Last week The Pipeline Show crew (Millard, Flaming and The Sports Doctor, Taylor Medak) hit the road and went to Jasper. Also along for the ride were some of Millard's buddies (who I am pleased to say are now my buddies too) and of course nepotism at its best meant a couple of our siblings were around as well.
In all there were 8 golfers; the TPS crew and: Prince George Cougars Assistant GM Wade Klippenstein... PGTV sports icon Allan Bristowe... Shawn Blustein of J&J Wholesale Auto... My older brother Kevin Flaming from DLM Consulting and last but certainly not least... Warrant Officer Derek Millard who is stationed here at CFB Edmonton.
It was a diverse group of golfers - a few guys who play a lot, some hardly at all and a few that fall somewhere in between. In all, we played 72 holes of golf inside of a 36 hour period at the famed Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course - two rounds each day separated by a fabulous stay in the Outlook Cabin.
Here now are 5 memories from the The 2009 TPS Invitational Golf Classic...
5. Out of Bounds???
Listen, everyone knows there is some wagering done on the golf course and this outing was no different. In our final round of the trip, our group of players was down to 7 as Bristowe had to bolt back to P.G. for work. We decided to split the remaining 7 into a trio of teams for a quicker round of "best ball". The rivalry between the Bluestein/Millard and the Klippenstein/Millard pair was evident - Dean needed a clutch drive on the 12th hole to push the pot and came through but it was the last bit of good news for he and Klipper.
As Derek and Shawn sat back and enjoyed watching Wade and Dean's downward spiral towards poverty, Klippenstein and Millard kept up their mantra of: "Double or Nothing?"
"A gentleman would at least give us a chance to win our money back" said Millard as he tried to convince his older brother and Blustein to allow them another kick at the can. The winning duo were only too pleased to give Dean and Wade more rope with which they could hang themselves.
Cue the 18th hole - a downhill dog-leg to the left that tempts long hitters to cut the corner to the green at the risk of several lakeside cabins.
With Derek's power drive securing he and his partner in fine position, the pressure was on for Dean and Klip to respond. Dean's drive was not unlike a routine pop-fly, an easy out at Skydome and potentially the final nail in their wagering coffin. However, Klippenstein had been wielding a big driver all day and only needed to connect one more time to keep them in contention.
As The WHL exec watched his ball sail over the treed corner and towards certain disaster among the cars, campers and kids to the left, all hope seemed lost. So the duo decided to hit a provisional ball which ended up sitting perfectly in the middle of the fairway, the lie you would assume they would play from but... you'd be wrong.
Above is the view from near the green where the rest of us waited many long and painful minutes as the team debated playing the provisional or Klippenstein's original drive which, as it turned out, was simply buried in pine cones and tree shrapnel instead of someone's windshield. (Take note of what side of the fence they're on).
Somehow Millard found a way to not only get out of the extreme rough and onto the green but he planted it well within birdie territory of the hole to boot. Suffice to say the end result was another push and so the damage to their wallets didn't get any worse. A hell of a shot on the final hole of the trip.
4. Trophy Presentation
It was decided early on that the overall winner of the trip would be the guy who had the lowest score in any single round. Bristowe, The Sports Doctor and I brought up the rear while the other 5 guys appeared to be in contention for the coveted top prize. Blustein scored three consecutive rounds of 89, the mark of consistency (otherwise known as a lack of improvement). Klippenstein's best loop was 87 Followed by the brothers Millard with scores of 86 (Dean) and 85 (Derek).
The best round of the trip belonged to Kevin who came in with a 40-41-81 after the first go around. As impressive a score as that is, it should be noted that Kevin not only overcame the same gene pool as me but that it was only his second time out this year. An 81 at JPL is pretty darn good!
As the event came to a close and we prepared for the journey back to Edmonton, some guys hit the pro shop for souvenir hats while others sought out the men's lockeroom to jettison some excess cargo before the 3.5-hour ride home. It was there that we found a rather official looking trophy on display and decided to have an impromptu ceremony to crown the winner of the 1st Pipeline Show Invitational.
That would be me on the left presenting the trophy to my "big" brother Kevin.
3. The 13-Strokes Golf Academy
As anyone on this trip will attest to, I'm not a great golfer. I do OK... every second drive is acceptable, chipping is decent, putting usually pretty good. I shot a 49 on the front nine and I was happy. I followed that up with a 51 on the back for an even 100... my best round.
Dean on the other hand is what I would call a very good golfer. He can spank the ball out there, his approach shots are accurate and his putting is pretty precise.
But even the best of golfers can have an off hole... as his scorecard revealed during day 1. Here is his recap of that memorable half an hour spent on hole #10:
1-Topped one 10 feet off the tee into some long grass.
2-Took unplayable (one penalty stroke) as I knew I couldn’t get it out of the grass and over the pond in front of us. However I thought I would be able to tee it up again. I couldn’t. First decision making mistake.
3-Hit driver off the deck, into the water. One stroke penalty
5.Hit 5 wood, pushed it into the woods on the left.
6-Was told by Al Bristowe (my longtime trusted friend) that he found my Callaway. Chipped it out onto the fairway.
8-Realized it wasn’t my ball. 2-stroke penalty. 2nd decision making mistake, should have made sure it was my ball.
9-Was still about 310 out. Hit 5 wood. Landed about 100 out.
