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Austin Graham Sacks Up, Knocks it Down to Capture SCGA Title

Pride of the SC Muni.

Pride of the Pacific Golf Club, er, I mean, Bella Collina Towne & Golf Club.

You may remember a few years back when former San Clemente Triton golfer Austin Graham made mince meat of the South Coast League and was a serious CIF threat. Let’s just say he didn’t peak in high school.

Coming off a highly successful sophomore campaign at UC Davis, Graham is continuing his winning ways this summer, nabbing the Long Beach City Championship — including a career-best round of 62 — and on Sunday the prestigious 110th SCGA title. Yeah, the same trophy won by a certain young Mr. Woods several years ago.

After bogeying 16 in final round, he rolled in a clutch 30-foot birdie on 17 at the Wilshire Country Club to give him a one-shot lead. He finished with a 6-under 278, going 69-69-70-70.

Read more here.

Enter Kid Gaslamp

Skinsters north and south are officially on notice: There is a new wedge on the scene, and it belongs to “Downtown” Kid Gaslamp. After months of speculation and buildup, the midrise maven finally played his first round on Llama Links.

Months ago, after a recon driveby, the Kid claimed he was ready to set the new course record. While any standing records are unofficial and will not be discussed here, it was moot on this day as the Kid and the Large Professor played not strokes but skins, those two-stroke skins that make Llama Links such a challenge. Gaslamp made a statement nonetheless — eventually.

No one threatened during the first three holes as the Kid got schooled on just how small the targets are and how, ah, tricky the greens are. Meanwhile, Large Professor was up to his usual mediocrity, hitting ’em alternately fat, thin, right, and short.

No. 4 — Ringer’s Folly — marked a change, however, as the Kid began to lock in on the pin. His pitch-in was right on line and dipped low into the cup and rattled the pin, only to almost bounce back out, victim to the Links’ distinctive and notorious hairy holes, overgrown and ominous. This caused the sunny San Diegan to proclaim that the Llama was definitely spitting.

The twosome arrived on the elevated tee box of No. 7 — Pin’s Head — with not a skin between them, at which point Gaslamp eerily asked “This is a scoring hole, isn’t it?” Large Professor had to admit that it is historically one of better holes. The Kid put it just short and right, on the apron, and approximately eight feet from the hole. Deciding to putt off the apron instead of chip — always a crucial decision on the Llama — fate smiled on him as his effort bounced and rolled to the edge of the cup and spilled in for the birdie.

Kid Gaslamp’s cool seven on 7 were the only skins claimed this day, and left him naturally wondering where the real competition was. The gauntlet is definitely down in front of Ringer T, MADDOG, LP, and especially the elusive Jaime Las Palmas, that don of the desert who allegedly spends his days honing his golf game and luring nubiles back to his box canyon grotto. A trip to the beach is in order for Jaime so the Series can have a full and proper crew teeing off to see where things actually stand. In the mean time, here are the updated standings in the Llama Links Skins Series.

MADDOG Rises Up on “Rover’s Revenge”

A 7 AM call last Sunday morning from MADDOG — typical — resulted in an impromptu tour stop of the Llama Links Skins Series with the aforementioned MADDOG joined by Ringer T and the Large Professor.

On this day, the Llama proved the biggest winner, denying all comers 5 of the 9 potential skins on offer. Indeed it appears the birdies have flown the coop, perhaps beginning their migration early due to climate change?

In fact, only one bird was bagged all day. It came on 4 — “Rover’s Revenge.” The Professor had put his tee pitch on the dance floor, perhaps 12 feet from the cup, while MADDOG ended up on the fringe. While LP was lining up his long-shot birdie putt, he heard a shout and looked up. MADDOG had chipped his second shot cleanly off the fringe and dropped it gingerly onto the green with a chance. And indeed it rolled true, rattling against the flagstick and dropping in. Clutch.

But the foreskin was not quite a done deal. Large Professor had a birdie putt that, if sunk, would deny MADDOG’s glory and push the skins to the next hole. He lined it up and stroked it. It was right on line. It appeared as if LP would snatch the skins from MADDOG’s locked jaws. However, the putt came up 2 inches short and the rabid one cherished the uncircumcised sweetness.

In the end, MADDOG’s 4 on Rover’s Revenge were the only skins Llama Links conceded that day, leaving 5 bonus skins on the table for collection by the first one of the trio to skin in subsequent events. The 4 skins moves MADDOG into a tie with Ringer T atop the table. Things are getting interesting.

