The finishing hole was a dogleg left, a 370-yard par four. "The interesting thing about this hole is how many ways you can play it," Rogers said. "Long hitters could try to hit the green. Or you could be conservative, or try to play it in between. Distance isn't the object here; it's more strategy and direction. But you have to hit your first one in play." Rogers hit the green in regulation.
Hitting from the front tees, I still took forever to get close to the green, then ended up just inside the worst bunker I'd ever seen. Built into the hill that supported the green, the bunker's far face was taller than I am. Seeing my distress, Rogers stepped in front of my ball, turned his back to the green and, holding the head of his sand wedge almost parallel to the ground, swung hard. The ball sailed over his shoulder and landed two feet from the hole. "When in doubt," he concluded, "hit the ball backwards."
There Are 100,000 Reasons To Stop Every Two minutes along Oregon's glorious coast—elegant lighthouses, great tide pools, migrating whales, fresh Dungeness crab cocktails, that view. But I powered straight south, turned left at the town of Florence and made Eugene just in time to grab a late lunch with George Recker, one of my favorite McKenzie River fishing guides.
An excellent oarsman and angler, George also happens to be principal trumpet for the Eugene Symphony. He gave up the same position with the Kennedy Center Orchestra in D.C. in order to move to Oregon, where he could both play and fish—which explains why he's been known to blast out the "William Tell Overture" when a hooked trout takes off downstream.
My eleven-year-old nephew, Jesse, accompanied us that evening. Luckily George has a beautiful, new seventeen-foot wooden Tatman McKenzie River Driftboat with a jump seat at the stern so that Jesse and I could fish from opposite ends. A McKenzie driftboat is an angling icon of international renown. Nobody knows who actually invented it, but George's Tatman is considered the best.
"You're fishing a Madam X," George told Jesse as he tied on an odd fly with four long rubber legs. "It's a traditional McKenzie fly. He'll have a fish in seconds."
"I got one!" Jesse sang.
"First cast—that's pretty good," George said. It was 5 p.m. A little midge hatch was already on. At 5:02 Jesse hooked another trout. "That's a Madam X for you," George said.