Birch Ridge Golf Course gets buzzing earlier than normal

Birch Ridge Golf Report

Posted: Sunday, May 13, 2007

Just as sure as the snow covers the ground in the fall and melts away in the spring, so do the golf balls begin covering Birch Ridge Golf Course at this time of the year. And thankfully this year it happened earlier than most. There’s excitement in the air. I noticed it as I made my usual rounds of errands this week. It seemed everywhere I went someone was asking questions like, “Have you been out golfing yet?” (The answer of course is yes). And, “How’s the course look?” (Answer: Great for this early in the season) and then that dreaded question, “How’s your game?” (I refuse to answer that one, but let me just say that I’ve already had my first ‘refresher’ lesson from our resident pro, Tom Walsh). So ask me that one again later in the season.

The pro shop is buzzing with excitement and activity, too. There are a couple of new faces this year. We welcome Rita Geller and Jacqueline Cowan and look forward to seeing them often. I’m sure they’ll take good care of us and be on hand to congratulate some of you and console the rest of us after our round. And of course there are the familiar faces. Owners, Pat and Myrna Cowan, will be on hand to do what they do best (making sure we have a great place to play). Tom Walsh is still our head pro and superintendent in charge of keeping the course in great shape with the help of his able crew, Zac Cowan, Aaron Andrus, Taylor Jackson and Tanner Abendroth. Bill Engberg is also on hand as our assistant pro and available for lessons along with Tom Walsh. Chris Christie is our returning mechanic.

As usual our seniors were the first ones out to begin their new season on April 30 with seven players. Posting the low net score of 34 was Don McGhee. Roger Jones was closest to the hole on No. 6, with Gary Effenbeck making the longest putt. Although Monday was officially rained out, four die-hard golfers still showed up to play. Seniors play on Monday mornings, so come on out and play if you are at least 50 years young.

The Tuesday Morning Ladies League is scheduled to begin play on Tuesday with Kathy Herring and Cheryl Hammarstrom leading the way. This group plays a different format each week, has a potluck once a month and I’m told the first order of business always is to have a great time. Ladies of all skill levels are welcome.

The Tuesday Night Couples will begin their fun-filled evenings on Tuesday at 6 p.m. (and to play some golf, too). And thankfully, John and Jane Tongen have agreed to again lead us into temptation with their crazy games, each week playing a nine-hole handicapped round for $10 per couple. (Couple is defined as one man, one woman — and need not be married). There is a sign-up sheet each week in the pro shop or please call the pro shop at 262-5270 before noon on Tuesdays to play, since the game they pick is determined by how many players there are. One thing is for sure — you’re guaranteed to have a great time.

Wednesday Night Men’s League began on Wednesday. The new format this year is a team best ball based on average team handicap. There will also be individual scoring every week based on net scores and bonus points just for playing. At the end of 12 weeks there will be an overall winner followed by a playoff the 13th week between the top eight players. The top six of the eight will split the pot based on percentages established by chairman Gary Effenbeck. A huge thank you to Gary for taking on the task of organizing this league. Sounds like a lot of fun.

The 2007 Birch Ridge Ladies Cup begins the week of May 28, with a meeting scheduled for May 21 at 6 p.m. at the clubhouse to go over the upcoming season. Please plan on attending this very important meeting and be sure and get your entry form and fee in as soon as possible or bring it with you to the meeting. If you haven’t received a form and you are interested in playing this year, please give either Ardie Crawford or Jessica Sundberg a call, or call the pro shop at 262-5270. Last year we had 13 teams of two women participating and would welcome new ladies to our fun and friendly competition. Winners get the opportunity to take charge the following year. Just a reminder that the Ladies Cup is open to Birch Ridge Golf Association members only.

The Birch Ridge Men’s Cup begins the week of June 4. Dave and George Stein will be in charge again this year. Last year the men had 18 teams divided into two divisions. Both divisions were won by father-son teams (Bob and Caleb Sizemore and Dave and George Stein). The top four teams from each division then entered the playoff stage between the four top teams from each division with the overall winners being Pat and Zac Cowan, a grandfather-grandson team. In the wise words of Dave Stein, “Golf brings families together.” If you’re interested in playing, please give Dave or George a call, or call the pro shop at 262-5270.

There’s exciting stuff planned at Birch Ridge this year, so come be a part of this great community of golfers. Wonderful events are scheduled to give us the opportunity to have lots of fun and to allow us to help raise funds for many charitable organizations in the process.

One of the first of our tournaments for charity this year is our second annual ‘Rally for a Cure’ event scheduled for June 10 at 3 p.m. This is a women’s-only, nine-hole, blind-draw scramble, with all proceeds going to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Last year we had 42 ladies turn out in the rain to play. And even though we all got very wet, our spirits were not dampened in the slightest.

This year for our ‘Rally’ tournament, we are planning to fill the field with ladies in pink (all skill levels) to help raise funds for this very important cause, rain or shine. We have planned some exciting opportunities to win prizes on every hole in addition to door prizes, raffles and more. There will be a barbeque after the tournament. Nongolfers are welcome to attend for a $10 fee. We are looking for hole sponsors, donations for prizes and raffles, volunteers (men or women) and of course, golfers. There are many ways you can be a part of making this a great event, so please give the pro shop a call at 262-5270 and they will put you in touch with one of the committee members to find out how you can help us meet our goal.

I believe the No. 1 rule of golf should be to have fun. There are, however, many rules of golf that we all should be aware of when we are out on the course. So I’ve asked Tom Walsh to remind us of a rule now and then, as well us to continue to share some of his tips with us as he did last year. Being the ultimate pro that he is, he agreed:

Question: Your drive lands in the center of the fairway, but as you approach your ball you see a squirrel mistaking it for a beer nut. He nudges it a few yards closer and runs off, leaving you closer and with a better angle to the green. Under the rules you must:

a) replace your ball without penalty;

b) play it as it lies;

c) drop closest to the spot where your ball came to rest;

d) thank ‘Rocky’ with a Planters gift basket.

Answer: If you fail to replace your ball, you incur a two-stroke penalty in stroke play or loss of hole in match play. You have played from the wrong place.

But what if a bird mistakes your ball for a grub, snags it and flies off? As long as you have fair evidence that an outside agency, such as an eagle or hawk, took your ball, you may replace it under Rule 18-1 without penalty. Rule 18-1, “If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency” (be it a squirrel, lemur or a doofus from another fairway) “there is no penalty, and the ball must be replaced.” An animal is an outside agency, which is defined as anything not part of the match, excluding wind or water.

SHARON’S THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: I know my golf game needs a lot of work. The last time I was out playing, I was almost to the hole on No. 4 (finally), went up to what I thought was my ball and said to my husband, “I don’t think this is my ball, it looks too old.” He assured me that it was my ball — it had just been a very long time since I’d teed off.

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