BY RALPH SHEALY
PAR FOR THE COURSE
When the “Swinging Fore Saluda” golf tournament to benefit the SHS football team was announced, I thought it would be neat to get up a press box team.
Obviously, with that setup, winning was not an objective.
The first person I contacted was my nephew Trey Shealy, the sound man. Trey told me he already had a team.
I later found out Trey had loaded his team with two former Saluda High golf team stars, Will Sawyer and Cooper Martin, and a current team member, John David Forrest.
Trey was not in it to have fun. He was in it to win it!
With Trey eliminated, our choices were limited. Clock operator Wayne Grice was in, as was scoreboard operator Sam Shealy.
We needed a fourth, so I contacted Dean Roesner. Dean is on the field taking photos during games, but he’s in charge of the game filming and photography through his SHS journalism class. So, technically, he’s a press box person.
We were set.
To win a Captain’s Choice tourney, you need someone who can hit the ball a mile.
Dean, Wayne and I said we were “used to be’s,” and Sam said he never was.
Wayne and I, due to our old age, could play from the gold tees, so we did get some advantage.
I told my team our goal was not to finish last.
Between the four of us, we had played less than eight times the whole year.
I figured if we could get our start on an easier hole, we could warm up.
The one hole I did not want us to begin was No. 11, one of the toughest holes on the course.
When we registered, I was handed our scorecard. On it was written “11 B.”
Dadgum the luck!
It was our time, and we all got off decent drives. Dean, Wayne and I landed in the valley to the right.
Dean’s shot rested less that two feet from the water.
There we were facing a shot that was completely over water. The only land was on the other side at the green and the bank.
“I have hit over from here before,” I said.
Of course, “ before” may have been 25 years ago.
Sam hit a great “safe” shot that we’d use in case the rest of us went swimming.
I was up first and I HIT IT OVER! The ball landed on the bank, about ten feet from the green.
We chipped close enough for Sam to sink a birdie putt.
On one of the longest and hardest holes on the course, we, team of weak hitters, were one under par, tied for the lead, as Dean said!
The good news is we did well on number 11. The bad news is number 12 followed.
This is officially the hardest hole on the course, a par 5 that’s a par 4.
We needed a long drive on this one and we didn’t get it.
After a birdie on 11, we bogeyed 12.
The game is called a scramble, and we did a lot of scrambling. On rare occasions did we have more than one ball on the green in regulation, and sometimes we didn’t have any!
We figured if we could finished even on the harder back nine, we could really post a good score on the front.
And, again, we figured wrong.
Little old “easy” number 3 got us. We bogeyed it.
Then came number 4, and I sank a 30-foot (may have been 15 or 20) putt for a birdie.
And that’s all she wrote.
We finished even par, and accomplished our goal. Another team finished four over.
We did not finished last. We tied for second to last.
I thought we did pretty well for a crew that rarely plays golf. We all contributed, and I think we will keep our team for next year.
I was proud that I sank several four or five footers and one ten footer. It would have been great if they have been for birdies, but they were all for par.
That’s was “par for the course.”
It was a great tournament with 25 teams competing. Coach Stewart Young gave most of the credit for the tournament success to assistant coach and assistant Athletic Director Brent Wilder.
Sunday, the same coaches and Athletic Director Jeanette Wilder put on the Athletic Honors Banquet at the high school cafeteria.
Wayne put down his clubs and helped prepare the food, which included steaks, baked potatoes, slaw and banana pudding, made by Riley’s on Main.
The food was great and the banquet enjoyable.
Hats off to all involved.
GREAT HITS CONTINUES
My cousin Danny Thompson told me at church Sunday, I had failed to include the “greatest” football hit in my column recently on former Saluda High football players.
Danny said Donald Winn declared the play the hardest collision ever, and Danny was one of the players involved.
Donald has been going to Saluda High football games for over 70 years, so I think what he says has credence.
In this particular game, Danny was playing guard, and on the called play he was to pull. The other guard was Wayne Smith and the play he heard was for him to pull ... in the opposite direction.
The two pulling guard, running full speed, collided behind the center, and Donald said you could hear pads popping throughout the stadium ... and town, probably.
Now, Danny said it was Wayne’s fault, and I’m sure Wayne will say it was Danny’s fault, but it doesn’t matter whose fault it was, head coach Bettis Herlong was not amused.
I’ll repeat the greatest hit I ever witnessed was supplied by the above mentioned Trey Shealy when Saluda played at Emerald around 16 or 17 years ago.
That was back in the day when we were broadcasting the game on radio.
Toward the end of the game, Saluda punted. A routine play, normally, but this night there was a little train on the field and it was running full speed toward the skinny Emerald punt returner who was waving for a fair catch. The little train was Trey.
Trey arrived about the time the football did and he wiped that poor Viking out.
Bruce Horne, Kyle Martin and I could not say what we were thinking when Trey made the hit.
Amazingly, the Emerald return man did not fumble the ball, and he hopped up. That didn’t last long as his knees buckled, and down he went.
He asked if anyone got the number of that truck, as the old joke goes.
Of course, Trey’s tackle earned a 15-yard penalty.
The next day I asked Trey what he was thinking.
He told me in all the years he had played football he have never been on the punting team, and didn’t know the fair catch sign..
The starter couldn’t go in for the play, so Coach Donnie Woolsey grabbed Trey and told him to go in make the tackle. He did.
Boy, did he ever!
Danny and Wayne’s hit may have been heard around town, but I’m sure Trey’s hit was heard over radio waves by the Star Trek crew.
The Braves fired manager Fredi Gonzalez last week.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that not even the Good Lord, Himself, could make anything out of this minor league team playing in the majors, but Fredi still had to go.
I was never a big Bobby Cox fan either, mainly because of Bobby’s failures in the post season.
Not many managers get to manage a Hall of Fame pitcher in their careers. Bobby had three Hall of Fame pitchers, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz playing together and the Braves still only won one World Series!
When Bobby retired, I was hoping the Braves would look out of the organization, but instead they hired Bobby’s semi-clone, Fredi.
I say “semi,” because Fredi has all the fire of a knot on a log, while Bobby was active to the point of getting ejected at least once a week.
It’s the little league fundamentals the Braves need to finally develop, like knowing how the bunt, run the bases and take pitches when the opposing pitcher is wild.
I still watch the Braves every game, if possible, and I do see some promise with the pitching staff, but the team has to get some power.
The Braves used to have five or six players on the team that could hit 20 or more homers. I remember one year they had three players who hit 40 each.
This year’s team may not hit 40 total for the season. That’s sad.