Campus golf: A Flat Hat sports tradition like no other

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March 1, 2010

11:20 PM

In the annals of William and Mary athletic competition, few events are as storied as Campus Golf. And at the pantheon of physical excellence stands the annual Flat Hat Sports Campus Golf team, now in its third incarnation.

Last year, I tagged around with the sports staff, chronicling their exploits, but this year I would get to play for the first time.

Today, my name would join the ranks of some of the greatest ever to walk the greens of the Sunken Gardens. Names like Dooley, Pike and Weidman were running through my mind as we walked up to claim our clubs — how could I fill the shoes of those legends?

Matt Poms, Miles Hilder, Sam Sutton, Mike Barnes and I would make up the Flat Hat fivesome. We chose four clubs: two 6-irons, a 9-iron and a putter. The putter was Poms’ choice. It would not be his last mistake of the day.

Kelly Bodie is our caddie, replacing former Flat Hat staffer Summer Finck. Hilder is quick to make clear that while Kelly is our caddie, Summer is our inspiration.

“Put down that Summer Finck is a golden god,” Hilder says.

The fact that he’s said the same line at least two years in a row doesn’t make it any less true, or bizarre.

“Poms do you actually play golf?” I ask as we step up to the first tee.

“Yeah I played in high school,” he says and drives his ball to the back wall.

Someone who may or may not have been me lets out an expletive as I turn around to glare at Poms, but my concentration is broken by Sutton moving his ball up the green like a hockey player, one tap at a time.

The second hole is essentially a straightaway with only a trashcan in the middle of the fairway. Poms nails the trashcan as I make Barnes, our freshman, take notes.

“Don’t make me take notes man, I can barely keep track of myself right now,” Barnes says.

“Hey, I just got a text from Dooley saying ‘do me proud,’” Sutton says.

“Man I’m not feeling great,” Barnes says as he wanders off to find his ball for the second time today.

“See, he would be proud of that.” Sutton and Hilder practically say it at the same time.

“I have seen way too many Tetris teams today,” Kelly Bodie adds as we head to the third tee.

Kelly has started taking notes as I work on chipping my ball over a bike rack. The lesson: as always, Kelly Bodie is awesome.

“This is my fourth year playing campus golf and I think I’ve played this course all four years,” Hilder says as we stand out front of Chandler.

This was the spot last year where Hilder and Weidman staged an impromptu driving contest, with a second floor window serving as the target. This year, he lays up for a three.

Poms goes four, Sutton dribbles Ovechkin-style up the hill for a five. I take a gentleman’s six and Barnes settles for finding his tennis ball.

We approach the tee box at the seventh hole. Sutton shouts excelsior as he drives the ball into the bushes. Hilder and Poms are locked in a tight battle for first place as Barnes and I bring up the rear.

Here is where my note taking — and my memory — gets a little shaky.

I remember taking a seven on the last hole. I remember Hilder and Poms fighting to the wire for the win, even though none of us kept score. I remember that Hilder is ultimately my boss, so I remember Miles winning in a rout.

I remember Barnes finishing in last, as I edge him by a stroke or two.

I remember posing for pictures with the rest of the Flat Hat staff. I remember copy editor Katie Lee wrapped up in toilet paper, although I can’t remember why.

I remember laughter and good times and the continuation of a tradition that originated before I got here and which will hopefully continue long after I’m gone.

Ultimately I realize this article is a little self-indulgent, but I’ll bet many of you have had similar experiences over the years playing Campus Golf. I joked about living up to the example of some of the guys who are no longer here, but it is kind of nice to be a part of that tradition.

So that was it, Campus Golf 2010. The highs, the lows and the Poms. I guess after all that, there’s really only one thing left to say:

Jeff Dooley, I hope we did you proud.

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