Golf and baseball go together like hand and glove
If you’re like me, this is a big weekend – spring training in baseball, and this weekend, pitchers and catchers reported. Soon, it will be the entire squads, and before you know it, opening day.
In fact, I think I can hear James Earl Jones’ inside my head right now: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” – Field of Dreams
Man, that’s inspiring.
There are two spring training leagues, of course. The Cactus League is pretty much all Phoenix/Scottsdale in Arizona; the Grapefruit League is in Florida. For baseball fans, many of whom are golfers, this is the perfect opportunity to take a vacation either in Florida or Arizona. The good thing about spring training is that those locations are also the best places to play golf this time of year.
I’ve been to a number of spring training games in Florida, but it was the one time I attended a Cactus League that I remember best. Heading out there in early March, I took in opening day for the Oakland Athletics at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. It was already in the 80s and the aroma of sun tan lotion, hot dogs, relish, peanuts and beer permeated the warm air. There are few smells better than that, especially coming out of winter.
I think the A’s won the game, but that was secondary, of course. Just being in the stands, hearing the crack of the bat, the pop of the mitt, and drone of the P.A. announcer is all it takes this time of year to start thinking about endless summers of yesteryear.
Fortunately, we have prepared a couple of guides for those who like to take in their favorite teams and play a little golf nearby. Here’s my guide for the Cactus League, and if you want to know about Florida, which is spread throughout a much larger area, here’s some help with that from GolfChannel.com travel editor, Brandon Tucker. Enjoy.
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Baseball Golf was developed for those who enjoy both the ebb and flow of the game of baseball and the thrill of hitting good golf shots. Basically, BG is played as a modified scramble between two 2-man teams. Shots are hit as they would be in any round of golf, but the scoring, and the ability to score is baseball oriented.
Teams: Two 2-man teams, one designated home, the other the away team. Each team is at bat and playing the field 9 times during the round of 18 holes. The home team plays the field on the first hole while the away team is at bat on the first hole. The home team is at bat on the second hole while the away team is in the field. This continues over the 18-hole round, so there are 9 innings in which each team is at bat and playing defense. Note: baseball Golf can also be played between two single players without the scramble rules.
Scoring: Best ball rules apply. If one member of a team scores a 3 and the other member scores a 4, the lowest score (3) is recorded. Handicaps can apply.
As in baseball, only the team at bat can score. The team playing the field can only prevent the at-bat team from scoring. So, if the team playing the field scores lower or equal to the at-bat team, they will have successfully prevented the at-bat team from scoring. However, if the at-bat team scores a lower team score than the team playing the field, they will have scored at least one run. If the at bat team score is one stroke lower than the team playing the field, they receive one run. Two strokes lower receives two runs, and so on. The team with the most runs at the end of 18 holes wins.
Fair and Foul Balls: A ball is considered to be fair when an at-bat team member lands his tee shot either in the fairway of a par 5 or par 4 hole, or on the green on a par 3. A ball is considered foul when it misses. If either of the at-bat team members hits a fair ball, the hole can be played as a scramble, meaning they both team members can play from what they consider to be the most strategic position for that hole. However, if both at-bat team members hit foul balls, they must play from their own positions until they both hole-out.
This rule gives the at-bat team a scoring advantage since the team playing defense has to play their own shots through the hole. That means that if the first at-bat player misses the fairway or the green from the tee, the second play must produce a fair ball to keep the team in decent scoring position.