McGimpsey admitted that his Pine Valley education remained a work in progress. But in the months after the tournament, he'd clearly been contemplating some of the questions posed by the course, especially that of the approach to the second green's unforgiving plateau. With his tee shot finding the nest of fairway bunkers on the right, he'd laid up to the base of the hill.
"I hit a hard gap wedge and thought, 'Right, that's all over the flag.' But walking up the hill I see the ball coming back into a bunker. Completely wrong way to play the hole." He resolved that the demands of the steeply pitched green required a seven-iron approach—a wedge would simply spin too much. A variant of the Nicklaus discipline—playing away from the target—was sinking in: "If I'm in that fairway bunker again, I'm not going to chip it up the fairway, I'm going to come out sideways."
The relationship between the penal and the strategic at Pine Valley is fully revealed in the difference between match and stroke play, which players agree is night and day. The Crump Cup contains both formats, and in order to fire at flags in match play, one must first endure an epic and often perilous grind. That was the case for Kuehne in last year's stroke-play opener, during which he played four left-handed shots from the wilderness en route to an eighty-five.
"Trip's a fabulous player," observed McGimpsey. "He should never have been in the third flight."
But that's the way it goes at Pine Valley. And although Kuehne will surely be back to contend for the Cup this year (his final-round seventy-four won the third flight; the 2006 champion was another big-time amateur, Carlton Forrester of Birmingham, Alabama), it should be noted that the flaming train wreck of a round is an esteemed facet of club lore and always has been. As Henry Longhurst wrote back in 1936: "There's a tradition at the club—I know of no parallel—that the cup of misfortune must be drained to the dregs, and no man shall pick up his ball midway to save the ultimate ignominy of revealing his score."
Maybe it's wise that the stroke-play segment of the Crump Cup is closed to the public. But for those who would find pleasure in watching crisp shots take flight over Hell's Half Acre—the infamous, expansive waste area on the seventh—the format hardly matters. On that one charmed afternoon, we're just happy to be there.
The final round of the 2007 Crump Cup is scheduled for September 16; buses from Clementon Amusement Park will begin running at 1 p.m. Parking is ten dollars, and admission is free. Do not call the club, as no additional information is available.