Retro Sci-Fi Sphere Tanks – from a Callaway Golf Ball!

I am happy to begin the 2017 blogging season with a very complicated project.  While I began work on this project in December, I had been thinking about it since last May.

So what happened in May 2016?  I was traveling for work, and sat down in a Cracker Barrel in Connecticut for breakfast (Uncle Herschel’s with a sweet tea of course).  For those of you who have never been to a Cracker Barrel, there are always old photos and curios all over the walls.  I looked to my left, and saw this on the wall:

1-popular-science-cover-july-1936-by-edgar-franklin
What started this journey

I was amazed at this and wanted to dig in more and learn the date of this issue of Popular Science magazine and see what the article said.  The article was just a paragraph with another picture – here is the link and a shot of the July 1936 article on page 37.

1a-popular-science-article-july-1936
The page 37 article

The concept of the “tumbleweed tank” tank was one of two outer shell halves rotating independently on rollers over a solid stationary sphere.  More or less, the outer halves acted as the vehicle’s treads.  I do not believe that anyone ever tried to build this as a combat vehicle, but I still found the concept fascinating and worthy of a project.

During the intervening months, I conceived of an idea that I could make a model of the tank, build a mold,  and cast it for tabletop wargaming.  As I have been building units of Star Rovers figures for sci-fi Combat Patrol™, my first thought was to make a retro-sci-fi tank, probably for the Frinx.  I was not enthusiastic about the weapons design as shown in the magazine – machine guns alone would make this a very boring retro sci-fi tank.  I also considered making it modular – so that I could adapt different weapons for it.

While thinking about it, I wanted to have a great sphere – and my sculpting experience is at best weak to nonexistent.  I have seen a few blogs that I follow where folks are sculpting their own figures, and that helped to inspire me.  As I also cast – this was a chance to go from beginning to end with the project.  But what to use?

The answer came easily to me as a golfer – a golf ball!  That would be an easy thing to work with and would afford me a chance to see what works.  I had an idea that I wanted it to be armed with ray guns in the side sponsons.  I had not decided on the main weapon, when I had a brainstorm – 1953’s War of the Worlds Martian Heat Rays!

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1953 movie poster
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The Martian ship

So with this plan, I went forward to try to create my new Mark 1’s (what else to call them!).  I thought that I could learn from the project (and I have).  I used a “Line ’em Up” golf accessory to create lines on a used Callaway golf ball, and drilled a ½” hole in the side of the ball on two sides.  I like the Callaway for this as it has hexagonal dimples.

 

 

5-first-cut-on-ball
First drill hole into the Callaway

 

After this, I used a Plastruct 2mm x 4.8mm styrene strip to size up the gap between the ball halves.  I used my Dremel to cut the outer surface of the ball – it ended up being messy and needed a lot of Exacto knife work.  The Dremel cutting blade tends to melt the outer ball cover – another lesson learned

 

6-ball-ring
After cutting the chassis ridge with my Dremel

 

I then needed to create the tread ridges.  I used an Exacto knife to carve small channels along the lines for the treads.  This took a lot of cutting!  Using some old plastic membership cards, I cut out each tread, sized them to the holes, and glued them in with super glue.

 

7-ball-ring-treads
Tread ridges cut from plastic membership cards

 

I then drilled a ¼” hole for the attachment of a main weapon –  which I would cast separately with the sponsons in a single mold.  To build a base for the model, I used three 1¼” washers, and glued them together with wood glue.  I then covered them with Apoxie Sculpt, leaving a hole to mount the ball to the base with a wood screw through the washer.  This ended up being a base that I feel in the end was a little too tall, but usable, and castable.

 

8-ball-ring-treads-installed
A Callaway golf ball converted into the tank chassis 

 

I originally was going to use Milliput or Apoxie Sculpt for the sponsons – when I discovered these ½” Button Plugs from Lara’s Crafts – which were the right shape and fit perfectly into the holes on the sides (got lucky here).  I bought a set of Niji woodcarving knives (which I wish I had when I was carving the treads and the middle gap!) and used them to make the sponson shells.  After trial and error (where I learned the hard way that I needed to wear a cutting glove with these very sharp knives), I carved two sponsons and sanded down the middle slots.

