Mere quarters were at stake, but you’d have never known it Tuesday afternoon at Lake Carroll Golf Course near Lanark.
In the last installment of Links With Locals for the summer, I teed it up with Dale Hartman, who built a powerhouse baseball program at Byron High School, where he’s taught for the past 25 years.
Hartman is now an assistant baseball coach at Eastland, where he coached his three sons – Zeke, 21; Ty, 19; and Devin, 18 – while they were Cougars.
The five of us played at Lake Carroll, and our game of choice was skins – beat everybody else on a given hole, and a skin is yours.
There was a little action early. Ty birdied the first hole for one skin, Zeke birdied the second for another, and I birdied the sixth hole to rack up four skins – that hole, plus three carryovers.
That was it, however, until the 12th hole, when Dale faced a 4-footer for the princely sum of six skins – that’s $1.50 from each of his playing partners, if you’re keeping score.
“And the pressure builds,” Zeke intoned.
Dale, standing over the putt, backed away to give it one more look from a different angle.
“And the pressure really builds,” Zeke said, bringing a few wry smiles from everybody in the group – except Dale.
Long story short – Dale missed the putt, and Ty went on to be the big winner on the day after nabbing the only par on the 13th hole. It was worth seven skins, and resulted in his collecting a whole $5 at the end of the day.
My guess is the money meant virtually nothing, but having bragging rights in a family of athletes for a day – priceless.
Each of the boys were 3-sport athletes at Eastland, and each left their mark. I asked each what their Cougar highlight was.
Zeke played second base on the 2011 Eastland baseball team that finished second at the state tournament. In a 5-4 supersectional victory against Streator Woodland, it was Zeke’s base hit in the sixth inning that drove in Jordan Blair with the deciding run.
Zeke is now a senior at Augustana College, where he is a pre-med major. He plans to become a family doctor and open up his own practice someday.
Ty was also a standout baseball player at Eastland, as a pitcher. His Cougar highlight, however, was on the basketball court, where he helped Eastland qualify for state in 2013.
In the semifinals, he scored 18 points in a 51-50 loss to Madison. He averaged 13.3 points and 7.1 rebounds as a senior for the Cougars.
Ty is now a sophomore at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and plays on the school’s basketball team. He started all but one game at power forward a year ago, averaging 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds for the 9-14 Rams.
His season high of 20 points came in a 118-97 loss to Grinnell College, which annually grabs national headlines for its ability to put points on the board at a prolific rate. Grinnell’s Jack Taylor, who scored 138 points in a game in 2012, scored just 19 against Cornell.
Devin’s Cougar highlight came on the golf course. As a junior, he carded a 78 to place second in a Class 1A sectional held at Golf Club of Illinois in Algonquin. It was a difficult golf course made harder by cold temperatures and a howling wind.
Devin will be a freshman at St. Ambrose this fall, and he’ll be a member of the golf team.
As for Tuesday, none of the fivesome did much to write home about as far as the scorecard goes. I was the medalist with an 8-over-par 80, one stroke less than Ty and Devin. Zeke was next with 86, while Dale rounded out the scoring with a 91.
The real winner, however, was Lake Carroll Golf Course. It had been about 5 years since I’d played there, and there were a number of improvements to the course – mainly with the bunkering and the greens.
The most pleasant surprise was the total reconstruction of the par-3 eighth hole. What had been an unsightly hole with a ridiculous green has been transformed into a 210-yard gem that would fit in nicely on a PGA Tour course.
Dale commented it looks like a hole that could be worked into TPC Deere Run in Silvis, and I agree.
Well folks, that’s it for Links With Locals for this summer, as it’s time to get busy with prep sports. It’s been a hoot; see you next year.