Ringer T’s Shit Don’t Stink in Llama Links Skins Opener

The first-ever round of the Llama Links Skins Series occured recently (For current LLSS standings, click here).

Due to the highly covert nature of Llama Links, the three inaugural participants — Large Professor, MADDOG, and Ringer T — arranged to meet at a location nearby. LP considered blindfolding the new initiates to further protect the exact coordinates of LL, but ultimately deemed them worthy of full disclosure.

Once on site, Ringer T slyly began employing Jedi mind tricks, observing that LP takes Llama Links skins a wee bit too seriously, which planted seeds of doubt and threw the Professor off kilter. After a quick warm-up on 1, however, the Ringer’s true stripes came out on 2, as he neatly collected the first-ever skins of the Llama Links Skins Series with a neat birdie.

The grouping moved on to 3 — “Pachinko” — the most challenging hole on the course. An uphill 45-yarder with a sloping, postage-stamp green that is protected by danger on all sides. Bramble crowds the green back and right and the dreaded Pachinko Tree looms left.

MADDOG showed ample moxy, and some short-game touch, by staring down the hazards and nailing his tee-pitch up onto the dance floor, then stroking a clutch one-putt to draw his first LLSS blood.

As we teed off on 4, the Ringer faced a moment of humiliation as his putter handle was sullied with, well, with doo. After extensive cleaning efforts, the trio continued the round, but Ringer T was visibly rattled by the scat distraction. In fact, all three players began resembling the offending matter as no skins were taken over the remaining five holes. The decision was made to carry the six outstanding skins to a play-off hole. Pachinko was chosen.

Ringer T had clearly settled back down at this point and was singularly focused. He’d tasted the first two skins and wanted more. Ultimately, he got ’em — after a deadly accurate tee-pitch, the Ringer exhibited just how cleanly he could wield his once-fouled flat stick, canning a dicey putt for the bird to claim the 6 skins, giving him 8 on the day and a clear victory.

In all, the inaugural event of the Llama Links Skins Series was filled with drama and symbolism, with observers keenly anticipating future action.

[This recap of the first event was posted after the recap of event No. 2, so the chronology is off a bit. Deal. –Pub Wisdom]

Large Professor Scores with Late Fireworks

He was in, he was out, and — ultimately — back in. We’re talking about Rancho Mirage homeboy and all-around man-about-town Jaime Las Palmas, whose presence was up in the air until just prior to tee-off. Las Palmas took in Llama Links for the first time with a blend of befuddlement, amazement, skepticism, and — foremost — confidence. His skills are documented and well honed by daily rounds at the club. Would those skills be on display on this day?

It was clear early on that the great equalizer that is Llama Links didn’t have a JLP walkover in mind. Indeed, when the last divot landed, the whole round was turned on its ear, with JLP posessing no skins to speak of and the spoils instead shared among the remaining dark-horse duo, Large Professor and MADDOG. Click here to view the table for the 2008 Llama Links Skins Series.

To his credit, JLP played admirably during his first round on the Llama, consistently racking up tidy pars — no mean feat due to Llama Links’, er, unique course conditions. But bird is the word that earns skins at Llama Links, and it was MADDOG, not JLP, that struck first — on the hardest hole on the course, no less.  

The third hole — “Pachinko” — features a sloping, postage-stamp green ringed with danger. Thick bramble shrouds the green right and back, the vaunted Pachinko tree looms on the left, and abundant condo windows beckon errant shots and repair checks. As a topper, the green’s elevated configuration spells trouble for any shots that come up short. 

MADDOG was unflappable, undaunted, and undeterred by these intimidating hazards as he stepped into the tee box with three skins riding. He steeled himself, then nutted his tee wedge, flying it within 12 inches of the hole, then tapped in to collect the first three skins.

Throughout the round, Large Professor consistently came up short and left (puzzling — he usually misses right??) and never threatened while Las Palmas and Maddog flirted with opportunities to skin on holes 4-8. Ultimately, no birds flew on those holes, carrying 6 over to 9.

Much to the chagrin of the visitors, Large Professor’s wedge came alive just at the right time, as he stroked it true and put his tee shot on the dance floor, leaving a white-knuckle 5 footer for the birdie while neither JLP or MADDOG got close enough to threaten. The Professor rattled home his one-putt to claim the 6 skins in what essentially amounts to highway robbery.

Pub Wisdom knows LP’s not proud and will take ’em where he can get ’em. Better luck next time.