Doc'sJournal of Medicine

NATCA C90 Fall Classic

Mike "Doc" Egan

IT was a beautiful day for golf. Temper-ature was 74. The wind was out of the South at 4 mph. On top of all this, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. In a word, it was perfect.

So on this beautiful day there did assemble 250 golfers at Pebble Beach Country Club for what was to become a classic shoot-out between the FAA's best. The tournament had all the drama and twists of fate of a well written spy thriller. The day started off when Big Bob Frink teed it up on the first hole and unleashed a hellacious swing worthy of Babe Ruth fame and laced it out 320 yards down the pipe. Certainly impressed but not intimidated, up to the tee went Frinks' partner Bob "the Marauder" Mischke. Not known for his hand to eye coordination, the Marauder himself took a ferocious swing and drove the ball an awe-inspiring 42 inches much to the delight of the uncontrollably laughing gallery.

So the second annual NATCA Local C90 Fall Classic was underway. Foursome after foursome took to the first box and hacked away with more swings than Jeffery Dahmer. Each player eyeing the first place trophy, prize money, fame and accolades that go along with such a prestigious outing. The outcome wouldn't be known for five and a half hours.

Steve "wanna bet?" Johnson eyeballs a par attempt from seven come eleven feet away.

Started in 1994 as the brain child of "Ramblin" Ray Gibbons and Steve "Tracon" Johnson, the Fall Classic is open to golfers of all abilities. From Jeff "lights out" McCoy to Joe "swing early and often" Cerami types. The most important element of the outing, however, is that all participants have an enjoyable time. And why wouldn't they? Several airlines that utilize ATC services graciously donated wonderful prizes.

This years classic was no different. Again several airlines as well as other private companies donated to the cause and the prize list thus guaranteeing that once again Local C90 would produce a smashing success. Known for the dinner and the awards ceremony that follow the tournament, even non-golfers show up to commiserate, celebrate and congratulate the eventual winner. But like any great event, before there is celebration, you need to identify the victor.

Roger "Grab-my eel" Graybeal on 16

Throughout the day the leader board changed so many times that the IBM 9020 computer that drives it finally failed for good leaving security to use large pieces of paper to keep the gallery informed. Some names were familiar, their scores improbable. Steve "fix my ASDE" Davis from Milwaukee, WI held the lead for two holes before finally melting away like a block of cheese in a blast furnace. Terry "Jayhawks" Hall led going into the seventeenth hole until he 4-putted away the lead. And so it went throughout the day, leader after leader falling away when the pressure became the most intense.

Joe "swing early and often" Cerami missing one of his 83 putts for the day.

Jim Brabec thinks he sees a birdie.

Terry "Jayhawks" Hall with

the patented Michael Jordan

Tongue on the 18th hole.

Tony "Chia Pet" Seijka Showing great form and his golfing proweess.

What more can be said? It's horse head.

V.P. Don Porter chipping away to 6th place.

As the sun dipped closer to the horizon in a collage of blue, orange and reddish hues, it was obvious that this match would not be decided until the final foursome was in. Pacing anxiously in the club house leading with a four-under 68, Jack Mehoff could see the final fearsome foursome approach the par five 666 yard 18th hole. Federico Pena, David Hinson and Dick Wacker were deadlocked with a five-under 67, the final player, Joe Natca was still in it with a four-under 68.

Big Bob Frink shows Joe Rougeau the size of the dent in his van.

All four players hit splendid tee shots setting up the much anticipated strategy and nerves-of-steel shot making required to win it all. The secretary was first. He swung at his second shot like a man possessed, sending a divot the size of a raccoon pelt soaring towards the sunset sky. Unfortunately for Pena, his ball dribbled into a fairway bunker the size of Manhattan. He never recovered, finding himself with more problems than the new Denver airport. Wacker, Hinson and Natca hit beautiful second shots setting up the all important approach shots.

Hinson scuffed his shot and left the ball on the fringe approximately sixty feet from the cup. Wacker was a bit timid but made the green some 18 feet from the hole. Natca was a bit too aggressive and slid the ball well past the hole and finally coming to rest 40 feet away. At this point, Pena was seen walking towards the club house to watch the remainder of the match with Jack Mehoff.

Hinson's fourth shot stopped eight inches from the cup almost assuring him the victory. All he needed to do was par. If he could sink this putt the way he did the original Midway Airlines, he would be the champ. It never happened. Like most stressful situations, he succumbed to the pressure. Not only did he miss that eight inch putt, he also missed the 26 footer from the other side and then again with a three footer. Hinson finally put it in the hole on his fourth attempt to end up with a three-over 75. At this point obviously discounting Natcas' skill, abilities and determination, Hinson was heard to exclaim: "Well it looks like Jack Mehoff or Dick Wacker!"

Alas, the admiral was wrong again. Wacker four putted himself out of contention. All eyes turned to Joe Natca. A relative newcomer but certainly no stranger to pressure, Natca walked up, eyed the terrain and deftly struck the ball! As the ball rolled towards the hole, it moved left, then it moved right and then it went straight again. When the ball got to the hole, it took a couple of laps around the edge as if to see who was watching and then paused momentarily at the lip before plunging into the cup sealing Natcas' victory and his rightful place in history!

Back in the club house the prizes were awarded. Hit your own car Competition: Big Bob Frink. Slobber, Sway, Slur and Ramble more than Harry Carey in the Ninth Inning of a Cubs Game: Randy Ezell. And the list goes on. The BIG PRIZE, however, went to Joe Natca. The crowd went wild as the administrator himself went up to Natca, embraced him and told him, "wait until next year."

Wait until next year indeed!

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Fraternally yours,
Mike "Doc" Egan

Editor's Note: This article captures the spirit-de-corps and camaraderie of the NATCA Local C90 Fall Classic perfectly. There is really only one minor problem with this article. The author wasn't AT the NATCA Local C90 Fall Classic, did no research, conducted no interviews and pretty much made the whole thing up. Oh, well. Don't miss this year's event. Like our illustrious Doctor, years from now you'll swear you were there.

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