Twenty years on, Golden Tee still an ace

Golden Tee 2009. Pac-who?
Incredible Gaming

I remember my first hole-in-one like it was yesterday, or ore accurately last night. It was about nine years ago. I pulled out a 7-iron on a 160-yard par-3 and shaped the shot with a slight draw, working with about a 5 mph wind running right-to-left. I knew I had the distance, but the wind – it was pushing the ball left, and if it didn’t hole out, I’d probably slide into the green-side bunker. And with my crappy sand game – I’m about as comfortable on the beach as Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws -- we’re looking at a bogey.

But one bounce, and she’s drained. The crowd at PT’s Pub on Rainbow and Alta went nuts. Free tequila shots for everyone, to celebrate a rare ace on Golden Tee – in this case, Golden Tee 1999.

So it is that we wish the wildly popular links game a happy 20th birthday. Incredible Technologies is holding an anniversary tournament beginning today at 3 p.m. at the Las Vegas Hilton. About 400 “rabid” (says the news release) Golden Tee practitioners will descend on the Hilton today and tomorrow to compete for a $100,000 grand prize. The finals are set for tomorrow afternoon, and the tournament is open to the public. The event will also serve as the launch party for Golden Tee 2009, which will be updated so players will be able to upload their highlight shots (such as an ace with a 7-iron on Canyon Ranch Golf Club) onto YouTube for international distribution.

The game (which game officials say has sold more units than PacMan) is remarkably lifelike, requiring nearly as much physical and mental exertion as real golf. After playing 18 holes, it is not uncommon for more serious players to mop their brows with moistened towels. Some even have endorsement deals for such products as Dr. Scholl’s FreezAway, the tour’s prefered callous-removal medication for top Golden Tee players.

I kid.

There are differences. No ball washers in Golden Tee. You don’t pitch your friend out of the cart while making a hard right-hand turn on a sloped fairway. You don’t misplace your Titleist. But you do hook some drives into the trees, find your Top Flight submerged in sand, and when you catch that ace, it’s a moment that throws a charge into the gallery. I mean, bar.

The public is welcome starting on Friday at 3 p.m. and all day on Saturday.

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