When shadows from the overhanging trees start blocking out sunlight, and the course cools, an army of men carrying golf bags make their way to the first tee.
They all collect around the back tee box at Meadow Park’s executive course – also known as the “Williams Nine” – offer a few words, even crack a few one-liners before each of them, in rapid-fire succession, tee off.
It is a 16-some all playing the same hole at the same time.
Word has gotten around about the weekly summer Monday skins game at Meadow Park. Entry fee is not too steep – $20 per hopeful. And the prize is enticing – a whole wad of cash.
Taking one buzz word from the popular reality-television show “Survivor” – here you have to OUTLAST!
On this Monday night, a few fresh faces have shown up at 7 p.m., adding to the already wide-varying mix of golfers.
“Any ringers?” an ex-PGA Tour player asks, glancing around at the cast.
They are a mixture of everything: Two best friends are teaching professionals. Another is a U.S. Army soldier from Oklahoma. Two others are insurance salesmen. One is a beer distributor. An NCAA Division I golfer is here. A couple Chambers Bay caddies are also present. And the organizer of the whole event happens to be the Foley’s restaurant co-owner.
They also come in all ages, too – teenagers to 50-somethings.
This has been an ongoing competition for eight weeks, so the regulars certainly know as soon as one golfer hits, another moves into the tee box, plants a tee into the ground and wastes no time firing away.
Afar, after all have struck their tee shots, the green sits with a bad case of the mumps. Golf balls litter the putting surface everywhere. The hole is surrounded by a legion of white dots.
To win, all it takes is one man to post a low score (ace, eagle, birdie) nobody else does. To push, all it takes is two to post the same low score. Pars do no business here.
On this particular night, Derek, a teaching professional, fires the first shot, rolling in a 40-foot putt for eagle on the short par-4 first hole to nab a skin.
The drama is just building: The moving part of watching a mass skins’ game, other than the fascination of seeing 16 men stand around a tee box, is what happens on the green. The loneliest person on each hole is the one closest to the hole – he has to wait out 15 other guys either chipping or putting.
It has to be impossible for that in-close golfer not to gear up to make a putt for a win. But as soon as he sees another combatant drain a putt, suddenly he needs to make one just to push – and has the entire group pulling for him.
Take the third hole: The ex-PGA Tour golfer, considered one of the better putters of his day, was in the closest 10 feet away. Everybody expected HIM to make his putt. But as soon as Kyle, a soldier, made a 15-footer for birdie right in front of him, the stakes changed.
And, of course, the former professional golfer matched the birdie.
These are the types of games that can huddle up a group of men, cheering for one cause. It can make men giggle seeing their tee shots closer than anybody’s, knowing they have an opportunity to take a pot of gold.
Three holes later, the NCAA golfer rolls in a 16-footer. Last up is Jamie, the brother of the restaurant owner who sends his 10-footer right in the heart of the hole for a push. All the NCAA golfer can do is laugh, and later give him a high-five on the next tee.
Eventually, Derek, the teaching professional, takes home the lone skin of the evening – $300.
That is when it becomes clear what this skins game really is: Sure, some of it is about money. Bare-bones, it ultimately becomes about the hilarity of watching the good, bad and eventful golf provides.