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Funny Meeting You Here

punta mita

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Seventy-five miles south of TGJ HQ lay the dividing line between the United States and Mexico. Work inland, then follow the Gulf of California for another 1,300 miles towards Guadalajara. Eventually you’ll arrive at Punta Mita in the Mexican state of Nayarit — a picturesque getaway that extends far beyond the eye, and even further beyond the imagination.

A few miles up the road, Floridian Matt Engfer just happened to find himself in Nayarit with his wife Kelly. They had arrived with weekend plans to do nothing and everything at once in the bustling surf city of Sayulita (more on that later). That is, until they heard that The Golfer’s Journal was in town. 

Like any decent golf degenerate, Engfer had his clubs on standby. So just a few hours after learning of TGJ and our nearby festivities, he found The Broken Tee Society and met up with us for one of Punta Mita’s famous breakfast burritos before Saturday’s game. 27-ish golf holes and a few hours later, the Engfer’s raised a glass to toast their table full of new friends. 

The crash of the waves behind us drowned away any cheers, but the memory remains as loud as ever. 

Alphas and Betas

A lot like Matt Engfer, Dominic Hersman didn’t know what to expect at his first Golfer’s Journal event. Desperately needing to get a club in his hands, he had convinced his wife to get out of NYC’s dormant Williamsburg district and join him for a…golf event in Mexico?

“It’s not like other golf tournaments,” he told her. She’d just have to trust him. 

After a full day of travel, we first met Dom at sunset on the tee of Punta Mita’s Pacifico Course hole 3B; more commonly known as “The Tail of the Whale.” Around the globe, 3B is known as the world’s only true island green available for play. But if 2019 has anything to say about it, it’s a place where TGJ legends are born. 

More than a year had passed since 40-plus Members took aim at the Whale in hopes of claiming a Scotty Cameron putter of their choice. After four knockout rounds, only Sean Reed of Dallas, Texas and Abraham Nemi of Mexico City remained. Reed—who just a month prior had won The Broken Tee 2-Man by sticking a wedge to 10 feet from the roof of Trinity Forest’s clubhouse— set the pace with a noble effort. But when Nemi finagled a hybrid to 20 feet, Reed’s all-time record in TGJ playoffs fell to 1-1. The Scotty would stay in Mexico. Luckily there was unlimited tequila nearby to ease the pain of 2nd place. 

Fast forward to The Meetup Pt. II and Hersman had a much cleaner path to victory. With fellow competitor Gregg Heil somewhere in the Pacific, the only thing between Dom and his new Del Mar was, well, an ocean. Nowhere else in the world does 185 yards look so far away, especially with an endless loop of  sea spray hurting off the right. 

Deep breath. Waggle. One look. Go. 

“It’s leaking right. Hit it wind. Take it wind. Gotta go. Get up. Go! Yes!”

Pandemonium. Not like other golf tournaments, indeed. 

Salyutations 

The Aztecs called it “The Land of Mosquitoes.” Reality television-bingers would recognize it as the site of unconvincing trysts from “Bachelor in Paradise”. But the people of Nayarit—people like Angel— just call Sayulita home. 

Leave the pearly gates of Punta Mita Resort and turn left. After a winding 30 minute drive, this sleepy surf town isn’t just alive and well— it’s the life of the party, 

There’s a horse in the street, wild pitbulls in the bars, children hawking fresh roses and a man in the street spinning fire nunchucks. It’s that last bit that leaves me slack jawed on our last night in Nayarit. Once the smoke clears and the crowd disperses, I can’t help but make his acquaintance. 

He tells me his name is Angel. I quickly learn he’s originally from Cancun, but performs the same flamethrowing routine seven nights a week, from here to Jalisco. He says he’s 21, but his child-like blue eyes behind a weathered face are sending mixed signals. Despite it all, I can’t stop staring at his skin.

Surely anybody that devotes their life to playing with fire is bound to get burned, right? Not Angel. He looks straight out of a Nivea ad, and so I ask him point blank: “Where are your scars?”

He looks puzzled, surveying his bare chest and chiseled arms before looking up with a devilish smile. “The fire loves me.” 

And with that, he vanishes. 

An angel spotting in Salyulita. Photo by Casey Bannon

Accumulated Luggage

Nobody ever leaves a TGJ Event empty-handed. Lucky ones will leave with their hands full. 

Matt Enger had just arrived when we gathered all attendees before Saturday’s final round. Following two days of free play and side-action (lots of side-action), guests were informed they’d be competing in a blind-draw 2-man best ball on Punta Mita’s Bahia course. The stakes? The only two TGJ x Punta Mita putter cups in existence.

Later that night, with catch-of-the-day on the table and sand under our feet, Dylan Hendricks and Austin Allen sprang from their seats in celebration to claim their title. The waves crashed behind us, but failed to drown away any cheers. Instead, they carried them down the coastline to whomever we’ll meet up with next.