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AUGUST 25, 1997



  by Chuck Reidt
   Boys of Summer and their Games
   The high point of my golf calendar is the annual Spokane Hackmaster Golf Tournament that myself and eleven other middle-aged hacks have perpetuated for many years.
   Not unlike a lot of golfers who bond together for some form of golf pilgrimage, the Hackmaster fans the embers of a latent competitive spirit, four days of varied golf competition in the friendly and inexpensive environs of Spokane.
   The Hackmaster format consists of five rounds of stroke play where individual scores, number of putts, birdies and long drives are totaled and adjusted on a net handicap basis to count for prize money and points towards the Champion's Trophy.
   The sixth round is a scramble format where points and money also apply, but none of the individual events, i.e. greenies etc. During the course of the five stroke play rounds, your foursome (changes each round) plays against the other foursomes for team money while the two lowest "net" front and back nine scores win money on an individual basis.
   This causes you to pull together as a foursome each round and also rewards stellar individual play. The next intense round was Flight Championship fourth round. You're grouped into three flights by previous score totals, then within your peer group you compete to be Flight Champion of your division. The scramble format has the least pressure and is a great way to finish the tournament.
   The tournament begins as a caravan that leaves on a Thursday morning and drives directly to our Spokane hotel. A quick check-in and then off to our first round tee off at the treed but user friendly Downriver G.C.; a modest length course with small greens that reward a straight shot over distance.
   Second round is an early morning start at Indian Canyon G.C., a national top 100 Best Public Course pick. Also modest in length, this heavily treed, sometimes narrow course has small sloped fast greens that can eat your lunch. However, keep it straight and putt from below the cap and you'll tame the beast. If you only play one course in Spokane, this hilly, scenic, dog-legged well-conditioned course is my personal favorite.
   Our afternoon round is at Hangman Valley, just 20 minutes south of Spokane. It's long (two 600 yard holes) with large mildly sloped greens and wonderful fairways. The course has a large creek running through it; the terrain is moderate except for the two Godzilla holes whose tee boxes are carved out of the valley hillside high above the course. Spectacular!
   Saturday's two rounds are at Meadowood G.C., 30 minutes east of Spokane at Liberty Lake, just one mile off I-90 freeway. An open links' style course in super shape, the challenge comes from lots of sand traps, some water and very thick rough. Miss the fairway and you compromise your next shot as the ball nestles into the lush turf. The wind can also be a factor at Meadowood.
   Sunday's final round is back at venerable Indian Canyon where afterward the prize money and the Hackmaster trophy are awarded to golf-worn recipients.
   In conclusion, if you've ever listened to Dr. Ruth or Dr. Laura on matters of intimacy and relationships, please consider these pearls of insight.
   "Leave town with friends, play a lot of golf (competition optional) and try Spokane."