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Humor August 2014

Ernie's World

Trying to Keep My Eye on the Prize

By Ernie Witham

It’s not that I’m a bad golfer, I’m just a bit inconsistent. I can hit a long drive straight down the fairway then skull my approach shot right into the woods. Sometimes my pitch shot bounces off two or more trees, ricochets off a large rock, careens off my forehead, and ends up on the green three feet from the pin. I can then easily four-putt.

Great news for the suppliers of ace bandages, ibuprofen, ice packs, and physical therapists everywhere... I¹m playing golf again.

It’s not that I’m a bad golfer, I’m just a bit inconsistent. I can hit a long drive straight down the fairway then skull my approach shot right into the woods. Sometimes my pitch shot bounces off two or more trees, ricochets off a large rock, careens off my forehead, and ends up on the green three feet from the pin. I can then easily four-putt.

So, knowing that I’m not a championship-level hacker, my first inclination was to say no to my buddy Roger when he asked if I wanted to play in a celebrity fundraising tournament at Sandpiper, a course that offers not only regular hazards but also the opportunity to hit the ball into the Pacific Ocean on many holes.

But then Roger said: “It¹s the Santa Barbara Vintners Golf Tournament so there’s free wine and lunch.”

“Well. Seems like my civic duty then.” I got there early so I could support three local wineries: Foxen Vineyard, William James Cellars, and Jaffurs Cellars. They were each offering tastings of about six wines.

I went around four times, realizing after my 72nd tasting that I had “parred” the wine tasting. I tried high-fiving other participants, but without a lot of success.

Many of the wine offerings were pinot noirs. There were no merlots. That¹s because it was the tenth anniversary of the movie “Sideways” and Rex Pickett, who wrote the novel that became the movie, was the tournament host.

Rex is a really good golfer. In one scene in the movie, Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) are playing the 8th hole at the Alisal River Course in Solvang. When the impatient group behind hits up on them, Miles takes their ball and drives it right back at them, hitting their golf cart. Only Paul Giamatti couldn’t hit a golf  ball to save his life. So Rex is actually the one who hit that ball that hit the cart. I know because I was there that day as an extra, or as they more aptly referred to me “background” because I am so far away I could have been naked and no one would have noticed.

Other guest celebrities that played in the tournament included Richard Karn (“Home Improvement”), Don Ford (LA Lakers), Kathleen Bradley (“The Price is Right”) and Lydia Cornell (“Too Close For Comfort”).  They also had contests like Closest to the Pin, the Longest Drive and Longest Putt, a "Sideways" knowledge trivia contest, and a $30,000 car for a Hole-in-One on the 18th hole. 

Plus, they were selling raffle tickets for a bunch of prizes, including a $20-per-ticket grand prize, which I entered because the proceeds benefitted local charity Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, and because I’d had a lot of wine (I was now quite a few tastes over par).

Fortunately, just before we teed off I got in line for the Georgia's Smokehouse truck for my free lunch. I got a very nice kale salad... Okay, so I didn’t get a salad, I got the largest pulled pork sandwich they had with a bucket full of hush puppies, which I got all over myself, the golf cart and several other participants on the next fairway.

Each group was supposed to include one of the celebrities and I had worn my Montecito Journal hat just in case they were a celebrity short. “Hi Ernie Witham. Ernie’s World? You’ve probably heard of me.”

“No.” “Nope.” “Not  really.”  I was a bit disappointed, partially because my buddy Roger was one of the negative votes.

Fortunately it didn’t matter because we had Kathleen Bradley in our group. She had been one of the “Barker’s Beauties” on “The Price is Right.” And she was a very good golfer. 

Our foursome ended up just one over par. We didn’t win, but we all had a good time. After the round was over, there was more free wine, sandwiches, and prize drawings, including the grand prize of two nights stay at the posh oceanside Bacara Resort, a free dinner in their Bistro, a free wine tasting, and a free round of golf for two at Sandpiper. And... I won!

I hope I can help out at future charity events.

 

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