Publishing Company
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.