10-Sand Wedge misses green to the right, near but not in bunker.
11-Chip on passed hole to about 10 feet.
12-Came up 2 inches short on first putt.
13-tap in for 13.
Yes folks... a 13. Shades of Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy himself. But to his credit, Deano dusted himself off and went on to have a strong back nine. I also have to tip my hat to him for being a man about it and filling out his card correctly - Honesty is always the best policy... even when it's downright embarrassing. Still, the 13 on Wednesday made the 11 he scored on Day 2 look almost respectable!
Now this particular item doesn't actually occur on the golf course but it came about at the end of the trip and definitely is a memory I won't soon forget.
We stopped in Hinton, AB to grab a bite to eat and it was decided that we'd hit up a fast food joint so we could just eat and run. The 7 Edmonton-bound golfers were split in two vehicles with Dean and Klippenstein in a car and the rest of us in a 12-passenger van (courtesy J&J Wholesale Auto). The guys piled out of the van and went inside the local A&W restaurant while Klipper and Deano decided to beat us out via the drive thru.
However, their fast lane theory wasn't panning out thanks to the person wearing the headset...
"Can you repeat that please?"
"I'm sorry but we've run out of cheese for the cheeseburgers, is that OK?"
Finally Klipper, nearing the end of his rope, said: "OK, I'm going to start over and I'm going to say this really slowly..."
Little did Klip or Dean know that inside the A&W, Blustein had convinced one of the employees to let him on the headset and he was the guy taking their order and screwing them around. Those of us inside the restaurant, including the real employees, were killing ourselves until Shawn finally let them off the hook by walking out the door to the drive-thru to reveal the truth.
1. JPL Hospitality
The trip was a major success for several reasons but the biggest was definitely because of how we were treated by all of the people who work at JPL that helped to make our visit a memorable one.
Now I'm just speaking for myself here when I say this because I know that most of the guys with me on the trip have been to a lot of top courses and so they might have been expecting the treatment we got. For me though it was a new experience and here's how it went:
We rolled up in the van and were greeted by a couple of guys who promptly unloaded our clubs for us and put them on our carts. We put on our shoes, grabbed a couple clubs and our complimentary bucket of balls and hit the range for a warm up. As our tee off time approached we walked back up to our carts where we were greeted by Courtney, the lovely and pleasant hostess who kept all the groups heading out at the right time.
The course itself was in outstanding condition. The fairways were smooth and soft like a carpet (or so I'm told, I didn't find one until the afternoon). The greens were consistently tough but fair and the pin placements were often challenging.
Thankfully for me (in the cart above) and for Taylor (The Sports Doctor), it's a pretty wide course for the most part. Both of us have artfully assimilated our banana slices into our game so we were able to arc our drives well out of bounds before seeing them safely drop onto the short grass.
The weather was fantastic, 23C and 27C, with just a touch of light showers on day two. Of course the scenery is as amazing as you could possibly ask for - the Rocky Mountains provide a backdrop that makes even the worst tee shot look beautiful... for a minute.
Beverage girls Erica and Jen were never to busy to shoot the shit and kept their snickering to an inaudible level when I hammered two consecutive drives into the ladies tee box on hole #3.
At the end of the round you wheel back to the club house where it's almost a scene from NASCAR. You pull up, a couple employees meet you, park the cart and immediately begin cleaning your clubs. Not a big deal for some guys but my clubs (a set I got from Canadian Tire about a dozen years ago) had never been cleaned before. I play an average of 3 rounds per summer and the heads of my sticks looked like I'd used them more for backyard gardening than for smacking golf balls. Still, these guys not only cleaned them but they scrubbed them, perhaps sandblasted them, polished them and returned them to me looking better than the day I originally purchased them.
At the end of Day 1 we retired to our accommodations - the Outlook Cabin (above), a rustic yet luxuriously comfortable lodge with more than enough room for all of us. The Millards cooked a late night supper on the BBQ and we all took in a herd of Elk that wondered into our backyard. A postcard view at every turn, great company, frosty beverages and the best shower I've ever had - I can't possibly recommend the Outlook Cabin any higher.
Day 2 began the same way as Day 1; a friendly greeting at the course where the free overnight storage of our clubs meant no hassle for us that morning.
At one point on day two, like an idiot I left my wedge laying next to a green only to discover the blunder a couple of holes later. JPL has a "Players Assistant" that speeds around the course and he gladly sped back and found my iron and returned it to me. Wonderful service! He even had time to snap a group photo for us so that everyone would be in it. (Wasn't my camera though so I don't have it).
Everyone on the trip agreed that it was a great time and both Dean and I have decided that somehow, it was but the first of a series of TPS Invitationals we'll be doing from now on.
We've mentioned it before but in case you missed it, the JPL has an absolutely fantastic deal on this summer that is open to anyone, not just superstar TV guys like Millard and Bristowe or big wheels like Klippenstein and Blustein.
$300 gets you unlimited golf and a night's stay. UNLIMITED golf. Bristowe, being a non-Alberta resident, would normally have to pay $225 to play JPL but with this remarkable deal he played $1000 worth of golf + had unreal accommodations for only $300.
If you're a golfer, serious or otherwise, do yourself a favor and put the Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course on your MUST-PLAY list this year and tell them that The Pipeline Show sent you. You won't regret it.