Before teeing off in the final round of Waubeeka Golf Links men's club championship last weekend, Chris Baran looked like he was on his way to an easy victory. But is anything really easy with this game if your name isn't Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson?
Turning back the clock to his teen years, the 44-year-old suddenly couldn't do anything right.
"I shot a 45 on the front nine," Baran said. "That was the highest since high school. I couldn't believe it. I was missing greens and hitting bad chips. I didn't know what was happening."
Things didn't get any better on the treacherous par-3 10th where he made another bogey.
It isn't often that slow play can benefit a golfer, but in this case it did.
"We had a 10-minute wait on the 11th tee and it gave me a chance to calm down," Baran said.
Presto chango. Suddenly, his game returned and he played the final eight holes in 1-under, but still needed a birdie on the short, par-4 18th hole to hold off Geoff Tatro and win his second club championship.
"The tees were up, so the hole was only playing at 325 yards," Baran said. "He laid up short of the fairway bunker off the tee so I decided to hit my driver and managed to hit it to within a few yards of the green."
Tatro made his par, but Baran got up and down from the fringe for his birdie and the win despite an uncharacteristic final-round 80. He had opened with a 77 windy day and followed that with a 2-under 70 to build up the big lead he eventually needed to prevail.
Baran won his previous club championship in a playoff in 2006 (he has seven runner-up finishes) after taking 10 club titles at North Adams Country Club.
Given the recent announcement by club owner Jim Goff that Waubeeka will close and could possibly be sold for a purpose other that golf, it's possible that Baran just won the last men's club championship. He isn't looking at it that way.
"I plan to be back here to defend my title next year," he said. "A lot of people are talking about the course, worrying about where they might play next year, but I have been telling them to stop panicking and calm down. I believe it will still be a golf course, especially with Jim having dropped the price."
The women's club championship lacked the drama of the men's event with Angie Linger finishing at 248 for a 39-shot victory over runner-up Kay Goldstein. Robert Delphia took the senior championship with a 281 total.