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Golfing with the Chinooks

By Nathan DeSutter

Mequon, WI – When Chinooks reliever Peter Bovenzi strolled through the sliding double doors of a Milwaukee Dick’s Sporting Goods, he didn't plan on having a brand new set of golf clubs strapped to his back on the way out. And, he definitely didn't plan on spending over 1,000 dollars on those clubs.  At least, that’s what fellow bullpen mate Cole Gnetz claims. 

Since they arrived in Milwaukee for the summer only a few days before, they planned to just browse. Maybe, they’d buy some new shoes or apparel, but nothing over 50 or 60 dollars. 

That’s when Bovenzi remembered two things: Wisconsin, with it’s over 500 public courses, is a golf heaven, and, if the six foot, four righty wanted to hit the links, the incredibly old set of way too short women’s clubs he inherited from his mom wouldn't cut it. 

“I needed to pick up a set, it’s always a big hit to the bank, but you’ve gotta do it. So, I just wore it,” Bovenzi said. “I’ve already gotten good use out of them.”

So far, he’s played three rounds at the par three course across the street, Missing Links, with Luke Sommerfeld and Brendan McGuigan, and overall, he’s enjoyed it. But, I’m not sure the clubs can say the same. Especially, the club Sommerfeld said had to be Bovenzi’s favorite, his shiny, well-polished Callaway XR pitching wedge. 

“I lost that one today, it broke in half. It was a tough day on the course and it didn't make it home,” he said. “One bad shot and I slammed it on the ground. I just found the nearest trash can and left it where it was.”

It’s safe to say Bovenzi won’t be qualifying for this week’s US Open at Erin Hills, a course just 35 miles northwest of downtown Milwaukee and a quick 26-mile drive from home plate at Kapco Park in Mequon. But, there’s always next year.

However, in honor of the US Open being so close, and the famous US Open Championship Trophy, a relic that dates back to 1895 and commemorates the second-oldest golf major, having been present for photo opportunities at Kapco Park on Sunday,  I decided to ask the whole Chinook pitching staff some questions about their favorite golfer, overall golf game and who they think the best golfer on the team is. 

I didn't dare ask the offense because if field manager Eddy Morgan got wind of his hitters attempting to perfect something other than a baseball swing, the next day might involve a few sprints. 

Here are the results: 

Surprisingly, Tiger Woods, even though this generation grew up with him as a dominant force, wasn't a popular choice. Some cited Tiger’s recent DUI as reasoning, but given John Daly was the consensus favorite, that theory fails to gain traction.

Most of the team believes one of Missing Links threesome takes top reigns on the team, with a majority saying, McGuigan. However, McGuigan was a bit too humble to boast despite his recent successes. 

As for the three players that picked themselves, Oetting believes he’s best because he, as a lefty, has the ability to hit right-handed clubs backwards and still have success. On the other hand, Spears says he’s actually really bad at golf but couldn't resist boasting for a good joke. The irony in that is pitching coach Mike Frank just finished telling me Spears' ability to stay humble on the mound and resist the temptation to use brawn over brains in his greatest asset. Apparently, it doesn't extend to the links. As for Havecost, he truly believes he’s the best on the team and is willing to challenge McGuigan or anyone else. 

It feels like this will all result in a showdown someday, but for right now, the pitching staff will try to avoid the bunkers and hazards and attempt to focus on shutting down the opposition. 

Currently, the Chinooks starting staff has been excellent. All five starters have an ERA below 4.08 and three have an ERA below 2.80. However, the bullpen has allowed 34 runs in their last 9 games, and ERA of 9.66

Wheeling the cart back around to the golf analogy, the drivers and irons are hitting their stride, but the short game has been a bit rusty. Though, in the past two days, the pen has put up game saving performances that culminated in 12.2 innings of three run baseball, an ERA of 2.12. Last night especially, a combination of Havecost, Henieman and Oetting threw 8.1 innings after starter Aaron Patton left after recording just two outs. 

Eventually, it will all have to come together if the Chinooks want to improve on their 6-8 record and 1-5 slump at Kapco Park to start the 2017 season.