If you haven't gotten in it yet already, make sure you get into the Miller Masters Fantasy Golf Contest this year. It takes two minutes to enter once you get to the link.
We thought just in case you weren't familiar with all the participants in the event this year that we would do a preview article looking at each golfer, hitting their strengths and weaknesses as well as breaking down their chances at winning the Erv Cup this year.
Dan Marino, Charles Barkley. Karl Malone. Alex Bollmeyer. Ken Griffey Jr. Ted Williams. Barry Bonds.
If you are creating a list of the greatest athletes of all time to never win a championship in their sport, I don't see how you don't have these names near the top of your list. Consistently great and often phenomenal but the ultimate prize has always alluded them. Alex has a chance to change that this weekend.
The story of Alex Bollmeyer in the Miller Masters is always the same. 7 great holes, 2 terrible holes. If he can ever find a year to avoid the 2 blowup holes, I think he's got a chance to win not only the Individual Championship but the Best Ball Trophies as well. He just can't afford that one shot that goes out-of-bounds and ruins the round for him. Unfortunately for Alex though, Donald Trump's views on immigration and foreign policy have been more consistent than his driver this summer. And that's saying something. I'd expect Alex to be "hitting three" off at least one tee box on Saturday.
I like to consider Andy as the Sergio Garcia of the Miller family golfing group. A lot of raw, natural ability but you're never sure if he's going to be able to harness it into a complete round. The host of the event this year, the Ballard Golf and Country Club, is a Par 36. Andy is just as likely to shoot a 38 as he is a 58 on Saturday. You just never know what you're going to get out of him.
I know there's one thing you're never going to get out of Andy though, and that's a practice swing. I've never seen anyone just get up and hit their ball like Andy does. There is no wasted time with Andy. I'd imagine he was like that in other sports as well back in the day. I can envision in high school, Coach MIddleton telling Andy to take the first pitch to make the pitcher work a little bit and Andy swinging out of his shoes at a first pitch fastball no matter where it was at. Or Coach Christensen telling the offense he wanted at least 3 or 4 ball reversals before they looked for a shot, only to have Andy put up a 3-pointer the first time he touched the ball. No wasting time for Andy. If he was playing a round by himself on an empty course I'd be shocked if he finished his round in anything over 45 minutes.
And I may have lied a little bit in that first paragraph. If I had to pick between Andy shooting a 38 or a 58, I'd definitely lean towards 58.....but it's close.
The three time defending Miller Masters Individual Champion. After dropping the inaugural tournament at the Talons of Tuscany he's been an unstoppable force at these events. Just like an great champion then, the key to 2016 for Ben will be focus. Does he still have the drive to keep chasing championships or is he content to just rest on his laurels and coast? As much as it pains me to say this, if Ben is at his best on Saturday there probably isn't much of chance for anyone else to bring home the Erv Cup.
But there are signs of 2016 being a down year for Ben. In 2015, him and his league partner Matt Fjelland were in contention for first place for the entire year before having to settle for a Top 5 finish in Leauge. This year was a much different story for the pair. After struggling early in the League season, they clawed their way to a Top 20 finish but did not have near the success they did in the prior year. The difference from 2015 to 2016? Well if you ask Matt it wasn't him. In a real life quote that I definitely didn't make up, Matt said "Ben just didn't carry his weight this year. I felt like I played pretty comparably to last year but Ben just seemed to drop a bit. Points were on the table for us but Ben wasn't able to score them this year."
Could Ben's slide from 2015 to 2016 mean the Erv Cup will be finding a new home this year?
While Ben may be the favorite to win the Individual portion of the Miller Masters on Saturday, you'd have to think Gary is a favorite to win the Best Ball portion. Gary may not have gotten in a lot of rounds this summer but the ones he has have been partner heavy.
Best Ball with Ava? Check.
Alternate shot with Chase? Check.
Best Ball with Jackie? Check.
Best Ball golf is all about finding a rhythm and coming up with clutch shots. Gary has been working towards that all summer. Now I'm not saying the field of competitors on Saturday are the world's greatest golfers by any means but whoever Gary gets paired up with on Saturday should be at least a slight upgrade over a Kindergartener, a First Grader, and a woman in her 60s. Even if he got stuck with Mitch Eslick on Saturday, that would be an upgrade over at minimum 2 of the 3 people he's played Best Ball with all year (I'm not ready to make a ruling on the Mitch vs. Chase debate yet). And if he gets paired up with any of the other six possible options? He could be riding that upgrade all the way to a pair of Best Ball trophies.
