While reflecting on their third consecutive Texas Golf Association league play championship, team captain Shawn Walsh and his Tierra Verde Golf Club teammates avoided boasting of clutch shots and skillful putts.
Instead, the group of golfers credited normalcy for their latest triumph. Walsh said even though he gets nervous for tournament play, he tries to treat it like a normal round of golf with his close friends.
“It’s all about keeping stuff as close to what you normally do,” Walsh said.
Walsh and friends topped Gleneagles Country Club of Plano 6.5 to 5.5 in the TGA match-play championship May 31 at the Slick Rock Course at Horseshoe Bay Resort in Marble Falls. Tierra Verde is an upscale municipal course in southwest Arlington. In addition to Walsh, the team consists of Josh Irving, Randy Stephens, Ben Hicks, Doug Foster, Zee Siddiqui, Joe Bauer, Trey Rowe and Tierra Verde club professional Chad Williams.
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“We’re playing nothing but country clubs,” Walsh said. “And we’re blue-collar guys. The first time we did it, I thought, ‘This is unbelievable.’ Last year I couldn’t believe we did it a second time. This year it was like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening again.’”
To defend its title, the Tierra Verde team had to play 54 holes in the span of about 28 hours. Rainy conditions on May 29 forced the golfers to have to play both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on May 30. All 36 holes on May 30 were played on the picturesque Apple Rock course that features view of Lake LBJ. Tierra Verde defeated Green Tree Country Club of Midland 6.5 to 5.5 in a morning round and then took down tournament No. 1 seed River Crest Country Club of Fort Worth in the afternoon round.
“I think our experience, not just on that course but in these matches, is a pretty good advantage,” Foster said.
The team is experienced and consistently successful. Tierra Verde has been playing in the TGA league for six years, has made the playoffs five times, has won three titles and sports a 38-7-2 all-time record.
“There’s not a situation we haven’t been in,” Stephens said.
Against River Crest, the situation was that the Fort Worth country club was up two points on the Tierra Verde squad with five holes to play. “Then came errant shots,” Hicks said.
The errant shots weren’t being fired by the Tierra Verde team members. “As soon as you can put pressure on your opponent, funny things happen,” Hicks said.
Match-play teams have players of various skill levels. All the players have a chance to contribute to the overall success of the team.
“That’s the best part about it – the competition,” Foster said.
The Tierra Verde team members, many of whom play together every weekend at their home course, might thrive on the competition. But hanging out together after a day of golf is what the team members arguably look forward to the most.
“We have a whole lot of fun playing golf,” Walsh said. “We have a lot of fun afterwards sitting in somebody’s hotel room, busting each other’s chops, talking smack and having a good time and drinking beer.”
The Tierra Verde team members range in age from 28 to 61. And many of them have been playing together six or more years. They never forget to have a good time on the golf course.
“We’re just normal Joes playing golf,” Walsh said. “And (some opponents), they’re trying to make it bigger than it is. You’ve got to laugh at those guys.”