Contrary to what you may hear, July is the month for the two major tournaments on the golf schedule - the Utah State Amateur and the U.S. Women's Open.
My whole golf career rests on these two events. By reading from the bottom of the lists on the Scoreboard page, I'm hoping for some serious consolation.One of the hazards of the sportswriting profession is something called a Media Day. This event follows the theory that attendance at any pre-tournament publicity session is greatly enhanced by a free lunch and free golf.
In the case of Indianwood Country Club in suburban Detroit, a preview of the U.S. Women's Open course required Media Day II, a return visit arranged by a California basketball writer who can talk his way into anything. So there we were, on the first tee, playing with a host assistant pro and wondering if life could be any better.
Well . . .
Surveying the layout, I said to myself, "I could shoot 100 here," and then proceeded to try. After 51/2 hours of thrashing through the heather - just a fancy name for knee-high weeds - and managing a smooth 90, I came to several conclusions. I would:
1) Watch ABC's coverage of the Women's Open next week and cover my eyes whenever anybody missed a fairway;
2) Cancel any thoughts of a golf vacation in Scotland, having established that I could be just as miserable playing a Scottish-style course in the states and save a lot of money;
3) And hurry home and play the U. of U. Golf Course, which has fewer total sand traps than Indianwood's third hole.
Quit the game? Not with another Media Day coming up.
Next on the tour was Provo's Riverside Country Club, a genuine members' course that features the nicest fairways in the state and is not afraid to mix in a few forgiving holes with the tough ones.
This week's State Am will be much more fun to follow than the Women's Open.
If I read about one of the contenders bogeying the 10th, I can shake my head knowingly and say, "That's a birdie hole."
Before having to leave early, I was 4 over par through 11 holes. Even if Doug Bybee or somebody shoots 66 in the first round today, I'll have good feelings about Riverside.
Now, if one of those straight-hitting women posts a 67 or 68 at Indianwood, I'll be frustrated all over again.
Yeah, but we were playing the blue tees.
CLOSE CALLS: One of the toughest sports-related jobs in Utah these days belongs to Kurt Wilson, the play-by-play broadcaster for the Salt Lake Trappers. Calling the games is the easy part for Wilson, whose ability is way beyond rookie league.
Besides broadcasting, though, Wilson is the official scorer for Trappers home games. That means he's deciding whether the ball that skips off the shortstop's glove is a hit or error for a player he'll be riding with on the bus to Great Falls for eight hours.
That's not comfortable.
"After the first game," reports Wilson, "there were a couple of close calls, and I was saying to myself, `What have I gotten myself into?' I've already been picked on by the opposing team and a couple of home players."
Or consider this: Lurking near the press box is Van Schley, the Trappers' personnel man, looking to sell his players to big-league organizations after the summer. In a short season, five hit-or-error decisions that all go the same way could mean the difference between a .300 batting average and a .320 average.
"I know baseball as well as anybody else here," Wilson says. "I figure I can make the decisions."
Have fun, Kurt. Call 'em like you see 'em.
TROUBLE SHOOTER: Always looking for an edge, former Jazzman Adrian Dantley plans to hire a shooting coach this summer. "Anything to improve your game," he says. Does this means we'll see A.D. shooting actual jump shots? "It's just a matter of your release," he says. "It doesn't matter whether you jump or not."
At age 33, Dantley figures he'll settle for more outside shots, shooting for four more seasons. He'd like to be the first forward to play 17 NBA seasons, passing John Havlicek and Elvin Hayes.