Tee Tattler

Super spring greetings from the Illinois Valley Country Club golf course!
This week had a little action, thanks to the clear, warm weather!
We planned a Saint Patrick’s “Green ball” tournament for Saturday but the course has seen so much rainfall that we have been unable to mow so we’re up in the air about whether we could have the course ready for a tournament, as opposed to the regular skins games that we put on several days in the week. The weather was very wet with about 2 inches of rain in the week leading up to the tournament. Finally the rain subsided a bunch on Tuesday and I anticipated being able to get mowers out onto the drier fairways, hoping against hope that we could get a start on Wednesday and hit the soggier fairways on Thursday and finish mowing the really wet ones on Friday, if it got warm and dried them out enough.
The regular skins players went out without me on Wednesday, as I hopped on the little red mower. The little red mower is actually an eight-foot cut zero-turn mower with a 38 horse-power diesel engine. The operator has to push two levers forward with a bit of strength to make it go and, I’m telling you, your shoulders get pretty danged sore after running the “little” mower for a few hours. I was able to get the exasperating #3 fairway done and some of the rough too–#3 had not been mowed at all since late fall so that was gratifying to get it looking decent. I was able to mow it because Jake White spent a great deal of time cleaning the ditch that crosses it and allowed the stream that normally flows down both sides of the fairway to actually flow downstream and into George Creek, and eventually to make its way to the river, just like it was planned.
Then I jumped onto the short par 3, #4 and was able to get most of it mowed before dark. I saw a few guys leaving the course, counting their skins money and was partially glad I couldn’t play and therefore, they didn’t have my money in their hands.
Thursday, John said that he would like to help, so I gave him the big John Deere, which is the most comfortable ride ever, you just kind of lay back against the super-comfortable back rest and ride along, steering with a wheel instead of the difficult levers, the breeze gently blowing your hair back as you admire the cut lines. Little Red had a flat so I hopped on the giant Jacobsen that we bought from Applegate Golf and Troy showed me how to get it going correctly. I took off on #7, which was really long and pretty soggy, but I knew that it just had to be mowed or people would lose their golf balls in the deep turf. I was busting along at a pretty good clip, watching John over on the adjacent (and dry and firm) #2 having a great time just riding along, hair gently blowing in the breeze, when I felt the sinking feeling of…sinking. There was a kind of low spot on the edge of the fairway where I was getting greedy to get it all looking really nice, but was not as dry as Big Red could stay afloat. I tried to get it out for just a bit but decided it would be best to just leave it so that I wouldn’t dig ruts from trying to power it out.
With daylight waning, I ran back to see if I could get the flat on Little Red filled up. I saw a little air compressor and turned it on, it ran 15 seconds before turning itself off. I drove back up to the clubhouse, the sun zooming toward the mountains, and looked for the new air compressor, nowhere. I called Eugene and he told me that someone had stolen the nice little one but that the big one would fit into a cart if I held onto it while I drove. With great effort I wheeled it to the side of my cart and grabbed…no, that won’t work…ugh,…no, that won’t either…maybe if I ……arrgh. The sun is going down and that doesn’t work either. Finally, I just took a tie strap and towed the thing, that is, until the wheel came unscrewed and fell off, the fastener bolt becoming lost in the fiasco. So I dragged it at about 0.002 MPH to the shop, plugged it in and pointed the air chuck at the…where is the valve stem? I looked the entire perimeter of the wheel and no valve stem. I looked underneath the mower, all 2 inches of clearance and could see nothing still. What kind of engineer puts the valve stem on the inside, with 2 inches of space to see and no room to get under to put the air chuck on the valve stem?
I found an old VW Bug car jack and jacked the frame up enough to see under Little Red, just as it started to roll backward off the jack. Escaping from that death trap, I set the jack at an angle and was able to safely get it up enough to see the valve stem. I pushed the air chuck against it and it pushed the valve stem into the inside of the rim. So I then banged my hands on the tire until the valve stem just started peeking out the hole. Then, I grabbed it with a pair of vice grips and pushed the air chuck against it, the tire miraculously filled! I hopped on and zoomed over to the diesel tank and put about 5 gallons in the tank and hurried up out to finish #7. That Little Red finished it in record time. I went over to #6 and mowed rough over there and had enough daylight left to finish the big corner between 6 and 7 and the little triangle against the pond between 2 and 7. John did a spit-shine job on the bulk of #2 fairway and mowed a few teeboxes too.
We got to work anticipating getting out onto the course on Friday, if we could get enough at the sausage plant done to justify mowing. John was able to get out on the big, comfortable John Deere and spent the next 5 hours hitting 5, 6 and a bunch of rough. Just before I arrived at the course, Troy and Todd pulled the Jacobsen out of the mud and Roland hopped on it and was mowing the dry part of #9. I took a sad look at Little Red, the tire having gone flat over the night, and jacked her back up again and refilled the tire. I happily jetted back out and the tire went flat before I could get 200 yards from the shop.
While I was driving it, the valve stem broke off and I could not see enough of it to put the vice grips on it. Now pulling the wheel off of that mower is not just about taking the lug nuts off, no way. You have to remove the fender first and then carefully slide the entire wheel and tire at just the right angle around the mowing deck support rail. I got it all off and zipped downtown, hoping I could find a tube for it. Luckily, the tube is the same as ATVs use and Dave’s had an almost perfect match. I got it all installed and rushed back and somehow got it back in place. Now to tackle the really wet fairways of #1 and the end part of #9. I got most of 1 done with minimal slipping, sliding, swearing, but I did wear quite a bit of mud spray from that fender missing! #9 was quite the challenge however, but I used strategy and mowed the slippery parts while coasting downhill and did the dry pars going uphill. We finished just past dark on Friday night, while watching all our golf buddies playing and enjoying some beers. After dark, I got into the pro shop and made up the tournament rules sheet, figured up the long drive and KP cards and got the leaderboard ready.
Saturday morning we had 4 – 4 person teams show up. Colby, Emily, Sue and Joey Brown took first place. John, Matt O’Donnell and his stepson, Josh and I took second. Todd, Rich, Thom Baker and Jess (the greens crew proper) were barely behind at third and Jake, Kaelynn, Roland and Isaiah had a bit of trouble with the green ball scores, finishing fourth. We ate a nice Corned Beef dinner made by Pappy’s Pub and welcomed back home the guys who played the same format over at Dutcher Creek, most everyone playing another 9 holes of evening skins.
John and I met up with his Mom, Wanda and sister Michelle and chatted away the evening with old memories and golf stories.