The start of the 10th annual Boys & Girls Club of the Harbor Area Westside branch golf tournament was anything but ordinary.
About 50 golfers formed a circle just past the ladies tees on the first hole of Costa Mesa Country Club's Los Lagos course Monday.
The goal was to toss a golf ball into a hole cut into the grass. The bouncing and rolling white balls reminded me of large hail stones from the fiercest of storms.
The golf ball toss was a fun lead-in to the real work of the day: playing golf, cracking jokes and laughing.
I played with three guys who bleed Costa Mesa: Vito Vento and Boys & Girls Club board member Raul Jara and his uncle Roberto Jara.
Vento and Roberto Jara are members of the public club — Jara joined in the late 1960s and has probably logged hundreds if not thousands of rounds on Los Lagos and the club's other course, Mesa Linda.
Raul Jara has been on the board for 11 years and played baseball at Estancia High School.
The format was a scramble, meaning each player hits and the group decides which shot they will all play from next.
This style takes a boatload of pressure off. I can get up there and swing knowing three guys can back me up.
But this format usually yields some incredibly low scores from groups with players who have single handicaps, so you usually have to log a significant amount of birdies.
My tee shots were inconsistent, while approach shots were a bit cleaner. I helped the most on the greens, hitting 20- to 30-foot putts within a couple of feet.
Let me dwell for a minute on the greens.
Course superintendent Jim Fetterly and his staff do an incredible job on the putting surfaces. They rolled as smooth as any greens at a private club and looked the part too.
The greens at some public clubs have their fair share of tiny craters, made when incoming shots strike the grass. If left unrepaired, the tiny holes can create bumpy rolls for putts.
The Los Lagos greens were virtually free of these indents, which means golfers are good about repairing them or not many players are hitting the green with their approach shots (hopefully not the case).
Vento made a few long putts, revealing his acumen on greens: knowing how much the putt breaks and how fast it will roll.
I played 10 holes before heading back to work. Our group was either one or two under par at that point, but score is really secondary to how many kids will reap the benefits from players' financial generosity.
The tournament generated about $30,000 to $35,000 for Boys & Girls Club programs, and for the first time it was a sell-out with 140 players, Raul Jara said.
The Westside branch of the local club, at Rea Elementary School in Costa Mesa, offers adult-supervised activities such as homework assistance, computer training, arts and crafts projects and sports, according to the organization's website, http://www.harborareabgc.com.
BRYCE ALDERTON writes for the Daily Pilot's sister paper the Coastline Pilot. He can be reached at email@example.com or (714) 966-4627.