Sandbaggers vs. Martinez Golf Association Newsletter
E-Mail, Chris Ryan

The 2nd year in a town, the Sandbaggers and Martinez Golf Association played against each other in American Canyon... just to be clear, while we all think of the Chardonnay and Eagle Vines courses as being in Napa, they are officially in the city of American Canyon... these days.

Last year the venue was the older Chardonnay track and this year Eagle Vines hosted us. They made us feel welcome and their course was in great shape. The vineyards are just starting to turn golden... the next few weeks should see stunning vineyard foliage.

Each club fielded 6 two person teams and would play combo tees and play the front nine in Best Ball format and the back nine in Alternate Shot format.

Jim Landers and I were the 2nd team out for the Sandbaggers. Chuck Martin & Dave Penney opened the festivities off the first tee. The other teams were (#3) Wayne Bonnington & Brian Reeg, (#4) Robert Nguyen (pinch hitting for Joe Abriol who was sent out of town on business) & Dave Neilsen, (#5) Noel D’Souza & Terry Hartburg, (#6) Bill To & Nick Polo. Because of date change a month or so back, quite a few members were not able to play as they committed to the Un Gala at Sea Ranch this weekend.

Jim & I would play two “young guns” - Travis Hensley - an 8 handicap - and Garrett Eaton - a 17 handicap. Travis was the low handicap in the entire event and has apparently won the Martinez Club’s Championship more than once.

So, we had our hands full.

Off the first tee on the opening par 5, Jim & I both found fairway and I punched a 4h across the creek to the 2nd fairway safely. Jim donated a ball to said creek. At 126 yards to the front flag, I hit a lovely 9i right at it and it landed 7’ below the cup and spun off the green. Still, my birdie putt from the fringe looked darn good but par was had. Travis birdied... Setting the solid tone of competition.

2 is a par 3 across water and played around 135 yards Sunday. My 8i looked very good but caught the mid green slope and spun down to 25’ from the cup. I was the only one on the green. My first putt had the correct speed but incorrect line and left of 7’ for par. I hit that putt firm and it found the bottom of the cup. That won the hole for us as the rest of the group bogeyed.

The 3rd hole runs through the vineyards and I pumped what looked like a great drive just left of the mid fairway bunker. It found sand. Jim hit fairway metal down the right side and then a wedge on the correct tier for a great look at birdie - and he converted it! I managed to smoke a 9i from the bunker to the green and grab par but Jim gave us the lead... We. Thought. Garrett shot par and with a stroke, no blood was spilt.

The longish par 4 4th saw me split the fairway with a 250 yard drive. My 9i failed to climb onto the green. Jim’s drive danced with the cart path and his 2nd also came up shy. I would chip & putt successfully for par and Jim bogeyed. Garrett flirted with the next hole when his 2nd shot went far left... But Travis kept them in the match with par.

4 decent tee shots on the par 3 5th saw me furthest away as mine trickled off the right side of the green. I powered the putt 8’ past and bogeyed. But Jim was more capable here and claimed a lovely par so we did not lose the hole.

The par 5 6th saw Garrett crush a drive, only to be in the 3rd fairway. Travis’ drive was center cut, as were Jim’s and mine.... But Travis gained the green in 2 and took the hole with birdie to Jim’s well played par. I donated a ball to the lake on a poorly hit 8i to the green. Bogey for me.

Travis continued to impress off the tee on 7 as his ball crested the hill and rolled well down. My drive was center cut too, just 60 yards shy of his. I bogeyed after my 2nd was held up in the breezes. Jim donated a ball and had a double bogey.

Nine is strangely “after the turn” - a dogleg left par 5. Travis cleared the corner guarding tree...! Jim was left of said tree and I was in the fairway but behind it. I poked a 3m from 220 yards through the gap left of the tree and the shot stopped 2’ from the green. Travis’ 2nd was just off the rear of the green. I chipped my 3rd to 14’ assuming I was working towards par. And after his chip scooted well past the cup, I drained the birdie putt to take the hole.

