16-Man Team 

As last reported by The Virtual 19th Hole, our 16 Man and Senior 8-Man Teams had each played their initial matches of the year.  The 16-Man Team had lost a nail-biter to Keller and the 8-Man Team had pitched a shutout against Theodore Wirth, winning 12 – 0.  Follow-up matches, pitting the same opponents against each other, but at the other team’s home course, were expected to be challenging contests. 

The 16 Man Team’s loss to Keller was at Keller, so the rematch on June 2 was played at Braemar.  And, as predicted by undaunted captain Bryan Francis, Braemar turned the tide in a match even more exciting than the original showdown. Down 11-13 at the start of the rematch, Braemar got standout performances from several players, including 3-0 shutouts from the teams of Michael Kraft/ Coss Barnette, Nick Neudigate/ Tim Lambrecht, and Drew Gumlia/ Bryan Francis. But notwithstanding those stellar performances, the overall result was hanging in the balance until the final hole played by the final pairing of Ronin Burns and Chris Eckes. Facing elimination, Ronin needed to make an eight-foot putt to force a playoff. He rolled in the putt and so the resulting playoff would determine which of the two teams would move on with their season. Captain Francis selected Drew Gumlia and Michael Kraft as Braemar’s team in the playoff. Seeking to bolster his chances, Michael persuaded brother Steven to caddy for him with everything on the line. So, the Braemar players– and caddy– headed to the first tee, knowing that their season now rode on those six stalwart shoulders.  Fearlessly, Drew hit the green in regulation and had a 20-footer for birdie.  But Michael made that putt irrelevant by pitching his second shot from 50 yards to eight inches, nearly holing out for a gimme birdie. Observers credited the indispensable moral support of caddy Steven with making all the difference. Meanwhile, Keller had a 15-footer to gain a tie, but their birdie bid slid just past the hole and Braemar was able to savor the sweet taste of victory. 

Our 16-Man Team now advances and will play Hiawatha in July. 

8-Man Team 

Our 8-Man Team’s rematch against Wirth was played at Wirth on May 21.  And, as expected, Wirth did not roll over.  In a tough 6 – 5 loss, the Braemar seniors simply couldn’t overcome their opponent’s home field advantage.  But in their next match, at home on June 4 against Baker National, the 8-Man Team fared considerably better.  After winning by the decisive margin of 7.5 – 4.5, team captain Mike Longman offered special kudos for new BMC member Mark Paetznick, who fired a blistering 68.  The rematch against Baker will be played on June 18 at Baker. 

Dick Helde
Editor, The Virtual 19th Hole