 

10-sponson-start
Making the button plugs into sponsons

 

I initially thought that I needed to smooth out the golf ball dimples and the tread cuts, so I first tried with Apoxie Sculpt, with poor results.  My next attempt was with Citadel “Liquid Green Stuff”, which was better, but I think was an unneeded step.

 

11-sponson-fitting
The master figure and sponsons mid-project

 

I drilled a 1/8″ hole in the sponson shell, and mounted a short piece of Evergreen Scale Models strip styrene 1/8″ tube.  For the ray guns, I turned to the use of model airplane parts.  I used two Dubro products – a 2mm socket head cap screw with three 2 mm flat washers superglued to it.  To line up the washers evenly, I found that using toothpicks on both sides and underneath to define the gaps and make the washers relatively parallel worked well.   I inserted the guns into the ends of the styrene, after coring out the ends of the styrene rods for a better fit.  Eventually, I primed the sponsons black with Citadel “Imperium Primer”, as I wanted there to be less tackiness to the Quick-Sil from the wood.

 

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Nice view of the ray guns in the sponsons

 

 

13-sponsons-with-ray-gun
Another view of the ray gun sponson

 

I then moved onto the main weapon, the heat ray.  In the 1953 movie, the heat ray was rectangular, leading to the distinctive head.  I eyeballed the length, and designed the head.  I sculpted it in two stages, with the “eye” section being attached to the neck, which itself was on the Plastruct strip styrene.

 

15-main-gun-sketches
Designing the heat ray – this worked!

 

 

17-main-gun-phase-1
Initial heat ray sculpt on styrene strip

 

I cut the styrene strip to size, and used more Apoxie Sculpt to make a mount that would fit into the main weapon recess.  After it hardened, I saw that I would have to bend it in my mold, or otherwise I would have a very turtle-like appearance.  As the styrene is flexible, this was not a problem.  I made two two-piece molds with Castaldo Quick-Sil – one for the chassis and one for the weapons.  I also tried some new innovations with venting with the use of some more model airplane parts – in this case flexible fuel lines that I cut for venting.  As you can see below, I bent the heat ray in the mold to my desired shape.

 

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Weapons mold before Quick-Sil

 

 

20-first-mold-half-weapons-mold-mark-1
After first half molded

 

 

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Chassis mold before Quick-Sil

 

 

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Chassis mold after first half molded

 

In the end, the mold for the weapons worked very well, needing little work on the finished weapons.  However, the chassis mold had a few issues.  First, I knew as a golfer that golf balls compress when struck.  What I did not realize was that there would be a strong interaction of the flattish sponson holes and the pressure exerted by the curing Quick-Sil on them at 90° angles.  As a result, the cast ball would be visibly compressed somewhat.  Additionally, the flow was not perfect – leading to my needing to add Apoxie Sculpt to the finished models’ chassis.  Lastly, because the mold for the chassis was thick, and the casting was large, it took a long time to cool, and used a lot of metal (see phots for weight below in the blog).  Unfortunately I discovered this when I opened the mold once and the metal flowed out!  I will incorporate these lessons learned into the Mark 2’s.

 

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The master and the molds

 

 

23-mark-1-chassis-cast-and-master
Shrinkage!  Was he in the pool? (Apologies to George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld)

I managed to successfully cast two chassis, and decided to use the master as well as I already had the mold.  So I cast three sets of weapons, and assembled three tanks in total.  I used some Apoxie Sculpt to fill in the gaps in the back where flow was less than ideal -and this worked fine.  Next, I mounted the assembled tanks to a 1 5/8″ steel washer for magnetic storage in my gaming boxes.

 

 

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Assembled tanks

I then primed the tanks with  Citadel “Imperium Primer” – I must say I like this as a brush primer – it’s a nice product.

 

 

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Primed tanks

 

After priming, I moved on to painting them.  Painting these proved to be challenging, especially the fully-cast models, due to the weight of the models.  The metal ones weighed about 14 ounces, while the master weighed in at 4 ounces!

