Every fall a selected group of the best Senior Golfers from Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin meet for The Tri-State Challenge. The golf match is three days of intense competition and more importantly – bragging rights. The Ryder Cup format event rotates annually from state to state among three fine old private courses. Once a golfer is selected to represent his state he is eager to return each year. The competition is intense and the golf is well played by old guys who forget about age.
Racine Country Club is my favorite course among the rotation. The membership of RCC proudly boasts: “The greens never putt slower than 13 on the stimpmeter.”
I will never forget my first trip around this century old beauty located in the densely populated suburbs south of Milwaukee. After three putting, my fifteen-foot eagle putt, on the linoleum-slick first green my mind was still spinning as I hit my tee shot to the semi-blind second hole. We mounted our golf carts and followed the cart path over a raise in the fairway when a remarkable bridge came into view. As we started across the old erector-set metal bridge my cart came to an unconscious stop. Behold! A scene directly from an Alaskan PR Department advertisement, “Grizzly bears catching monster salmon in the fast moving waters of a beautiful wilderness river.” Wait a minute, those aren’t bears. They are fishermen in hip-waders armed with fly rods and huge dip-nets. I sat mesmerized watching an experienced fly-fisherman wrestling a huge salmon toward his fishing buddy with a, what I would call, musky net. The terrified fish, using every ounce of its strength, did a tail-standing leap, spit the fly and disappeared into the foaming water. An elbow from my playing partner brought me back to the present; we proceeded toward the green.
The RCC course crossed the Root River three more times throughout the round but the movie was the same at all three crossings. The river was lined with fishermen, about every fifty feet, taking advantage of the annual salmon spawn to fill their freezers, with the 12 to 20 lb. Coho and Chinook Salmon. These fish migrate up-stream from Lake Michigan to spawn each fall. RCC has worked out a deal with the city of Racine that allows the general public to enter their private grounds to fish as long as they stay along the river bank.
Being a golfer first and a fisherman second (or is it the other way around) my three days at RCC was enjoyable for more reasons than having the opportunity to compete on a hundred year old masterpiece.
The locals, who handled the lightening fast greens the best, won the match. The visitors putted better each day on the perfect surfaces, but the total experience at RCC was something to remember.