Nonetheless, they beat us on the front side 1 up. 
My 40 tells a good story, Jim shot 44.

Moving to Alternate Shot, we decided I would start off the 10th tee, giving me the par 3 tee balls... I blasted a drive on 10 straight past the corner and gave Jim 125 yards to the front flag . Jim’s 2nd sailed long and was never found... assumably, it entered the creek. So after a drop, I popped a wedge to 5’ and Jim putted our bogey putt home... But we were down one after one.

Jim drove on the par 5 11th a dogleg right with a fairway not that wide. His ball was closer to the 10th fairway than the 11th. I had an uphill lie and was over 300 yards away and hit my 3m decently over most of the trees but still left Jim 170 yards to the green. He fired his 5i nicely but it hit the green and kept traveling- into the rear bunker. We did win the hole after Garrett’s tee shot left the course. Back to even...

12 is a short par 4 that requires a ball in the fairway. Travis seemed to run out and place his at thew perfect spot (with an 8i)... I hit 4h to a safe spot. Jim then lofted a 9i perfectly over the creek and trees and it hit right and above the cup but trickled down to the correct level, leaving me a 12’ birdie try. I made the putt and we won the hole. Jim & Chris up 1...

13 saw Jim master the tee ball, to fairway center, leaving 134 yards to the front flag. I elected to hit 7i uphill and the shot looked good until the fade took over and it found sand. Jim popped it out nicely and my putt from 17’ side stepped the cup - Bogey for us. They parred and we were back to square.
The par 3 14th hole is an island grPlaying downhill and with the winds helping some, I went 8i and sadly chunked it... It found grass but gave Jim a tricky chip. Meanwhile Travis found the green and this hole looked like a win for them. Jim chunked his chip and it looked even more certain. I chipped excellently to 4’ and Jim rolled the bogey putt home . Still we expected to lose this hole. But uncharacteristically, they 3 putted and we lost nothing. 

Jim drove through the fairway on 15 and I pulled a downhill 90 yard shot into the bunker. Jim’s sandy was lovely, leaving me a 9’ par try - and I rolled it home. We took that one after Garrett made a couple of poor shots.

The last par 3, 16 saw me hit 6i and hit it the perfect distance - just landed left of the green and sadly it bounced towards the lake. Travis dropped one on the green 17’ right of the cup. We found my ball in the thick salad and Jim played a PERFECT flop shot over the flag to 10’....! Sadly for all the putts I had made, this one I missed, we bogeyed the they won the hole to take it back to all square with 2 to play.

Jim’s tee ball found cart path on 17, then fairway.... leaving me 106 yards to the flag. Garrett lost his drive in the right creek. I put the 2nd shot on the green, 15’ from the flag. Jim got the putt to 4’... and I stubbed the par putt... That was equaled by Travis & Garrett and we went to 18 all square.

I pounded a drive over the left edge of the fairway bunker, leaving Jim 150 yards to the middle and 160 to the rear pin... But the oak guarding the green blocked a lot of the line to the flag. Travis’ drive was nothing short of AMAZING.... 320 yards over the trees, bunkers and corner, leaving Garrett less than 80 yards to the flag. But he too had to go over the tree. Jim’s 7i found the front edge of the green, leaving 40’ for me to putt. Garrett successfully flew the tree but was 7’ into the rear rough. My putt raced 10’ past leaving Jim a par try from the rear of the green. Travis’ superior chip still rolled 6’ past and Garrett was left with that for their par. Jim then answered all questions with an exclamation point my dropping the par putt. Now the pressure was on the youngsters... and Garrett missed... Match over! We took the back nine point and they the front nine.

The Martinez Golf Association would claim the event 8-4. Only Wayne and Brian would win both their points for the Sandbaggers. Chuck Martin & Dave Penney split their match for the other Sandbagger point.

A great day of competitive golf with like minded players... Everyone wants to do it again!

And so it shall be!

Next up - Monarch Bay with the Sandbaggers next Sunday.

Cheers!  Chris

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