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OK, all you dads. How did you spend Father’s Day last Sunday?
At the Gilbert Compound, my wife, Joan and I, invited out older son, Jack, up from near the Twin Cities to spend the weekend, and he had a great idea. We should play a round of golf. I hadn’t picked up my clubs for five years, and Joan had used hers once in that time. Jack hadn’t played, either, but he said we could just play nine.
Because we were also going to celebrate Joan’s birthday a bit early on the same weekend, we were sorry our younger son, Jeff, couldn’t come back from Washington State to be with us. Then again, maybe it was better that way.
We started driving up the North Shore, planning on ending up either at the Rustic in Castle Danger or the Scenic Cafe, just west of Knife River, for dinner at one or the other of our favorite dinner spots. I suggested Two Harbors, because they have a really nice little golf course there, not back-breaking long, pretty wide open so you shouldn’t lose too many balls, views of Lake Superior on many holes, and maybe there wouldn’t be that big a crowd.
We pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car to face a constant 40-mph wind blasting us right off Lake Superior. I suggested it might not be fun, but we all had extra jackets, so we bundled up and bought three tickets for the front nine. There were a half-dozen guys in there watching the U.S. Open final round, but as near as we could tell, there was only one other group on the course, and they were on the back nine.
It was pleasant, knowing we didn’t have to worry about any pressure from a group behind us. We could take our time, looking deep into the woods for any stray balls we might have botched.
As a golfer, I usually spend a couple holes getting reacquainted with my swing and its relation to the ball, then do OK. But not this time. I hit so many bad shots, dribblers, terrible slices, double play grounders, that it got wearisome. It was not fun, except for the comic relief. Joan and Jack didn’t do much, either, so the three of were doing pretty much a nature hike with clubs. We rejected the idea of using carts, so we walked.
Jack started connecting with his left-handed swing and smacked some healthy shots. Joan improved, too. Me? I continued to hit as if I was trying to mis-hit every shot. I should have had an idea as I walked onto the first green, after plenty of swings. I pulled out my putter and noticed the head seemed to be loose, so I tried gently to screw it back on. It turned easily, and then more easily as I broke it right off.
My comic highlight came after about four awful holes. I lined up on the tee, and decided to swing hard, since swinging moderately hadn’t been doing me any good. I swung hard and hit a low screamer off the tee. The ball sailed right at the lesser tee up ahead, struck the large, round, golf-ball replica tee marker squarely and I almost had to duck when the ricochet came right back at me!
When Jack started hitting well, he got so excited he hit a wedge over the green on 5, and when he went around to chip it onto the green, he inadvertently left his wedge there, on the grass. Joan say six holes were enough for her, so she left her clubs and walked back to retrieve Jack’s wedge.
We were on 9 when she caught back up to us, and she missed the highlight of my round. Teeing off on 9, I was hoping to just get the round over with, but I hit one square — straight ahead maybe 250 yards, right down the middle. It felt great. It actually felt like what I expected two hours earlier. I botched my second shot, then I calmed down and hit another great shot with a fairway wood. It provided a strong finish, in miserable conditions. But the strange thing about golf is no matter how bad you play, if you hit a good shot or two on the last hole…you want to come back and try again!
MARSHALL CARRIES TOURNAMENT TORCH
Marshall got to go to the Twin Cities to play the state high school baseball tournament’s Class AA championship game against Minnehaha Academy, scheduled for Thursday. The Hilltoppers won a tight 4-3 opener against Glencoe-Silver-Silver Lake, then rallied to get a 2-2 tie and beat Paynesville 3-2 in an 8-inning semifinal. It was the Marshall seniors who came through big time, Cole Maccoux drilling a bases-loadedsingle up the middle to drive in Peter Hansen with the winning run.
Carter Sullivan had delivered a 2-run single in the fifth to tie it 2-2, and Brett Benson shut down Paynesville over the last four innings to get the victory.
“We stayed calm and focused all the way through both games,” said Marshall coach John Wicklund. “We had to sweat it out both games, but we never got rattled.”
Now, it’s Minnehaha Academy. Marshall visited them early in the season and lost 5-4 in what Wicklund called a not-very-well-played game. The AA final should be considerably different. Both teams got the benefit of a week off, so all pitchers will be ready. That means big Ben Pedersen will get the start for Marshall in the 1 p.m. championship game.
The first two rounds were in St. Cloud; the final is at Target Field in Minneapolis, home of the Twins.
“Ben can go seven innings and get 21 outs, we know that,” said Wicklund. “But we’ve got Brett and Carter (Sullivan) and more ready, if we need them. It would be great to win the state championship and bring it home to Duluth. It would be the first title for a Duluth team since Denfeld in 1950. The only other area team to win one was Cherry in 1997, the team that Corey Kemp played for.”
BLUES STANLEY CUP PREDICTABLY SURPRISING
The St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup, just as I predicted. Yeah, sure. Actually, it was a great final series, going seven games, with the Blues winning 4-1 in Game 7 in Boston.
I think it might be the first Cup final where I picked every individual game wrong, and still got the winner right. I thought the Blues might go into Boston and win Game 1; wrong. Then it looked like the Bruins would be too strong and win Game 2; wrong again. In St. Louis, I figured the Blues would bounce back and win; wrong again. That made it look inevitable that Boston would beat the Blues, and winning Game 4 would prove that; wrong again. Still, going back to Boston for Game 5, it seemed daunting to expect to beat the Bruins so let’s pick the Bruins; wrong again! That put the Blues up three games to two and going home for Game 6, surely they’ll win that one and end it; oops, wrong again! Now it’s 3-3 in games, but Boston, having won Game 6 is now home for Game 7, and it seemed like it was all tilted the Bruins’ way; wrong one more time!
The Blues were outstanding, Ryan O’Reilly was the best player in the series, and Jordan Binnington was the most sensational no-name rookie goaltender in memory. Absolutely dead last in the whole league on January 2, the Blues put on a magnificent surge to win their first Stanley Cup.