Hard Knockers

I had the pleasure of golfing with a few of the Sterling Farms Men's Club members today.

Golf is a funny game. Just when we think we’ve got it licked, our tail gets shoved right between our legs, and we are chomping on big slices of humble pie. Hope. That is what is running through our veins everytime we tee it up, but it is often dashed, and of late, we’ve had to endure other extremes. Most of us are feeling a bit out of sorts, as the season starts to unfurl itself, the competitions heat up, and we are still donning surgical masks, afraid of illness, public shame, and the like. But we’re making great progress, thanks to the responsible, smart, and dedicated leadership emanating from the Old Hobler House’s top floor, in an office occupied by none other than Mr. Paul Grillo, our commander-in-chief here at Sterling Farms. I’ll go on about that elsewhere, but for now, all of us golfers, each of us… we’ve got to try our best, keep our chins up when the going gets tough, and know better days are always ahead.

Today, I had an occasion to play with a trio of Sterling Farms Men’s Club (SFMC) members (Jack McGroarty, Pete Silver, and Kevin Miller), as the qualifying for the SFMC’s President’s, and Vice President’s, Cups commenced. The trio were fine men, and while each of us had our struggles, there were gratifying moments to be had, too.

It is now, as I type this, that I wash I could play with the Women’s Club golfers too. I have watched them, now, for going on two seasons, and their triumphs, and trials, are likely no different that it is for the men.

Now, without going into specifics: the tournament events of each club, Men’s and Women’s, can be very precise. There are rules, there is math, it is all very well done. I’m going to set the standard low from the get-go, and say, in general, that I am not privy to exactly how the math all works at times, but will always do my darnedest to call it as best I can. I am good with numbest, but a dunce in other ways. Aren’t we all?

Today’s Cup qualifiers represented just a handful of what promises to be a large field, and the play will occur all weekend and beyond. John McGroarty, who I think is the math whiz behind most of the Men’s events, told me “the qualifying will go on through next weekend”, too! So, how everything in this event’s qualifying rounds will hash out, is yet to be seen, but know I will try capture the essence of that when the right time comes. This is not a pledge, per se, just an admission of intent!

Now, as for today’s golf, let me just say that summer is really here. The golf course, thanks to Sterling Farms Golf Course superintendent, Mike Golden, and his super team of greenskeepers, played brilliantly. We, as a foursome, could all have imagined ourselves doing better, but the weather (albeit a little hot), course conditions, and company were all very minty nonetheless.

“I need to grab as many shots as I can now,” Jack McGroarty told me, after making his second birdie in the early holes, “because I know I’ll lose some, it’s only a matter of time”, the long hitter, with great poise on some difficult finesse shots, said.

We teed off on the first hole at about 10:30 am. I think the golfer course is very busy, so always book well ahead of time! Carts are in high demand too, because of the social distancing measures Paul has been abiding to. It is costing zillions to have only one golfer on a cart, and short-changing all of the hard work, dedication, and effort put out by the Sterling Farms team, but you won’t hear them grumble. Nope. Hard knockers, these Sterling Farms people are. Golfers, employees… management… all as tough as nails.

Today was not very windy. A gentle breeze, on No. 1, was hurting a bit, coming from the right, say two o’clockish. Jack hammered his drive right down the middle. It was big. I suspected he’d be on, or around, the green after such a big strike. Kevin’s ball darted dead left, as he came over the top, but the big fellow got a great kick, and was maybe 170ish, playable, in the left rough. Pete got off to a tough start. It was an omen for him, unfortunately, as he would struggle all day to get himself settled, yet on 14, he’d make par. No one else, in our group, matched that! Pete championed the signature hole today.

“The par on 14 was one of the only highlights, a well struck 3-wood, followed by a 4-iron and 2 putts,” the Sterling Farms Golfer explained to me.  “The only other time I put two shots together was on 18, 60 yards from the green in 2 and couldn’t do better than 7, go figure, summed  up my day. Would like to play with you another time and show you the better part of my game,” he said.

I know exactly how Pete feels, and wager most golfers, who aren’t super-human, like several at the Farm are, know what a gut punch golf can be. If I could, I’d have given him a medal, he deserved it! His day was a real heartbreaker.

” Yes, today was a tremendous struggle,” Pete later wrote to me that night, “but tomorrow I could have a [better] round…”, he said, addling: “That’s the beauty of the game, so unpredictable.”  

Jack was the strongest, and most-accomplished, golfer in our group. His talents, eyes, senses, and abilities overshadowed what the rest of us could muster, although I have to give Kevin his due: after a round he felt was rubbish, he played the final three holes one under par, with birdies on 16 and 18! Those great scores ought to bring him back, for sure!

There is new technology going on in golf, now, in the SFMC. It involves the use of a new APP called Golf Genius. On the first hole, after we holed our putts, Jack asked us to tell him our scores in the order the Golf Genius APP had us listed. All day, Jack would enter our scores, and Pete wrote down everyone’s tallies ‘old school’, on a scorecard, which were then compared after the round was over. Very clever!

What was… I’m not sure ‘fun’ is the right word… but interesting… was the ability for Jack, or anyone else with the APP running, to see the leaderboard in real time. It is a pretty impressive feature, and I’m certain, a result of the hard work of one man in particular… Mitchell Schepps, who has shepherded the introduction of this new technology, quite brilliantly, for the enjoyment of all.

Jack McGroarty, as scorekeeper, was looking at this leaderboard throughout the round. It is like those pros on tour, who peek at the leaderboard… same deal.

I thin each and every round of golf is an adventure. I’d like to describe what I saw today in more details dn even wrote all three of my fellow competitors for clarification, but shall save such morsels for other installments.

I will say this: on our final hole, No. 18, all of us where a bit in tatters. Jack’s tee ball, which I thought was a fine shot, didn’t make it though that huge tree on the left. He had to re-tee and take a penalty. His dad, John, was with us, and Pete, myself, and Kevin were struggling with our own battles. We had reached the green, and Jack was about 100 yards out, maybe closer, from the 18th green. He was lying four. He threw a wedge shot high into the air. It sailed majestically, and we all could see the line was spot on. The ball was, oh, in the jar, practically. I can’t say if it was one inch, two inches, or less, but the thing was willed!

While the fire in his eyes was burning bright, and the lad felt wronged, it was still a very fine six, for Mr. McGroarty, indeed.

From the desk of Paul grillo, executive director, Stamford Golf Authority

Welcome to Sterling Farms Golfer. Over the past five decades, Sterling Farms has evolved into one of the premiere golf destinations anywhere in the region. We continually strive to maintain, if not exceed, that distinction, and know we owe it all to our Stamford families, friends and neighbors, as well as our patrons like you. Now is the best time of the year to play our spectacular 18 hole championship golf course. Our Golf Course Superintendent, Mike Golden, and his whole team, are leaders in the world of greenkeeping, and we are very proud of the quality of their hard work. I think you'll find our putting greens, fairways, tees, roughs—and every landscape feature here—reflects their devotion and hard work. It is spectacular. Sterling Farms is home to the area's top driving range facility. You won't find a better value, or level of quality, anywhere! We take great pride and joy serving you, and our local community. On behalf of all of us here at Sterling Farms, welcome and thank you!
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