(1st Picture in this album)


(As inimitably chronicled by Tom (‘Grisham-Runyon”) Pisarri) The inaugural Duke is in the books!  Despite a last minute cancellation, a calendaring mistake by Carmine, a 2 hour wait for dinner at Damon's Grill, a tropical storm that sat just off the coast and a stalking raccoon, The Duke was a rousing success! The culmination of The Duke was a spirited, Saturday afternoon, 5 man team scramble between Hillsdale and River Vale. With Bear, herniated disc and all, captaining the Hillsdale team of Howie , Steve , Randy and Carmine, Hillsdale came to the 18th hole 3 under. The 18th at Duke's home course of Black Bear is a 533 yd 3 shot par 5 with agua the last 200 yards on the right up to and in front of the green The 3rd shot in most cases is a sweaty palm, knee knocking  pitch of about 60-80 yards over water to a small green. After 2 solid shots and a great big sigh of relief pitch by Steve K to the green the Hillsdale team was poised to make a finishing hole birdie. The opportunity to make a 4 wilted slowly as one by one the putts of Bear, Steve Randy and Howie missed their mark. Things looked bleak when they realized they were down to their last putt. For some then unknown and befuddling reason (except to Carmine) the Hillsdale team left their fate to none other than Cobra. When he played with me earlier in the Duke he could not find the bottom of the cup from 2 feet much less make this 18 foot, down the hill slider. After hearing Howie mutter under his breath, something like, "who's putting? Oh s--t!", and Randy saying a quick mantra dedicated to the Mahareshi, the golf Gods and of course Carmine, with Steve thinking,  "you better not mess up my great pitch!" and Bear thinking how his team would be remembered if the putt was missed, Carmine, checked the line, stepped up to the ball, gave it one more quick look, closed his eyes and stroked his last putt of the Duke. AS the ball found its way down the hill oscillating back and forth as it went Hillsdale was silent.  The silence was broken by the sound of surlyn striking metal at the bottom of the cup! The roar from the Hillsdale 5 was deafening and heard by the RiverValians negotiating the treacherous 17th. Hi 5s were exchanged in an nauseating number as the Hillsdale retreated to a perch above the 18th to watch The RVers play 18. In the scramble format Duke was chosen to hit last from each location. We chose to use his last drive of the day as he drove it to the top of the hill leaving a long second shot that would parallel the water hazard. As we prepared for the second shot the Duke gave a quick pep talk. He mentioned something about remembering when we were in gym class and Ron Cherkin talked to us about.....  Lumpy quickly put an end to the less than Lombardi like story and proceeded to hit his ball into the water...... as did Bill Holler..... and as did Ken Jones. Confident that I had not hooked a fairway wood all day and since this was a moment to rekindle some of that old time glory I established my line, weakened my grip just a tad, pulled back and promptly hooked it into the water!!!! As the Hillsdale team exchanged more hi 5s watching this Normanesque meltdown, only one was left standing. The Duke. Il Capitan. With no comment and just a look that said, "I've got this", Duke took one last drag of his cigarette, maneuvered the butt between his thumb and middle finger and flicked it nonchalantly to the ground, exhaled a little puff of smoke out of the side of his mouth and took out his trusty hybrid. He adjusted his sunglasses and just before he drew back the club you could see a hint of a forward press. After a quick pause at the top,  he proceeded to hit a tiger like stinger that started right . . . over the water and turned gently to the left settling in the fairway about 75 yards from the pin. The RVers order throughout the match for all strokes except putting was: Bill H, Bill L, Ken, me then Duke. With the Hillsdale team hooting and hollering, Bill H took aim at the green and with a workman's like stroke hit the green and landed about 25 ft away.  Suddenly the hooting and hollering stopped. Next was Bill L. Never one to keep anyone waiting Bill quickly chunked one. A derisive round of applause wafted from our 5 adversaries. The applause continued as Ken duplicated Bill's shot. As I stepped up to the ball I had 1 thought. If I miss this shot I might never live it down. As I choked the club I could hear the silence. The gods (or God depending on your religious affiliation) were with me and I hit a ball to about 15 feet above the hole.

        As we walked onto the undulating green, the Hillsdale team clearly broke local rule 22(b) which clearly states, " . . . During a match, no opposing player not playing in the group playing the hole may approach the green and hoot and holler at the opposing players in a juvenile or childish manner in an attempt to distract the other players or cause them to lose focus and miss a putt". As the RVers mulled filing a notice of infraction Captain Duke said, "let's just sink the putt and shut them up." As the River Vale team got ready to putt Bill L went first. Bill was our "rabbit" going out first on the putts showing us the line. As long as we did not say "just make sure you get it too the hole" Bill was fine. Of course, if we said that he would smoke it through a break and be of no use. Bill using his putter, aptly named the Enterprise for its uncanny resemblance to Captain Kirk's ride, calmly stroked the ball just outside the break. Next was BigManKen1. Ken, after nearly harming himself over his play the day before, had turned himself around and made some key putts Saturday. As he sized up the putt he noticed although the putt was down hill it was into the grain and there was some Poa Anna amongst the All Climate Bent/Rye grass. As he looked to Bill H for some advice about whether the Poa Anna would affect the putt, Bill in his inimitable style said, "Sorry Ken, I was just thinking about whether we should go to Bottoms Up or Crazy Horse tonight." Finally, as Ken brushed away a small pebble in his line he saw Carmine turn to Randy and heard him say, "Manos de Piedra" and it had nothing to do with his pugilistic prowess. Kenny remembering his Spanish from Mr. Leonard's class and understanding the reference promptly stroked the ball into the middle of the cup - for a 4 - and a tie. One teamed turned silent and the other erupted. The inaugural Duke ended as it should have - in a tie -  and all agreed that it the "Championship" and bragging rights to the Duke would be played out in 2009.



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