First, a primer. There is no such thing as Better Ball, even though amateur golfers across the world use the term to describe every (and I mean every) form of non-singles play. Here are the official terms, for your edification
- Foursomes (alternate shot) A tees off, B hits second, A hits third, B hits fourth, until ball is holed.
- Four-Ball (better ball) A and B each play own ball from tee to hole. Lower score counts for team.
- Scramble (scramble) 2, 3, or 4 golfers tee off. Better/Best drive of the group is chosen for play. All players move ball to that location and hit team second shot. Better/Best second shot of the group is chosen and all players move ball to that location, until a ball is holed for a team score.
That’s it. The rest is drinking games and silliness, usually the best part of golf.
Back to the headline. Jamie Miller of Silver Creek, and Tony Hejna of Cleveland (formerly of Buffalo) begin competition today in the USGA Amateur Four-Ball championship. The tournament takes place near Tacoma, Washington, at Chambers Bay. Chambers is a mighty beast, one that I and the Scrambler have had the fortune to play. It made us weep. It is a titan’s golf course. This week should be fun for all of these golfers.
Miller and Hejna competed in the area qualifier last month at Springville Country Club and shot 63. The only problem was that a team from Rochester did the same, then defeated the local duo in a playoff. There ended their journey, or so they thought. When a qualifying team pulled out, Miller and Hejna were in, grateful for an algorithm that only practitioners of vudu understand.
Miller and Hejna have both competed in this event before, and will begin play on the alternate course today. There is a reason that there is an alternate course. This event, like most USGA events, is conducted at match play. The qualifiers will play 36 holes of medal (stroke) play, and the low 64 teams will be seeded into head-to-head competition. A playoff will be used if there is a tie for 64th position.
The Home Course is in Dupont, Washington, about 12 miles south of Chambers Bay. Miller and Hejna tee off at 1:12 this afternoon, in the second last grouping. That equals 4:12 EST for us, so just before early dinner or late lunch, send some juju and good vibes to the west, for our local lads. Tomorrow, Sunday, they’ll do battle with the monster, the site of the 2015 US Open championship.