Matt will definitely have the most golf under his belt this year heading into the 2016 Miller Masters. I would venture to say that he will have nearly twice as many holes played this year as anyone else in the field. And with 90% of those holes being played at the Ballard Golf and Country Club, you have to like his chances.
And as if you needed another reason to think 2016 may be Matt's year, he will come into this Miller Masters in the best shape of his life. September 10th should mark the end of Week 9 for Matt in his 10 week Farrell's body sculpting class. The guy will be in peak physical condition and ready to dominate anyone that stands in his way. As long as he isn't doing pushups on the tee box or Kenpo kicks in between putts, he should be in contention for the Erv Cup as we head toward Hole 9.
Always an adventure when Mitch Eslick steps on the golf course. One year he was tearing up grass in the rough with his bare hands to improve his lie, one year came wearing his mom's visor because he thought it looked good on him, one year he confused his pitching wedge with his 3 wood because he thought the 3 looked like a W, and last year he came with brand new clubs but forgot to take all the plastic coverings off of them until 5 minutes prior to our tee time. Really excited to see what happens this year with Mitch; I think almost anything could be in play. Could he run out of golf balls by the 4th hole? Why not. Is it possible that he uses his putter as a driver at some point in the day? I wouldn't bet against it.
So while I don't think there is much of a chance that Mitch wins the Individual Championship on Saturday, there's always a great chance Mitch's team will be in contention for the Best Ball trophy. While Mitch has trouble tying together a complete round, he does have glimpses of brilliance throughout the day which serves him well during Best Ball. You're not going to get 20-25 consistent shots out of Mitch in Best Ball but you are going to get 3-5 shots that are unbelievable. So if he gets paired with someone consistent who can battle through those bad shots and capitalize on the great shots, they could bring home the title. And worst case scenario, Mitch's best ball groups is going to be full of laughs and their cart is going to be stocked with beef jerky all day. Not a bad day on the golf course.
Nick is the type of guy you hate if you are trying to get good at something. Take me for example. I'll probably have around 40-50 rounds of golf under my belt by the time this event tees off on Saturday. Despite that, I have no idea where my drives are going to end up on any tee off. I could be in the left rough, the right rough, the next fairway over....who knows. Nick will have maybe 5 rounds in on the year by Saturday and he will still step up to the 1st tee box on Saturday and take his baseball/golf swing and put one 275-290 yards down the middle of the fairway. It's sickening. Nick is one of the few contestants in this event that is not training for the Des Moines Half Marathon this year. He could wait until the night before the marathon to decide to race and still beat all of our times by at least 10 minutes.
But that driver is Nick's biggest weapon on the golf course. The Ballard Golf and Country Club is a beautiful course but it isn't Augusta National or Pebble Beach by any means. If you can go 275-290 yards in the fairway every drive at Ballard you are looking at a short chip to the green on every Par 4 or an approachable 2nd shot on a Par 5. That's quite an advantage. Like every year, if Nick's driver is working he will be at or near the top of the leaderboard all day.
First year for Ron playing the Miller Masters as an actual member of the Ballard Golf and Country Club. For years he had used home course advantage at the Rolfe Golf and Country Club to climb up the leaderboard in the Miller Open. It will be interesting to see if he can do the same this weekend at the Miller Masters. It's only been one summer of play for him at Huxley but he's really gotten to know the course very well. He knows where the fairway ends and the rough begins. He knows where the course goes slightly uphill and where it goes downhill. Now most of that knowledge comes from pushing his golf cart around the course all summer when it dies, but it's valuable information nonetheless.
Ron will be one of the select few who have a round in the 30s on the course this year. Another one of those on Saturday and he may have to find a spot in his new house to display the Erv Cup for the year. On the other hand though, Ron also probably has the most rounds in the 50s on the course this year as well. If one of those rounds shows up on Saturday, Ron could be looking forward to the Best Ball section of the day by Hole 4 or 5.