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After finishing 4th in the Am Nationals it was time to test the Open (Pro) division. This last weekend I attended my first ever tournament in which I entered as a professional. It was in Indianapolis, The Checkered Flag Open. I entered the Master Division. I had played this course several times in the past as an amateur at this same event over the years. Never winning it but coming close. Lindsay won her division here back in 05, I think.

I can not find the word(s) to describe the wind other than brutal. After 2 rounds of wind crushed drives and slammed to the ground jump putts, I found myself with a 4 under par for the day. I was tied for 3rd going into the second round and felt another 2 under might get me a top five finish. Cool....

I stroll off to unwind after the long hot day to have a few beers. After about 15-20 minutes, almost 2 beers later, I hear my name being called to Tourney Central. Beer in hand I wind my way up there to find out I'm tied for first and the playoff starts in 5 minutes on hole one.

After the quick downing of the rest of the 2nd beer and running back to the car to get my shoes back on, I got to the tee pad. We flipped for it, he won the flip.

Hole 1 is a 600'+ dog leg right. Dense thicket to the right and OB to the left. The hole plays a tough 4 but its possible to get 3's on it with a great drive AND a great approach. He drove right, into the crap. I drove and hit the first large tree on the left. Damn...

I was out. Marked my spot and threw....right into the very next tree to the left. I wish I had another beer!! I was nervous!! I shouldn't have been...I had 3'd this hole both rounds. He threw out of the crap..........and OB left. I had to get my third close to the basket just to save a 4.

I had about 350' remaining to the pin with low ceilings nearer the pin. I picked out my KC Roc and crushed a shot to within 50'. Great?!!? A long putt in this wind to save a 5, that's if he doesn't can his long putt from 60' coming back in from OB. He lines up......he putts! I can see right away its gonna be short. All I have in my mind now is making this putt and forcing another hole. I mark my lie, grab the trusty ole KC Pro Aviar and line up. The wind is right in my face about 12-15 mph.......hmmmm. Step back, visualize the putt, step up, one pump....draw back and putt!!! SPLASH! 45 footer to save the 5. He drops his in for his 5, onto Hole 2.

Shorter hole, 306', basket area protected by trees all around. The basket is on a hill sloping down right to left about 40 degrees. I missed the birdie the first round and got it the second.

I was happy to get to here. He drove first. Decent drive till the wind got a hold of it and pushed it off line to the left. Almost even with the pin but left about 45 feet and low hanging branches in the face. I learned a little from his drive and decided to throw my KC Roc with a little turnover to it. I punch it up the center. The wind grabs it, turns it right and slams it short for about a 60 footer but open to the pin. I putt first. I look over the putt make my decision about how to attack it and grab my putter. I mark it, line it up and jump putt....slightly off line to the right, the wind grabs it and turns it left to hit the top of the basket. It falls directly below the basket for a drop in 3. His turn...again hes about 45 out but has those low hanging branches in his face. He putts....its high.....hits the branches and has enough energy taken off of it to hit the rim of the basket and also fall to the ground directly below the basket. We both drop in for our 3's.

Onto hole 3. A short 217' up hill with guardian trees in the center of the fairway right in front of the tee pad. He drives first. A low short shot lands on the hill about 30' short but down hill from the basket. My turn...during the first and second rounds on this hole...I was pin high and left...got the birdie in the first round and missed it in the second. I drive and leave it up in the air for the wind to grab, again, it gets turned to the left, but this time I'm real short, about 40' out and down the hill for a real tough putt. I'm out, so I putt first. I line it up, the wind is in my face and the basket is at least 10-15' over my head. The only thing I was thinking here was to get it near the basket and flat so it doesn't roll down the hill. I throw and it hits the bottom of the basket and rolls 5' away...I got lucky it didn't roll farther. His turn....he throws and chains right and slips past the basket also 5' away. We drop in for 3's and move to hole 4.

Hole 4 is a 267' down hill, across the valley, from one hill top to the other with OB 10 feet past the basket. In the first round my shot was held out right by the wind for a 35' putt, I missed. The second round I threw the exact same shot but that time the wind picked it up and flew it over the basket, OB. I missed the putt coming back in from 15 feet and bogeyed the hole for a circle 4. I was concerned. He threw first. He released and flew it to the right. He got treated the same way I did with my shot in the first round; wind held it out right and had 40' for his putt. My turn, remembering what had happened to me and then seeing his drive I switched discs from what I thought about driving with. I switched from the more stable Cro to the KC Roc, the disc I threw in the two rounds earlier on this hole. I threw. It looked as though the wind was gonna get the better of me again when the disc immediately leaving my hand raised about 10 feet from the wind getting under it. But then the wind decided to again do what it had been doing all day, slammed the disc down about 20', 10' lower than where I wanted to be, but the disc flew on the line I had chosen. I was looking real good when at the last minute the wind once again dealt a blow to my disc by pushing it down yet again, but his time, it landed within 15' and left of the pin. Whew!!! I was safe and he had a long putt into the wind. He and I both knew what the outcome was gonna be. He putted into the wind. The wind spanked it down and it hit the side of the basket and came to rest directly below it. I had 15' and the wind was to my back. I knew I had to keep it higher than normal so when the wind did its thing I would land safely in the basket. I marked my lie, lined up, pumped once, drew back and putted!! SPLASH!! 15' for the WIN!!

I want to thank Rob Sparks for being my caddy during these playoff holes. I'm not sure the outcome would have been the same if I had to carry my own bag for those last few nail biting holes AND after slamming 2 beers. I was very happy to have entered my first tournament as a Pro and come out on top in the division I entered, Masters.

Good bye amateur status! Hello Pro!!!

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Comment by Scott Tomkiewicz on July 8, 2009 at 11:16am
Thanks Mark! By the way sir, thank you for doing what you do at the USADGC! Your personality adds so much to an already wonderful event. I am going to miss that event and the people that run it each and every year. That tournament was one of the reasons I remained an AM as long as I did. Thanks, again!!
Comment by mark ellis on July 1, 2009 at 12:30pm
Wow, congrats on the first big win in Pro. Nothing is as fun as winning in sudden death. Nice job with the play by play description.

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