Player's Journal: Jeff Fortson at the U.S. Four-Ball, Part 4
Jeff Fortson is journaling his week at Jupiter Hills (USGA photo)
Jeff Fortson is journaling his week at Jupiter Hills (USGA photo)

Editor's note: As a special to AmateurGolf.com, Jeff Fortson of Palm Desert, CA has decided to journal his experience playing in the U.S. Four-Ball Championship. This is his fourth entry.

Golf is hard.

Unfortunately, Mike and I did not make match play. We made too many mistakes. There were a few points over the 36 holes where my swing completely abandoned me. When that happens on a USGA championship set up golf course, you will get exposed. There were moments of brilliance and shot making, but not enough to overcome the poor play.

I just erased multiple paragraphs describing in detail how we played and decided it was probably best to spare anyone from reading about it. It is ridiculous to expect to play at a high level when you get so few tournament rounds and practice in. I’m pretty sure Mike would have something similar to say about his play too. Just imagine having a couple of holes where you are worried you may never finish them because your game has vanished. That is what it felt like. There are no excuses, we simply were not sharp enough to get it done this week.

Editor's note: The author and his partner shot 72-72 (+4), six strokes shy of the 138 needed to make the final 32 for match play.

Scorecard for Jeff Fortson and Michael Walton
The scorecard: too much orange, not enough blue (USGA Screenshot)

We played the 36-holes of stroke play with Scott Harvey and Todd Mitchell. Mike and I were very impressed by the quality of golfers they are. It became obvious as to why they are both in the upper-most tier of amateur golf. They shot 62-70 to finish T-4th in stroke play and I think they are going to be a tough team to play against in match play. They both have great golf swings and each hit some incredible shots, which included a hole-in-one by Scott on the 17th of the Village Course. Even more impressive were the quality of guys they were. They were very nice to us and comfortable to play with. I feel bad they had to watch me struggle half the time. I will definitely be pulling for them to play well in match play.

Related: Harvey, Mitchell lead after U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Round One

Overall, the experience was wonderful and will still go down as one the best golf weeks of my life. There is nothing like competing with a close friend at a high level. It is so much fun, even when you are playing poorly. My caddie, Dan Alvarez, was so great and did a wonderful job keeping me dry, sane, and comfortable. I can’t thank him enough. The Jupiter Hills Club went all out in making us feel at home. It was such a treat being their guest this week. They deserve a lot of appreciation for the effort and job their staff did for the players.

The biggest thank you belongs to our hosts, Tom and Kelly Jansen, and their daughter Sydney. They took us to all the best spots to eat, entertained us, and made us feel like a part of their family. Their daughter Sydney even entertained us with her singing and musical talents. I hope to someday repay the kindness and generosity they showed us. I cannot thank them enough.

Like I said in my opening post, if you have never played in a USGA championship, keep trying. It is worth the effort. They are the experiences you will never forget. You will make friends and memories that stay with you forever. I look forward to the next one I qualify for. Mike and I hope to qualify for next year’s USGA Amateur Four-Ball at Bandon Dunes. I am guessing that Bandon Dunes will be another all-world venue for this event.

If I make it out to some of the match play before I leave I will report back. If not, thank you for making it through these posts if you have. I hope they have shed a little light on what it is like to play in a USGA championship. Good luck to everyone that made match play and to all of you in the future that attempt to qualify for a national championship.

Previous Journal Entries:

Part 3: registration, a practice round with bombers, meeting Tom Fazio, balcony shots, and an Uber driving comedian

Part 2: A travel nightmare, meeting the hosts, and hope despite a threatening weather forecast

Part 1: the upcoming U.S. Four-Ball, the difficulty of qualifying, and what it's like to play in a USGA event

ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, the newest USGA championship, was played for the first time in 2015 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif. The event, which has no age restriction, is open to those with a Handicap Index of 5.4 or lower. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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