This is a posting about the upcoming World Series of Golf show, airing on CBS, in which I played and was interviewed. If you have a golf swing and the guts of a gambler, then this is the event for you.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - When you watch the World Series of Golf, chances are you won't see me during the competition. But you'll probably see some interviews with me.
That's good since my on-air talents were better than my on-course talents.
But you will see a guy by the name of Dee Tiller, a giant round-faced Texan, "From San Antone," as he'd say. Dee gets to the finals of the event. I won't ruin the surprise for you.
Dee eliminated me on the 14th hole of the first round. My final shot was a putt. It was also my first putt of the day. Why didn't I putt until the 14th hole? Golf is only a portion of the World Series of Golf.
The World Series of Golf is a high-stakes tournament that combines poker and golf. It's a $10,000 buy-in with the chance of taking home $250,000. Players bet on every shot - or they fold and go onto the next hole. When your money is gone, so are you.
Fortunately, I participated in the event as a representative of LasVegasGolf.com – the distributor of my golf blog. One of my bosses there, Josh Hill, who knows poker, was my financial advisor. He made the bets; I hit the shots.
I ran out of LasVegasGolf.com's dough on hole-14 when Dee called and raised my bet – forcing me to go all in. I had a chip shot on a par-3 from about 15 yards. I ran it off the green on the other side and then three-putted from there.
Dee went on to win our flight – but barely, as Mark Larsen, a quiet and patient golfer, took Dee to four playoff holes before Mark ran out of ante money and was, according to the rules, DQ'd.
Before I bash my game entirely, I did have some good moments. I won three holes forcing the others to fold based on my ability to hit a few good approach shots.
Having to hit a finesse shot is one thing. Having to hit a finesse shot with a couple thousand dollars on the line is another thing. And even worse: hitting that finesse shot with money at stake – in 40 mph winds.
The winds that day at Paiute Golf Resort were the most fierce I'd endured in my 18-plus years living here.
On hole-11 at Paiute, I hit a 325-yard drive right down the middle. My financial guru, Josh, turned to the croupier (that's what they call the official scorers) and said, "We'll fold."
As we drove to the next hole, I joked with Josh: "You know, I just hit one over 300 yards and you folded."
"Yeah," Josh said with a laugh, "well, he (meaning Dee) hit his 425 yards."
He was right. My game was not at its peak, so Josh bet conservatively. He was hoping for a big opening, but neither Dee nor Mark gave me any good openings.
It was a great learning experience for me. I highly recommend the event. It will be next spring, so begin preparing now.
On the golf side, make sure your driver is working long and accurate. If you can't dominate with your driver you'll be in trouble. An errant tee ball puts you behind the betting curve. Someone like Dee who crushes the ball into the wind and straight had a huge betting advantage on almost every hole.
Dee later told me that he thought he could have eliminated me earlier but he held back on pushing the bets. Granted, Dee has his share of Texas bravado, but due to his dominance off the tee, I think he actually might have stayed my World Series of Golf execution.
His driving dominance was blatantly evident on the par-4 10th hole. The dogleg left has a lake running up the entire left side. The drive requires a 200 yard clear to hit the narrow fairway. In that wind, Dee was the only one to hit land – just two feet away from the water in a bunker. Still, that two feet of sand was all he needed. The rest of us had no choice but to fold.
But the World Series of Golf is more golf than poker. Don't get me wrong: you need a decent golf game. But you need guts and cold nerves to make it happen. Before you try this format, make sure you've tested your nerves.
Better yet, do what I did: have a great organization sponsor you. Sure, I felt bad that I didn't win with their money. But I would have felt far worse knowing my savings account was down $10,000.
Josh and John, thanks. I'll be ready next year.