Bud Nichols won the MGA Swatfest on January 11 at Slick Rock in an exciting one-hole playoff against 7 other winners of their respective flights.
The Swatfest started with 70 golfers and 8 flights. After one golfer in each flight was eliminated on each hole, the 8 flight winners (pictured) participated in a one-hole playoff on the storied 12th hole of Slick Rock. The 12th is a par-5 with out-of-bounds on both sides of the fairway and water everywhere. The resulting carnage was inevitable, as only 4 players made it to the green, not including Dave “the Commish” Collins, who demonstrated a lot of foresight by playing the hole with a water ball.
Dale Amstutz hit the best approach shot, hammering a 3-wood from 220 yards to 12 feet from the hole. After Bob Thornton and Sam Morrison missed long birdie putts, Amstutz’s eagle putt grazed the hole, netting him a birdie. As 50 well-imbibed spectators watched, Bud Nichols nervously sank his 4-foot birdie putt to tie Amstutz, and then won the chipoff by calmly hitting a remarkable shot from 20 yards to within 3 feet of the hole to claim the championship.
PASSING NOTES: Like many flight winners, Nichols’ journey had some tenuous moments. On the fifth hole of elimination play, with only 4 players remaining in his flight, Bud took an 8 on a hole, which fortunately (and incredibly) was matched by one of his fellow competitors. Bud won the chipoff and the rest is history. Not so lucky was Steve Wash, competing in the low handicap first flight. Playing the difficult par-5 third hole with 6 players still remaining, Steve parred the hole despite hitting his tee shot in the water and still lost the hole in a chipoff because none of the players made a bogey. One of the highlights of the day was the introduction of Steve Hatch, the new Director of Golf at Horseshoe Bay. Steve roamed the fairways in a maintenance cart dispensing free beer to the players from a large keg. The competitors viewed this as a promising start to his career at the Bay. The “continuous putting” rule used for the event, coupled with very fast greens, caused Charlie Vincent to quip “I had my fastest 4-putts ever!”. Commish Collins has a slight lead over Bomber Stratton in Player of the Year points after the first two events.
The next event is the Individual Net Stableford on January 23 at Apple Rock.