Groton - The men's club championship last Sunday at Shennecossett Golf Course started at 8:08 a.m. and finished a little past 5 p.m., both competitors drenched with sweat after 36 holes on a humid day.
And with a story to tell.
Ken Wetmore of Mystic won his fourth Shenny club championship 1-up over Tim Sisk of Stonington, denying the 63-year-old Sisk his first title at the club. That's what Sisk would like to emphasize: Wetmore won it fair and square.
Aside from the two main competitors and their caddies, however, there was another warm-blooded entity with a starring role in the match. A seagull.
The match was square through 32 holes when Sisk's tee shot on the par 3, 195-yard 15th hole - he hit a 4-hybrid - struck a seagull in flight and ricocheted into the deepest part of the fescue on the right side of the fairway.
Sisk couldn't hit the ball, was forced to take an unplayable lie and finished with a double-bogey. Wetmore won the hole, the eventual deciding factor in the match.
The seagull is considered part of the field of play, falling under golf's "rub of the green," whereby a ball must be played as it lies when deflected or stopped by an outside agency (caddie, referee, etc.)
"Totally disbelief," said Wetmore of what he was thinking at the moment the seagull swooped in to affect the match and then flew away. "I've never seen anything like that in my life. I was just watching the ball go and all of a sudden, 'Boink,' the ball just drops out of the sky.
"I was kind of rattled by what happened, too. We were fighting it out, playing good the whole time. Then, 'Oh, man.' (Sisk) played with so much heart, so much resilience. He's a great friend. As good as I feel, I feel kind of worse that he didn't win."
Wetmore, who won his last title in 2005, was the top seed in the tournament. Sisk was the No. 3 seed. To reach the final, Sisk won two straight matches 1-up and then defeated defending champ and No. 2 seed Steve Chevalier in 22 holes in the semifinals the day before the final.
"It was like I was shooting skeet," said Sisk, who has taken more than his share of ribbing at the golf course in the past week. "It was agonizing, a huge hole. I've never seen it in my life. People are just bewildered. But that's the way it is. I hit it dead solid, too."
Sisk led 3-up after 28 holes before Wetmore won three of the next four to even things heading into the par 3.
Sisk is an eight-time club champion at Elmridge in Stonington and a 30-year former golf coach at Wheeler High School. He plays only on Saturdays and Sundays - "I don't want to waste any shots practicing," he said - and works at the Shenny pro shop during the week.
Sisk's wife, Dawn, will play for the women's club championship today against defending champion Rachel Caldwell.
Said Wetmore: "It was brutally hot both days (Saturday and Sunday). Me and Timmy were just totally spent, beet red, soaking wet with sweat. If we had to play sudden death after that, I don't know. We might have had to find some other way to settle it."