Birch Ridge Golf Report

Long days, long drives

Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2007

For many happy golfers this past week, long sunny days meant more time spent at Birch Ridge. For some it meant long drives. Not the kind of drive requiring costly gas in the tank, but the kind that gets you from the tee box to the green. Unfortunately, for this happy golfer, it meant more time spent searching for errant shots and lost balls. But I’m not complaining ... not even when my husband, Dave, went out golfing with me and I noticed he kept checking his watch. I finally asked him to stop since it was distracting me. He replied, “It’s not a watch ... it’s a compass!”

The Junior Golf Clinic last week was such a big success that our pros, Tom Walsh and Bill Engberg, have decided to do another one. The encore clinic will be July 17 to 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., with a barbecue following on July 19. Boys and girls ages 8 to 17 are welcome, with an advanced group for more experienced players. Check with Tom or Bill at 262-5270 about qualifying for the advanced group. Cost will be $30, or $20 for additional kids in the same family. Graduates of the program can play free on Thursday mornings for the rest of the season, with an adult.

Thirty-five junior golfers participated in last week’s clinic, learning techniques, etiquette, rules and how to have fun golfing. On Friday, they showed us how much they learned playing six modified holes followed by a barbecue with prizes for all.

The Junior Golf Tournament on Friday afternoon had 25 players, divided into three divisions. The 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds played six holes, modified to measure 150 to 165 yards. Michael Tilly took first place and Ross Hanson came in second. Tiernan Supple made a birdie on No. 7 when he hit his drive within 6 feet of the hole and made the putt, coming in third.

In the 10-, 11- and 12-year-old division, first place went to River Calloway after a playoff with Dalton Lohrke. Both scored 40 in six holes from the red tees. Tyler Yamada came in third with a 45. In the 13-and-up age group, playing nine holes from the white tees, Truckee Lemay came in first, Connor Toohey came in second and Jordan Wik came in third. Justin Hermann was the overall medalist with a 40.

The June Scramble on Saturday featured long drives, long playoffs for some and lots of fun for all. Eleven teams were divided into two divisions. After a five-hole playoff, the team of Taylor Jackson, Justin Hermann, Nick Perata and Mike Cowan beat out the team of Jennifer Cowan, Tim Cowan, Pat Cowan and Curtis Smith for first place in Division I. In Division II, the team of Gary Dawkins, John Lansing, Jim McWilliams and Paula Crowley won a three-hole playoff, taking first from the team of Rudy Zaborowski, Loren Smagge, Jana Query and Derek Crower. Paula Crowley was closest to the hole on both No. 6/14 and No. 8/17 and had a pure birdie. John Tongen and Tim Cowan also had pure birdies. Justin Hermann and Jana Query made the longest drives.

Upcoming events are the Soldotna Best Rotary Midnight Scramble on Saturday, the All-Alaskan Pro-Am and Skins Game on July 9, the Peninsula Amateur from July 14 to 15, the Peninsula Senior Tournament from July 19 to 20 and the Phil Turkington Golf Classic sponsored by Soldotna Elks on Aug. 4 (register early for this one). Call the pro shop at 262-5270 for more information.

Nine golfers came out on June 13 for Men’s League, enjoying a warm sunny night. George McDowell scored the low net with a 33. The team of Roy Bird, George McDowell and Steve Tachick posted the low team score with a 29. Closest to the hole was Roy Bird on No. 6 and Tim Bowser on No. 8. John Davis had the longest drive.

Monday morning 15 seniors played, with Don McGhee posting the low net score of 31. Closest to the hole was Steve Hammarstrom on No. 6 and Chuck Obendorf on No. 8. Roger Jones made the longest putt.

Tuesday morning was beautiful, as were the lovely ladies who golfed. The winning team was Louise Schadle, Shirley Johnsrud, Mary Anderson and Kathy Herring. Kathy also had the fewest putts and lowest net score. Closest to the hole was Jane Tongen on No. 8. Bill Engberg gave a lesson on fairway woods. Next week he will teach chipping and putting at 9 a.m. with the ladies teeing off at 10 a.m. It will be the last Tuesday of the month, with a scramble format and potluck to follow.

The Tuesday Night Couples League was long on fun (15 couples) and some really good golf thrown in for good measure. Long on ingenuity, as usual, were John and Jane Tongen, guiding us in a two-couple Stableford format. Using two best-ball net scores, we accumulated four points for eagles, three points for birdies, two points for pars, one point for bogies no points for anything more than a bogey.

With the highest score, coming in first, were Pat and Myrna Cowan, and Sharon and Dave Keating. Jerry and Kathy Herring were the “odd couple,” so they drew for another team score (managing to add the Cowans’ score to their own) taking second place. George and Sue Stein, and Steve and Cheryl Hammarstrom took third. Noteworthy gross scores were posted by Dave Keating with a 36 and Kathy Herring with a 39. Quoting Pat Cowan, “It’s not so much how you play, but who you play with.” I agree!

TOM’S TIP: Problem: Trouble hitting the fairway from the tee box. Solution: Instead of swinging into your normal full follow-through, finish your drive when the clubhead reaches about waist-high after impact.

1. Clubshaft and left arm are more or less still in line;

2. Right wrist is still bent back slightly;

3. Right arm is across chest;

4. Chest is facing target;

5. Toe of club is pointing up, neither too open nor too closed.

If you work on finishing your driver swing with a short follow-through (Nos. 1 through 5) you may lose a little distance, but a lot more drives will be in the fairway.

SHARON’S THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: “I would gladly trade in a long drive (if I had one) for one in the fairway, but I would never trade in these long, sunny days.”

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