Uniquely Alaskan golf classic tees off in Kodiak

Posted: Thursday, March 30, 2000

An Alaska AP Member Exchange

KODIAK (AP) -- Even Tiger Woods might have a difficult time with this course.

The 16th Annual Pillar Mountain Golf Classic tees off Saturday morning and the par-70 one-hole course is a uniquely Alaskan challenge for golfers of all skill levels.

With the pin, a five-gallon bucket, situated in green-dyed snow at the top of the mountain, players must climb 1,400 feet before they get a chance at holing out. Playing through ice, snow, brush and often miserable weather conditions, this is not for the faint of heart.

''We really emphasize warm gear and appropriate footwear,'' said Micky Crawford, tournament organizer and chairperson of the Professional Cross-Country Golf Association. ''We don't need any cases of hypothermia.''

Each player has a caddie and a spotter. This is a critical job in the harsh terrain of Pillar Mountain. Often armed with shovels, saws and hatchets, the helpers locate errant balls and give golfers playable shots if possible. No power tools are allowed and PGA rules apply with certain additions, such as a five-stroke penalty for waking up slumbering bears.

The event, which began as a bar bet between two off-season fishermen, is a fund raiser for various local charities, including the Tamietti-Durr-Waage Memorial scholarship for journalism students, the Kodiak Baptist Mission and the hypothermia unit at Providence Hospital.

''All of the money we raise stays right here in town,'' said Crawford. ''We would really like to see more local non-profit groups get involved.'' The event raises more than $5,000 annually.

The top finishers who make the cut after Saturday's round will compete on the final third of the course again on Sunday to determine the champion.

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