— Edward DiTusa (@edward_ditusa) August 4, 2018
2018 Virtual Open…. (Pro-Am)
Another year of the Golficity Virtual Open brought to you courtesy of Golficity and along with 18Birdies has come and gone. Regardless of what my score says (93 Gross/ 74 Net) I won the virtual open.
I played my round with Micheal Vrska (@vgolfman on Twitter)!! He’s the man who was one of the key innovators behind the Adams Golf brand before they where acquired by TaylorMade . He’s also the former director of golf innovation for Wilson golf.
He has been in the golf industry for over 20 years on the tech side and I was privileged enough to play my virtual open while sharing a cart with him.
“Why the Hell is he playing with you?”
I started communicating with Vman on twitter about two years ago. At the time he was global director of innovation for Wilson golf. This was also around the same time I started discovering all the amazing golf podcasts like the one brought to you by Golficity among others.
I kept hearing his name popping up here and there. I’m not sure how it happened but somehow he liked a comment of mine or something, I followed him, he followed me no big deal. I mean its twitter, that’s kind of the point.
I was really interested in upgrading my driver and I was interested in the one featured on golf channels Driver vs Driver. The Triton was not out in the market yet but I really wanted to hit it for myself. There was a golf show coming to my area and since at this point I’m not a big shooter like Frank and Mike so I’m a long way away from getting my pass to the annual PGA show in Florida I figured this was my best shot.
I reached out to Mr. Vrska and I had asked him if he was going to be at the show with Wilson golf. Sadly he informed me that not only would he not be there due to his work schedule but to make things worse Wilson had double booked themselves and they would also not be in attendance. I was disappointed but I also understand that’s how things are some time.
Well Mr. Vrska felt bad about it and sent two boxes of Wilson Duo’s my way despite me saying it wasn’t necessary. Tha’ts the kind of guy he is.
Another year goes by conversing back and forth on twitter and the same golf show comes up. I ask him again if he’s going to make it because I’d love the chance to meet him in person. Scheduling didn’t allow him to again but it was at this point he suggested that we get together to hit some balls or grab a bite to eat.
The 2018 Golficity Virtual Open provided an amazing opportunity to not only meet someone I look up to in person but also log my virtual open round all at the same time. I invited him to join me at a course in the the northwest suburbs of Illinois and lucky for me he was available.
When I told my wife that it was scheduled and who I was going to play with she responded with “why the hell is he playing with you?” Obviously she was just messing with me so we both had a good laugh.
My personal Pro Am day had finally arrived along with a heat wave. Thankfully Vrska likes to get out early and sweep the morning dew off the greens like I do so we knew we would be done before the sun was at its highest point. We had a Tee time for 6:47 am and while I was in the Pro Shop paying for my round I get his text “Vrska here.. Heading into pay now. Riding I assume?”
This is the point where I got nervous. This was actually happening!
I had just finished paying for my round and some warm up balls for us. As I turn around the man of the hour is right behind me. He greats me with a hearty handshake. We are ready to get this party underway.
Having never meet him before in person I had no idea what to expect. By the time we walked from the clubhouse to the driving range we where talking like we had been working together for years.
After our warm-up we make our way to the 1st tee. The two gentleman that we where paired up with hit their tee shots and now its my turn.
Here come the nerves again…
It’s not the normal first tee jitters this time, but something a bit more. Obviously I want to impress him so I was pressing a little.
Insert snap hook left.
Not the way I wanted to start the round but we where underway. Vrska pipped his down the right side of the fairway like it was nothing despite battling a summer cold and only hitting about 10 balls on the range.
“You Can’t Be Worse….”
On our way to my ball I joking mention to Vrska that I hope my poor skill set doesn’t bring his game down to much. Without missing a beat he jumps into a story. This was exactly what I was hoping to get with our round but I didn’t expect it so soon.
“You can’t be worse than this guy I saw at a Pro-Am…”
He goes on to tell me about this gentleman who was very clearly NOT a golfer. The guy shows up with wooden woods and mismatched irons. The guy showed up late (clearly filling in for someone who actually wanted to be there) so the only spot on the amateur side of the range was right next to the pros. I know if I was at a big time Pro-Am that would be the last place I would want to warm up. I would be so nervous I wouldn’t be able to hit the ball. Apparently this guy felt the same way.
The gentleman gets to his spot, turns around to grab a tee, turns around again to get a ball then one last turn to put the ball on the tee. He gets ready to take his first swing. Vrska describes this in detail to me while reenacting the guys movements. Imagine trying to make your shoulders touch in front of your chest while lifting them up towards your ears. Now try to swing a golf club. It was basically like that.
The guy takes his swing and WHOOSH he misses so bad that he barley gets enough of it to make it pop up about 3 inches and fall infant of him. That’s swing one. The guy puts the ball back on the tee and now the shoulders are higher then they where before. Takes his second swing and hits it on the very toe it takes a straight 90 degree turn and hits a PGA Pro in the back of the knee! He lets out a scream and falls like a ton of bricks! Everyone on the range stops, commotion ensues and the medical staff comes running over.
The unlucky amateur picks up his bag and walks straight to the parking lot and leaves. His total Pro-Am experience was two swings and an injured professional and probably the most embarrassing moment of his life. We both start laughing and he has successfully put my nerves to rest because I know I’m not as bad as that guy.
The Rest of the Round
The remaining 17 holes went along without a hitch as long as you don’t count my 8 lost balls and penalty drops. He continues to share some stories and I ask some questions about his carrier but it was mostly just two guys playing golf on a Saturday. Ultimate proof that golf brings people of all walks of life together.
After about 9 holes he offers a swing tip regarding my grip that he notices. We all have played with a guy who offers swing tips but when someone has 20 plus years in the business working with all types of instructors and Tour pros you listen to what he has to say. Needless to say I hit a few more drives in the fairway then I was before.
I said “I’m glad you didn’t save that tip until the end of our round” but its not like I was going to beat someone who is a single handicap. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of my own good shots…because I’m so bad off the tee my short game is pretty decent. I missed chipping in for birdie on one hole along with some other good lag putts to save bogey after wild tee shots.
I finished off on 18 with a chance for another birdie putt and if it wasn’t for an outing getting ready to tee off shouting “Adam, Adam, Adam…” at the top of their lungs as I’m hitting my putt I would have saved a stroke, but I was not upset with finishing with a par after hitting a fairway bunker, hitting the cart path on the second shot and then chipping it close on a par 5.
Club House Conversation
We shake hands on 18 and start heading to the clubhouse. I didn’t want our round to end so I asked him if I could buy him a soda. He accepted and now it was time to have an uninterrupted conversation about his experiences and opinions about the game of golf. We shared more stories back and forth. He told me about his favorite course hes ever played (Cypress Point), his “almost” hole-in-ones, and a few experiences with different Tour pros.
He even shared a story about his brothers albatross at a course that was having a soft opening. It was like having my own front seat to a potential podcast with Golficity except Frank and Mike weren’t there. The amount of stories I heard could go on for ten more paragraphs but the experience will last a lifetime.
I may not have had the lowest score in the Golficity open, but I definitely won it.
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