Employees who make the course go round

Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2009

What can you say -- isn't this weather fantastic? With each passing day I see everything getting greener and better. The sunshine is wonderful and I am conflicted as to whether I should be outdoors enjoying the weather and golfing or getting the work done in the office. Right now the office is winning. Some would say I have my priorities in the wrong order. Maybe someday I will be blessed and just get to play all the time. I think that someday is many, many years away.

For almost 40 years Birch Ridge Golf Course has been a part of this community. It was originally started by Tom and Marge Smith. In 1993 Myrna and Pat Cowan purchased the course from the Smiths and began operating the course in the summer 1994, 15 years ago.

Besides Myrna and Pat, not counting volunteers, there are 12 other personnel working at Birch Ridge. Let's meet them. Next time you are at the course be sure to say hello and thank them for the wonderful things they do to keep Birch Ridge Golf Course a special place in our community.

Three of the employees grew up playing junior golf at Birch Ridge -- Nolan Rose, Zac Cowan, and Aaron Andrus. Nolan works in the pro shop and is in charge of the point of sale system. This is Nolan's second year working at the course but he has been playing golf at the course forever, or so it seems. Nolan's dad, Mike, also works at Birch Ridge and does special projects, like the beautiful walkways that lead to the pro shop. Mike, too, has been a part of Birch Ridge for many, many years. Zac has worked at the course for nine seasons. Over the years his duties have grown and this year besides taking care of fairways and greens he is also working in the pro shop. Aaron, also a part of the turf crew, has worked the past eight years at the course.

Tom Walsh has been the head pro and superintendent since 1997, his 13th year. He is the director of golf and heads the rules committee. Bill Engberg is beginning his fourth Season with Birch Ridge. Bill is the assistant pro and a valuable part of the turf crew. He also handles a lot of tournaments and sits on the rules committee.

Rita Geller, is the senior pro-shop salesperson. In addition to handling the job of running the pro shop, she also is responsible for making sure Pat's Place, the snack bar and lounge, is stocked with food and beverages. This is Rita's third Season.

Rounding out the employees who make it possible for us to enjoy a day or evening at the golf course is Tanner Abendroth, who started at Birch Ridge in 2006 and has been the head range attendant since 2008. Chris Christie is the mechanic and this is his fourth Season. Jane Tongen is a part-time employee in her second year. Jane is a pro-shop salesperson. Zack Oakly is the newest employee presently assigned as a range attendant. Morgan Hintermeister is the head housekeeper.

Senior League continues to enjoy great weather. Chuck Rider continues his winning ways from last season, leading the way this past Monday with a net 32. Seems like it was Men's Day for the seniors as John Tongen had closest to the pin on No. 6, George Cullum took home the honors on No. 8 and Don McGhee had the long putt on No. 9.

Tuesday Morning Ladies again saw fantastic weather and terrific play. The low score, carding a 35, was the team of Diane Mersch, Kathy Herring, Myrna Cowan and Cheryl Hammarstrom. Jane Tongen, Rita Geller and Tanya Boedeker teamed up to take second place. Pat Bird had closest to the pin on hole No. 5. Way to go, Pat!

Tuesday Couples Night was again a smashing success. Twenty couples turned out to play a two-person scramble. Each team only got to use four clubs and every team had to use each person's second shot at least three times. The other added twist, at least for the men, was the teams were playing from the wild rose tees. Due to the high number of couples, the top five teams took away prizes. Acing everyone out of first place was Mary Jo and John Davis. Tanya and Mike Chenault took second with Sharon and Dave Keating third. Lori and Charlie Weimer secured fourth with Don McGhee and Margaret Stanley rounding out the top five.

Men's Night saw lots of skins from Paul Zimmerman and Kevin O'Fallon, but there was no closest to the pin on either hole Nos. 6 or 8. For gross skins, Paul and Kevin each had 10 skins. With net skins, Paul, Kevin and Brian O'Fallon each had 12 skins.

"Hook-a-Kid-on-Golf" came to an end last Friday with Toby Brennan and Robbie Quelland of the Soldotna Police Department stopping for a visit.

Thank you Soldotna Police Department for your continued interest in our kids and educating them on safety issues. I understand that "super helper" Jane Stein was terrific at keeping things organized for not only the kids, but the golf pros that were giving the classes.

Forty three juniors are taking lessons from the two golf pros, Tom Walsh and Bill Engberg, at the Junior Golf Clinic. Assisting Tom and Bill is Nolan Rose, who is also a fantastic golfer, having won many a tournament at Birch Ridge and the State Junior Amateur title.

Remember this Saturday is the 31st Annual June Scramble. This is always an exciting, fun event. Put together your winning team and then contact the pro shop to sign up.

Sunday, June 28 is the most well-dressed golf tournament of the year -- Rally for the Cure. Judy Keck-Walsh can be contacted at 262-1560 for further details.

The pro shop is open on weekends from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Weekday hours are 8 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Weekly Events (please check in at least 15 minutes prior to the time shown below):

* Monday's at 9 a.m. -- Senior League

* Tuesday's at 10 a.m. -- Tuesday Morning Ladies League

* Tuesday's at 6 p.m. -- Couple's Night

* Wednesday's at 6 p.m. -- Men's Night

* Thursday's at 6 p.m. -- Ladies Night

Upcoming Events:

* Saturday, June 13 -- 31st Annual June Scramble

* Saturday, June 20 -- Best - Rotary Midnight Scramble

* Thursday, June 25 -- Ninth Annual Birch Ridge Golf Association Junior Golf Tournament (ages 8 to 17)

* Sunday, June 28 -- Rally for the Cure.

* Monday, July 6 -- Pro-Am Tournament with All Alaska Pro's, followed by the All-Alaskan Pro Skins Game and a barbecue

Birch Ridge Golf Course can be reached by calling 907-262-5270 or by visiting the Web site at www.birchridgegolf.com.

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