I used Citadel “XV-88” on the base and the chassis gaps.  For the chassis and the heat ray, I based with Tamiya “Gun Metal”.  I used several light coats and had a shiny finish to deal with – but a smooth one.  The trick with Tamiya is a wet brush and a lot of shaking and shaking again.  I then used another Tamiya metallic, “Chrome Silver” to paint the sponsons, the tread ridges, and the business end of the heat rays.  I painted the tips pf the ray guns and the “eye” of the heat ray with “XV-88” and Citadel “Gehenna’s Gold” in anticipation of future colors.  The base I gave an application of Americana “Ebony”.

 

27-mark-1-tanks-after-base-coating
After base coat

 

I then used my new Citadel Technical paints.  Remember that the Martian craft had orbs that were glowing green.  To recreate that feel, I applied two coats of Citadel “Waystone Green”  to the sponson tops and bottoms, the tread ridges, the chassis gaps, and the main portion of the heat ray.  I also painted the first and last rings of the ray guns with this technical paint.   I wanted the slot of the sponson to be a bit darker – and Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” helped me to achieve that look.  For the tips of the ray guns and the “eye” of the heat ray, Citadel “Spiritstone Red” gave a nice focal character to the weapons.

 

28-mark-1-tanks-after-base-coating-and-mid-highlighting
After highlights

 

To accent the green, I shaded areas around the “Waystone Green” with Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSSY”.  As I was going to dull down the overall shiny paint job, I thought this would work better – and I think it did.  I drybrushed the bases with Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Gray”, and then applied a light flocking with Army Painter “Ash Grey” on the washer alone.

 

29-mark-1-tanks-before-varnish
Ready for varnish!

 

I was now ready to varnish, and for the first time I used Army Painter’s “Anti-Shine” matte varnish.  This is an aqueous varnish.  I liked it, and am excited as varnishing in New England in the winter is always a logistical challenge.  I uses 2 parts varnish to 1 part water, and applied with a fan brush lightly.  It came out nice and smooth.  After it dried, I sprayed the models with Testors “Dullcoat” is my cellar bulkhead after I got it warm enough.  This enabled venting of the fumes outside after I was done and kept my wife from killing me when she got home!

To finish the models, I needed to deal with the elevated bases.  Using a lot of Army Painter “Wasteland Tuft” applied with white glue, I was able to create an image of the tanks plowing through grass.  They are heavy though, but sturdy.

 

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This is a heavy model!!!  In English and metric units!

 

 

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The master weighs a lot less!

 

Here are some close up photos of the final product.

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Run!

 

 

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Convoy!

 

 

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Nice group shot

 

I am very happy with how these came out.  If I get enough interest, I may offer some for sale as kits.  Certainly, these are my first real creations from conception to creating to molding to casting to painting.  I learned a lot, and I am sure that my next iterations will be better.

They will be an  excellent part of my Frinx forces for Combat Patrol™!

 

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A bad day for these Aphids!!!

 

 

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Lynn’s Got Clubs!

Happy Independence Day!

Lynn and I celebrated with a round of 9 holes at Bay Path Golf Course in East Brookfield, MA today.  We had picked her up a nice starter set of Top-Flite Women’s clubs on Sunday at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Worcester.  We hit the range, and she tried them out.  She also got a “fancy” orange towel, some purple Pinnacles, and a couple of gloves.

Today, after all the other golfers were done, we played her first round with her new clubs.  She did try golf at the couples league on Friday night by borrowing some clubs from Justyne Smith – but this was just her and I.  I am so grateful that she is giving this a tentative “go” so far.

I did want to take a picture there at the course, but I worried she’d get upset.  Golf is not easy on the beginner (or the veteran player for that matter).  She was a GREAT sport, and did her best.  We will be back out sometimes, but I don’t think that 18 holes in in the cards anytime soon for her.  Still, I truly enjoyed spending the time playing with her on her first day with the new clubs.  I love my wife!!!

Here she is afterwards barbecuing some delicious chicken breasts!

07042016 Lynn and her clubs

 

Bay Path Golf Course Opens for 2016

The 2016 Golf Season started (for Bay Path) on Saturday, March 23rd with a round of 18 with Bob Tilton and Jerry Dufresne.  Not my best pic, but selfies are not my thing!

The course is in good shape for March Thanks to the hard work of Jeffrey and Justyne Smith.

