The first Stick & Hack Challenge is over.

As far as I know, no one was hurt.

This is the first goal of every tournament of this sort. When you have players of every stripe roaring into town – in this case, the tiny settlement of French Lick, Indiana – and playing on two tough courses, there always is the chance that somebody will misstep, tumble into a chasm dreamed up by the warped mind of Pete Dye and never be seen again.

This event was conceived by another unusual mind – that of Stick & Hack founder and czar Adam Grubb, who decided that the vast membership of the World’s Greatest Golf Club Without the Course should gather, share a drink, and chow, and, not surprisingly, play golf.

So the call went out across the huge digital landscape, invitations being issued to every Stick & Hack member with clubs and the hunger to play some competitive golf with major prizes waiting at the end. Of course, we responded, from every corner of the continental United States and even Canada, where I was surprised to find out they don’t play golf with hockey sticks.

Czar Grubb promised good times and good golf, and those were delivered. What he didn’t mention was that we would be playing the two hardest golf courses on the North American continent, both weirdly located within a few miles of each other and on either side of French Lick (and, yes, for those of you who are sports-alert, French Lick indeed is the hometown of Larry Bird, who dribbled basketballs out of there to fame and fortune in the National Basketball Association, deciding that playing basketball against Magic Johnson would be easier than golf). 

These two Stick & Hack courses were designed by two of the world’s greatest golf architects – Donald Ross and Pete Dye. All of the other possible names already were taken, so they were named the Donald Ross Course at French Lick and the Pete Dye Course at French Lick. 

They are of different generations, but, surprisingly, Mr. Ross and Mr. Dye decided to use the same kind of grass in the first cut of these two courses. It is some sort of devilgrass, possibly developed by minions of Vladimir Putin.

If you land a ball in it (and, trust me, you will) and it burrows its way deep into the grass (and, trust me, it will), you will need either a bulldozer or a well-struck 7 iron to loosen the grip of the devilgrass. I have neither (although my cousin Harold has a bulldozer; that’s another story).

Czar Grubb also failed to mention in the run-up to this event that several golfers who apparently barely missed qualifying for the PGA Tour would be in the field. To my chagrin, all three of them wound up in my foursome.

I watched in admiration from tee box after tee box as their drives sailed off into the stratosphere, generally leaving wedge shots into the greens. Being the only high-handicapper in the foursome, I tried to represent my brethren (and sistren) who also reside in high-handicap land, but my results were both sad and costly (new golf balls needed).

Of course, everybody who knows me knows I am, in the final analysis, a winner, and that fact was proven again when I won not one but two golf bags in the raffle that was part of the weekend event. I was allowed to claim only one of the two bags because of some ludicrous tournament rule about only one prize per customer, but that’s OK. 

Even on my best days – and I’m looking forward to those, I can use only one golf bag at a time.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.