Each year, primarily for the benefit of our new members, The Virtual 19th Hole provides a reminder that the BMC has a long tradition of sponsoring several traveling teams that compete against other clubs throughout the metro area.  These include our 16 Man Team, with our very best golfers; our 8 Man Senior Team, featuring our best senior players; and the Metro Seniors, also featuring senior players.

And as things have evolved, this year includes one of the strongest 16 Man Teams Braemar has assembled in years (if ever).  For the team’s first match of 2023, over half of our players carried a USGA handicap of less than 2!  These 16 Man events are two-man gross best ball competitions.

Our first match was a home game against Chaska and ended in a tie, and so, with a different competitive structure this year, we’ll need to beat them in an away game in order to move to the next round.

That match, held on May 7, was nothing short of spectacular on both sides.  With birdies and eagles throughout the day, the overall result was always in doubt and eventually wound up in a tie score of 12 to 12.  Braemar’s winning twosomes: Cutter Tyllia/ Mike Wangen, 2.5 to .5; Ronan Burns/ Nick Adams, 2.5 to .5; Bryan Francis/ Billy Utter, 2.5 to .5; and Jack Bloomquist/ Steve Bloomquist, 2 to 1.

Probably the highlight of the day was a match featuring Daniel Niemi and Coss Barnette playing for Braemar.

In that match, play started on the back nine, with the players teeing off from the E tees. Unfortunately, by the time they reached the 13th tee, Daniel and Coss had fallen behind by two holes, with Chaska making birdie on Number 11 and both Braemar players bogeying Number 12. But then Coss birdied 13 to close the gap.  Playing tough, Chaska turned right around on 14 to win the hole with a birdie.  But continuing the slugfest, Daniel immediately struck back on 15, where his birdie tightened things up again.  And on 16 the seesaw battle continued, where both Braemar players hit the green in two, but neither managed to hole his eagle putt. Chaska also had a ball on the green in two—from 50 feet away. Shockingly, the 50-footer dropped for eagle, and Chaska was again up by two.  But what else would you expect in a match like this except for Braemar to get that hole right back on Number 17, where we won the hole with a par.  Back to down one.  With no blood on Number 18, Daniel and Coss remained one down at the turn.  Still down by one on the third hole (the 12th of the match), Daniel’s tee shot left him with a chip from just off the green.  Although his chip shot hit the stick, the ball failed to drop.  Meanwhile, Chaska also had a chip from off the green, but that one rolled into the hole. Back to two down. But wait! On Number 6, for the fourth time in the match, thanks to Daniel’s birdie, Braemar again drew the match to within one.  And after both teams parred Number 7, the eighth hole finally afforded Braemar a hard-earned chance to turn the tables on what had happened at 16. With each of the other players having already made birdie, Coss faced a 15-footer for eagle. And when he calmly rolled the ball into the hole, Braemar was finally all square on the back and just one down in the overall match. Unfortunately, needing to win the final hole to tie the match, fortune failed to smile one last time on Daniel and Coss, and we lost a nail-biter one down.

Final gross scores for the four players: 68 and 70 for Braemar, and 69 and 73 for Chaska. 

Stay tuned for the results of Braemar’s next 16 Man match against Chaska—if your stomach can handle the drama.

Dick Helde
Past BMC President and Editor, The Virtual 19th Hole