Temperatures were cold.  It ranged from 38° F to 43° F, and we were all rusty.  We had a quota match.  Bob and I tied on the front, and Bob won the back and the total on the 18th hole.  Anytime you can walk 18 with an 83 year old, and lose to him, well that’s pretty cool!  We at least got to be the first to play, and I got my first birdie of 2016 on the 10th hole!  I did not play on Sunday as it was Easter, but I did work on miniatures – see my next blog entry!

03262016 opening day
Mark Morin, Bob Tilton, Jerry Dufresne at Bay Path Golf Course Opening Day

12th Annual USO Benefit Golf Tournament at Bay Path Golf Course – Success and Thank you!

The 12th Annual USO Golf Tournament was held at Bay Path Golf Course in East Brookfield, MA on September 5, 2015.  It does not seem possible that our event has now had its 12th go around!  We had 65 golfers spread amongst 17 teams. This was down a bit from last year, but thanks to very generous hole sponsors we are very close to our annual goal to support the USO and the work it does to support our men and women in uniform.

As for the event, the weather could not have been nicer.  Jeffrey and Justyne Smith had the course in great shape and the clubhouse was packed.

With a few late hole sponsorships still pledged to come in (and yes, I can still take them just send me a message – all it takes is a check written to the USO!), we should just be shy of raising $6,000 for the USO!  This brings our total for the time we have had the event to over $46,000!  Thanks to everyone who donated or competed!

I want to give a special thanks to our sponsors.  They were honored with placards on our “Wall of Honor”.  Please click the link below to see the Powerpoint Show for our generous sponsors and how they were represented – there are some great images here not to be missed:

2015 Hole Sponsorships

Please note that we had some late donors who did not make the wall but who should also be acknowledged as well – Ed LaFlamme from Ken’s Citgo in East Brookfield, Ted Boulay from Voya Financial in East Brookfield, and Ron Lacaire from East Brookfield.  Thanks!

As for the event, it was a very competitive event.

Here are the results – the 50/50 on the par-4 2nd hole was a closest to the pin on the second shot over the pond.  This was won by Nick Guerin at 14′!

There were 5 skins – won by Jerry Dufresne, Pit Caron, Kyle Waterman, Jim Hemenway, and Stacie Chandler.

As for our individual winners, we used the Callaway scoring system.  Nick Guerin shot 82 and had a Callaway score of 71 (-1) to win best scoring Male golfer.  Stacie Chandler shot 85 and had a Callaway score of 73 (-1) to win best scoring Woman golfer.  Bob Tilton (age 83 and 2 days) shot 74 and had a Callaway score of 72 (Even) to win best scoring Senior golfer.

Top Individuals - Nick Guerin (Best Man), Stacie Chandler (Best Woman), Bob Tilton (Best Senior)
Top Individuals – Nick Guerin (Best Man), Stacie Chandler (Best Woman), Bob Tilton (Best Senior)

As for the top three teams, as a USMA grad it pains me to say that both Air Force and Navy beat the best Army team (which was my team), but congrats nonetheless!  We also used the Callaway Scoring System for team play.

The 1st place team played for the US Air Force, and comprised Jim Kularski, Lisa Kularski, and Mike Kularski, and had a score of +3.  Congrats to the Kularski’s!

USAF WINNERS - Jim, Lisa, & Mike Kularski
USAF WINNERS – Jim, Lisa, & Mike Kularski

There were three teams at +4, so it went to a couple of tie-breakers.  The second place team played for the US Navy and comprised Michele Holm, Ellen Morse, Stacie Chandler, and Denise Bruso.  Well done ladies!

NAVY TAKES 2nd - Ellen Morse. Denise Bruso, Michele Holm, & Stacie Chandler
NAVY TAKES 2nd – Ellen Morse. Denise Bruso, Michele Holm, & Stacie Chandler

ARMY TAKES 3rd – The 3rd place team was mine, proudly playing for the US Army.  My teammates were Bob Tilton, Russ McGee, and Jerry Dufresne. (I did not get a picture!).  Thanks for playing with me guys – and watching an 83 year old shoot (Bob Tilton) 2 over par is a great spectator event for sure!

