AmateurGolf.com ran our first-ever putting competition on Friday, November 18 at Oceanside's Goat Hill Park. It was a qualifier for the Major Series of Putting Amateur Championship, being played March 13, 2017.
With daylight savings long behind us, we decided to wait until after our Friday skins game was done, and run the qualifier under the lights. Everyone had a blast!
The first twosome of putters started in twilight, but the lights were needed pretty quickly. Everyone was already warmed up after playing skins -- it's a "mandatory golf Friday" tradition at "The Goat" -- so we all went off without trying the 6-hole layout. It became apparent quickly that we may have setup our course a tad too tough, as nobody but Michael Harding (1-under) could break the par of 12 the first go around.
Harding was even par standing on the final hole, a thirty foot putt straight downhill with the Pacific Ocean in the background. They don't call it Goat Hill for nothing; the chipping green we used for the course is no exception, and it was rolling quick. Miss the putt and the next stop could be the bunker down below. But Harding hit it dead center, then did his typical head-down walk towards the scoring table.
Nobody could touch 1-under until Goat Hill's Ops Manager Peter Spiers made a 5-foot comeback putt for a par two on that tricky final hole to finish his third attempt at 1-under, with the sky now pitch black and floodlights guiding players around.
Spiers and Harding competed in a 3-hole aggregate playoff for the final spot, with Spiers, a New Zealand native, surviving the final hole to punch his ticket to Vegas.
So, if you play Goat Hill Park this winter (if you live in, or visit San Diego you need to) and you see a big, burly guy working on his putting wish him luck in Las Vegas. He'll probably answer with something like "thanks mate."
For more information on the Major Series of Putting, and to find a qualifier near you, visit www.msop.com.