Maureen O’Shea turns 81 today and I’d like you to help me wish her best regards for the year ahead.
On Friday I had an opportunity to take a look at Mickelson National Golf Course, which is PGA Tour Pro Phil Mickelson’s first Canadian golf course design.
It was a beautiful warm day, this September morn, when we headed out to play golf on the Wintergreen Golf & Country Club at Bragg Creek, Alberta. My friend and I had a tee time for 11:39 a.m. and the timing could not have been more perfect! It was +6 C when we left home and at least +10 C and sunny when we arrived at the course and the mercury was only rising. The temperature hit a day high of +22 C when we finisThe pitching range, located close to the starter’s shack, is one of the reasons people like to play at Wintergreen. There were five stations set up with balls that we could hit out towards greens to pitch to that were 50 and 100 yards out. The driving range was in an area nearby, but driver’s aren’t allowed. The range slopes way, way down into the valley and it was not long enough to use a driver. There was no GPS on the golf car, and only limited information on my SkyCaddie!
We played from the white/red combo tees 5357 yards rating 71.3, slope 13They’d put us off on hole #10 and were told it was cart path only today. This was disappointing for me, as my friend has her own pull cart and prefers to walk. It turned out that the two fellows we were playing with were also in a cart, so the game wasn’t all that quick with all the back-and-forth and the walking all of us needed to do! The fairways were soft (hence the no golf car rule) and some places quite spongy. Sometimes I did find my feet were sinking in the grass but on the other hand, the divots were easy to take.
There were five par 3s and two had tough pin placements that led to bogeys. Luckily, we used our own GPS because two of the holes were over 20 yards longer than listed on the card. All the greens are a generous size.
The par 4s were reachable in two shots for me, although two were uphill and around 300 yards. I needed a 3-wood for my second shot!
The par 5s ranged in length from 397 to 467 and none of them were easy to be on in three shots. My best par 5 was the 18th hole at 397 yards. This hole is a dog left and plays uphill. The green is protected by a pond and rocks. I had to lay up with my second shot and hit my 3-wood to the green for a par. I know if I had played the course before, it would have been easier to play these holes. I guess I rely on the GPS more and more – especially when I need to navigate around bodies of water, which Wintergreen has.
I hit a lot of fairways and greens. I was disappointed in the number of putts I had but I was not all that surprised since I was playing the course for the first time. However, I played with the same Titleist ProV1 #4 with an orange circle around the four and three + marks in orange on the back side! My score was 44 + 43 = 87.
All-in-all I would give this course a three and a half out of five rating.
The scenery was beautiful, especially with the leaves turning bright colours of orange and yellow. A pretty picture to behold with the multitude of fir trees in green.
Growing up, we couldn’t lose anything: there was no money for replacements and no convenient stores to get them from. Here are my thoughts on losing things.
I started playing Whist as a young girl with my Mom, Dad and brother Jim. Whist was a good card game for learning the concept of taking tricks or not taking them. If you bid to take tricks, you learned how to play the cards in order to win the hand. If you passed, you could easily learn how to throw away your high cards on higher cards. The experience of playing cards in Whist was very helpful when I started to learn the Bridge game.
It Takes Four to Play Bridge
I lived with three other girls before I was married and we sometimes played bridge together. It takes four to play, or multiples of four, and we even played bridge sometimes with a foursome of football players from the Saskatchewan Roughrider football club!
I bought a booklet on the Goren Convention System when I started playing Bridge. It was only about 30 pages long but it served me well. Many people play only Duplicate Bridge, and both Duplicate and Standard are played competitively. At the Huntsman Senior Games in St.George, Utah where I competed in golf last year, Duplicate Bridge is one of the categories.
Bridge Became an Occasion
In 1960, I first joined a bridge club that consisted of seven other gals. Now Bridge was a big occasion, and it was a seriously big night out! We got dressed to the nines and arrived at the home of the hostess at 8:00 p.m. Drinks were served (not your regular iced tea, either) and we played bridge for several hours. THEN a delicious “lunch” was served, but that was closer to 11 p.m., and afterwards we’d have dessert and coffee. We were pretty buzzed when we got home, around midnight.
Our group of eight played together for several years and each of us would eagerly await our turn to be hostess and show off our hostessing skills. Although each of us tried hard to do our best and the food on hand was always beautifully prepared and delicious, we never once thought about putting together a book of favourite recipes the way a group of women from Calgary did. The Best Of Bridge cook books are still being published, and are go-to books for many cooks I know, not just bridge-players either.
Being the Hostess
Being the hostess, back in those days, meant a great deal of work. First you thought up the menu, then you bought the food and drinks, then you prepared the food, cleaned the house, got your husband out of the house for the evening, threatened your children to stay out of site, got out the card tables and folding chairs from the basement or borrowed a set from a neighbour, made sure the cards had no sign of wear and tear on them and, if so, you’d need to buy new ones… and then you were ready to open the door for your guests, who would all arrive promptly a few minutes before 8:00 p.m.
Grand Slams and Finessing
Many of my friends have passed on now, but one of the bridge clubs I started up in Regina is still active. The joys of those grand slams that you made stay in your memories. I will never forget one evening when I had spades in every hand all night. I had one grand and one small slam in spades that night and four spade games as well. What a night!
Sometimes it is not winning games that is the challenge, but how you play the hand. With so many possibilities in the cards, every hand is different and your challenge is to try and make the best plays. Sometimes it is a finesse you made that you remember. To finesse (in Bridge or Whist) is an attempt to win a trick with a card that is not a certain winner.
Here in Calgary, I am lucky to have friends to play Bridge with every Monday. Times have changed and we seniors have traded in the Wednesday nights for playing in the early afternoon. Coffee and tea (regular or decaf) and a small lunch is served now, and none of us serve alcohol! After decades of play, I am always still learning. Sometimes I will have three friends over for dinner and we will play for an hour after dessert. My friends will do the same at their house.
When I am watching sports on TV, which I often do, I will deal out four bridge hands and bid each of them. I will even play these hands as the contract winner and figure out the best way each trick should be played. It is just another challenge. A lot of people I know play bridge on line.
Bridge and Mental Fitness
Call your friends and invite them over for a game of bridge. It is good brain-work and maybe a delicious dessert too!