Here are the overall team results:

Place Team Team Captain Score
1 USAF Jim Kularski +3
2 US Navy Michele Holm +4
3 US Army Mark Morin +4
4 US Army Jim Hemenway +4
5 USAF Stein Berthiaume +5
6 USAF Jeffrey Smith +7
7 USMC Brian Ingman +7
8 US Navy Ray Lareau +7
9 US Army Ralph Davies +10
10 US Army Paul Sanborn +10
11 USMC Mike Waterman +10
12 USMC Pit Caron +11
13 US Army Sally Fiske +13
14 Army/Navy Jerry Perron +13
15 US Navy Linda Clayton +14
16 US Army Mike Morgan +16
17 USMC Jason Thompson +18

There were some nice side stories as well.  Jim and Janice Howe from Colden, NY sponsored an entire team of US Marines (Jason Thompson, James Dea, Carlin Monroe, and Austin Ahmed) from Springfield, MA.  They had a great time and were very thankful for the sponsorship!  These Marines are buddies of Russ McGee’s son and Bob Tilton’s grandson, Bobby McGee, who was killed tragically by a wrong-way driver on the Massachusetts Turnpike in 2012 as he drove to his USMC reserve weekend drill.  You can see a picture of Bobby on the 2015 Hole Sponsorships link above in this blog.

This event for the USO reunited them and Janice and Jim, you really did a nice thing!  It also was a great reminder of the main reason we do this – support of the troops and the great work the USO does in support of our men and women in uniform, of whom we are so very proud!

USMC Team sponsored by the Jim and Janice Howe
USMC Team sponsored by the Jim and Janice Howe

Just a few fun shots to add:

Mark & Lynn
Myself & Lynn Supporting the USO!
Lynn Morin & Debbie Rice working on the 8th Hole
Lynn Morin & Debbie Rice working on the 8th Hole
A Great Raffle
A Great Raffle

LAST BUT NOT LEAST!  Special thanks go out to the committee for all their help.  An event like this is a lot of work!  Without these folks and their dedicated help this event could not happen:  Jeffrey and Justyne Smith for all the support from Bay Path; my lovely wife Lynn for her baskets, her help signing folks in, her work at the 8th Hole Contest, her well-received desserts, and overall help, love, and support; Jerry Dufresne for his help with the door prize raffle and the set up; Ray Lareau, Sr. for his help with the 50/50 and the scoring; Bob Tilton for his help with the Skins and the set up; Jim Hemenway for his help with the set up and the scoring; JP LeBoeuf for his help with the sign in, the scoring, and getting sponsorship; Debbie Rice for her help with the raffle and the 8th Hole contest; and Lisa Kularski for her help with the scoring.  Of course, thanks to all the golfers who supported this event!  Let’s keep this going next year!

Last, let me end this post with the motto of the USO:

“Until Everyone Comes Home”

God Bless you all and God Bless America!

12th Annual USO Benefit Golf Tournament, September 5, 2015

If anyone wishes to support this benefit tournament, here is our support letter – thanks in advance for the consideration!

12th Annual USO Benefit Golf Tournament

Saturday, September 5th, 2015 at Bay Path Golf Course

193 North Brookfield Road, East Brookfield, MA 01515

(508) 867-8161 (Bay Path Golf Course) or (508) 867-9634 (Mark Morin) MarkAMorin@aol.com

Dear Friend and Fellow American,

The USO supports our brave military with many morale support activities. We are looking forward to support the efforts of the USO and our troops our 12th annual benefit golf tournament.

We need your help and support to be successful!

The USO is a non-governmental organization dedicated to volunteer support of our troops and their families. The USO is private & relies totally on outside support like this event.

The 12th Annual USO Benefit Golf Tournament will be held on Saturday, September 5th.   The format will be a 4-person Callaway. Registration will be at 7:30 AM and we will have a shotgun start at 8:00 AM.

