Flint, MI? Seriously?! Thats the response I get from people when they ask me to rate the TOUR stops for the best looking, most-fun-after-golf crowd.
Heres how it stacks up:
No. 1 Charlotte, N.C. (Wachovia Championship)
No. 2 Flint, Mich. (Buick Open)
No. 3 Scottsdale, Ariz. (FBR Open)
No. 4 Hilton Head, S.C. (Verizon Heritage)
No. 5 (tie) Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas (Byron Nelson and Colonial)
Now every tournament has something about it that we all love. (Thats my way of saying, The course is in the best shape Ive ever seen it.) But what makes Flint so special?
Through in-depth scientific testing and many exit polls (OK, I made those up, but I did talk with a lot of guys) I have figured out why there are so many beautiful people in a suburb an hour south of Detroit. And theres the big hint! In the glory days of the auto industry, big wig executives and their trophy wives lived here. And those people had kids... see where this is going? Now that the auto industry has somewhat crashed in the last few years, the best party in town is when the TOUR comes for the week. The Redwood Lodge is the place to be Friday and Saturday night -- players, caddies, TV, radio, etc. etc. etc.
Great food, inexpensive drinks, and an outdoor bar that can hold about a thousand people, puuuhleeeeease! How can it not be a good time? Maxies is a little dive bar just down the street that has live music every night and is one of those places you drive by and go, NO WAY! There are good looking people in there? Youd be wrong, big time. I guess Im gonna get in a lot of trouble by my friends out here for calling out the sleeper event of the year for us, but it is time. The people deserve to know!
Tuesday night is one of the best ... Caddie Bowling tournament!
Greg Piddler Martin, who caddies for Dan Forsman, for the last 20 years (15 years at the same place, Town and Country Bowling) has been running the caddie bowling tournament. Caddies pair up and bowl three games against the field. Adult beverages flow, rental shoes get passed out, house bowling balls get sized to fingers (youd be amazed at how many guys roll 12 pounders, light by bowling standards), then silence as the national anthem is played. Another moment of silence for the caddies weve lost in the past year... then...
Many side wagers are made, especially when pros come out to play, and they do come out to play, too, which is hilarious to see if a guy is the same on the lanes as on the course (50% of the time they are, and half of the time theyve had enough to drink that their true nature comes out)!
I remember a couple of years ago when players wouldnt bowl but hang out behind the caddies and bet on their caddies every roll. By the third game heated (not really, lets say loud) exchanges were taking place between players over who bet what, then players would scream at their caddies, YOU MISS THIS SPARE AND YOURE WORKING FOR _______ NEXT WEEK!
This year I was planning on just going to watch you know, research for this column! Of course as soon as I get to the bar, Im recruited to bowl. (I hope they have a good disinfectant, I didnt wear socks for this.) Im paired up with Kip Henley, Brian Gays caddie and winner of Big Break II, a good friend from back in the day. We each drink a beer and decide we can win this thing. I roll a 167 the first game and he rolls a 150! We are right where we want to be, then disaster strikes (and not literally!).
I roll a 94 the second game, probably shouldnt have let my XM co-workers keep bringing me drinks, because they are definitely not working. Kip throws a 127 and is wondering, out loud, where his partner has gone. Third game is at least respectable (138) but now we know we cant win -- but we had so much fun weve decided to hook up again next year, contingent on my promise to only have one beer.
Michelle Spalding, bless her heart, is trying her best to collect all the scorecards from a bunch of very happy caddies. We give high-fives and were back to the bar where I learn the results...
Congrats to Matthew Hall (Mark Hensbys caddie) and Jim Walters (former caddie for Chad Collins) for winning the 20th Annual Caddie Bowling Tournament. Woody Austin and his caddie Brent Henley finished second (they were defending champs!) just a few pins better than Jiffy Jeff Kaleta (caddie for Gavin Coles) and John Go-Go Glinski (caddie for John Huston). Next year Eric Big E Bajas takes over as tournament director as Piddler and Dan Forsman make their way to the Champions Tour.
Aaaaaaaaah, Flint, Mich: Dont come to this tournament, its our little secret. OK, you can come, but dont tell anybody how good it is!
Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
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