Lester George would have looked like any other member of the gallery—jockeying for a view of the three-way playoff, laughing along with the wry commentary booming from the TGJ Van—had he not been sporting his American Society of Golf Course Architects dinner jacket. The competing teams would have done well to seek him out: George designed Ballyhack Golf Club, and not many know the sprawling 18,000-square-foot 18th green better.
Even without the advice of George, Joel Morgan did well to lag his putt to the hole and tap it in. He and teammate Tom Coyne needed two putts for the victory, and it appeared that their names would be soon engraved on the Broken Tee 2-Man trophy. Or so he thought.
This was an alternate-shot playoff, and that wasn’t Morgan’s putt to tap in. Golf in its purest form means honoring the code, even when it’s inconvenient. So after two days of golf, the champions dinner would have to wait.
Four holes and more than an hour later, Morgan and Coyne exhaled. They were officially Net Champions. And, as we closed the third year of the Broken Tee 2-Man, they authored another wild chapter in the growing lore of TGJ’s signature event.
The ball didn’t lie that evening, and neither did George when he said Ballyhack was just plain hard. Two days of golf on the stomach-churning hills of this 200-acre playground had left the Subscribers who made the trip to Roanoke spent but satisfied.
As the awards ceremony commenced around the TGJ Van, storylines of the week trickled in: KC Steed taking home long drive of the week despite receiving four injections in a bad neck just a few days prior; Coyne making an ace on the course’s par-3 track—the fifth in TGJ event history; the father-son duo of Steve Crifasi Sr. and Jr. coming up a shot short in the playoff; and Nathan Pusey coming up a revolution short of a 2-net-1 on the driveable par-4 eighth hole.
Once inside for dinner, the golf course remained the soup du jour. “It made you think on every shot,” one Subscriber marveled in-between bites of seared ahi tuna. “It’s like if Tobacco Road shaved,” said another. “The second time was even better.” “Tough but fair.” “Dude, what the f***.”
One by one, the glowing reviews echoed off the towering beams inside Ballyhack’s dining cabin. And they continued until George himself stood up to explain exactly how a night like this was made possible.
How he had signed up to serve in Vietnam but was never called upon. How his artillery training during that time led to a sharp eye for topography. The twists and turns of how he tried, failed, and ultimately succeeded in purchasing his dream course site at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And how he sketched 20 different golf courses before he decided on the one we just played.
Ice cream sundaes be damned, the architect regaling us with untold tales from the building of Ballyhack was all the dessert we needed. The stories continued deep into the night; first at the bar, then around an illuminated 18th green, then finally at the fire pits in front of the cabins just a wedge away.
As everyone gathered for breakfast the following morning, Subscribers were still shaking their heads over the trip George had taken them on. But as a group of new friends sat at a table looking over the practice green, thoughts turned to the 2021 2-Man.
“See you at the next one?”
- Jeffrey Ober & John Marshall (above left)
- Zach Hamilton & Matt Cooper
- Craig Martin & Ben Evans
- Joel Morgan & Tom Coyne
- David Vang & David Gentry
- Steve Crifasi & Steve Crifasi Jr.