You can help in any or all of these three ways:

  • Sign up as a team or individually and come out and play – this is the biggest need we have! Please fill out and mail/drop off the attached entry form to Bay Path GC with your entry fee to or sign up at Bay Path GC. Please make out checks for golf play to Bay Path Golf Course. The cost is only $340 per foursome or $85 per player, and includes 18 holes of golf and a meal afterwards. Golf carts are extra and need to be reserved with Bay Path GC ahead of time on a first-come-first-served basis).Please reserve your team’s spot by August 27th! we need to know this to arrange food, etc. – so letting us know you are coming is a very big help). Singles are welcome and we can help you get team mates – just let us know you want to play
  • Hole Sponsor – $50 or more (please make hole sponsor checks payable to the USO).
  • Donate a gift certificate or a raffle item that we can use! You can drop off at Bay Path or we can pick it up – please call Mark Morin at (508) 867-9634 for pick up.

Thank you so much in advance for your generous support of the USO and our courageous men and women in uniform!

Sincerely:

The USO Benefit Golf Tournament Committee:   Mark and Lynn Morin, Justyne Smith, Bob Tilton, Ray Lareau, Sr., Jerry Dufresne, Jim Hemenway, JP LeBoeuf, Debbie Rice

 12th ANNUAL USO GOLF TOURNAMENT, Saturday, September 5th, 2015

(Please check all that apply)

 

  • Yes, I’d like to reserve my foursome! My $340 check for golf, payable to Bay Path GC is enclosed. The names of my foursome are as below (if you know the names):
  • Please choose a TEAM NAME – you can pick Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, American Legion or VFW Post, former veteran or active duty member, or whatever you want!:
  • PLEASE CHOOSE A TEAM NAME: _________________________________________Team Captain:____________________________________________________________Player 2:_________________________________________________________________Player 3:_________________________________________________________________Player 4:_________________________________________________________________
  • Yes, I’d like to play but I need a team! My check for $85, payable to Bay Path GC is enclosed. Please reserve a spot for me and put me on a team! My Name is:________________________________________________________________________________
  • Yes, I’d like to sponsor a hole – my $50 or greater donation, payable to the USO, is enclosed. Please list my sponsorship as follows:        ____________________________________________________________________________ 
  • Yes, I’d like to donate a prize or prizes for your raffle.
  • PRIZE OR PRIZES DONATED: _________________________________________________________
  • VALUE: ____________________________________________________________________________
  • THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF THE TRoOPS AND THE USO!

SUNDAY SWEEPS ARE BACK AT BAY PATH GOLF COURSE!

The Sunday Sweeps are back at Bay Path Golf Course! Great news!!

There was a little snow behind 3 that is now GONE!

This was a last week (April 26th) on 6 – no, my ball really did not end up here.

Bunker on 6th Hole
Bunker on 6th Hole

My game is rusty but I have spring, summer, and part of fall ahead to fix, or at least try to do so.  Then this white stuff comes again.  As the Starks say, WINTER IS COMING.

Jeff did a great job with all the tree removal!  Thanks Jeff!

Opening Day of Golf – at Raceway GC in Thompson, CT – Fun but not Pretty!

After an awful winter that saw us get 119.1″ of snow (the most in the country for the season), it was nice to get out on the course on April 12th.

I went with perennial golf buddies Bob Tilton, Jerry Dufresne, and Dave Faugno.  Of course, to fuel up, we needed to hit the Cracker Barrel in Sturbridge.  Lynn joined Bob and I for breakfast of champions.

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Bob & Mark attack Uncle Herschel’s at Cracker Barrel

The opening day for golf was fun!  The teams were Bob & myself vs. Jerry & Dave, with Bob playing the forward tees due to him being 82!  I let Bob down with my play which was terrible (I shot 101 – my worst score in 4 years).   Thankfully while we lost the front  3-2, we tied the back 1-1 mitigating the losses.  I won’t cite the others’ scores (all better than mine), but suffice it to say that mud, swing rust, and unfamiliar greens added up to a lot of strokes for all.

It was $27 to walk for me and the rest rode at a pricey $53 (a surprise).  The course was packed as everyone wanted to get winter over with once and for all!

Dave drives the 2nd
Dave drives the 2nd
Jerry drives the 2nd (and looks at his divot)
Jerry drives the 2nd (and looks at his divot)
Mark's approach into 16 would hit the bunker
Mark’s approach into 16 would hit the bunker (saved a Bogey)
The ice was not yet gone!
The ice was not yet gone!

Bob & I paid our debt, and then hit the restaurant for lunch.  With stock car races next door, the sound of engines mixed with the Masters broadcast!