Independence Day reminds me once again of how fortunate we are to live in a country with so many freedoms. We should all pause from our busy schedules, say a prayer for our troops and thank those who sacrifice every day so that we can all enjoy our very special freedoms. Not the least of which is the freedom to play golf at a wonderful course like Birch Ridge. So in keeping with the spirit of the holiday, I'd like to pay tribute not only to the wonderful men and women who serve our country every day, but to our own local golfing stars.
Although the Walker Cup went to Kenai this year, we at Birch Ridge are very proud of our golfers. They played well and made Kenai work hard for the win this past Sunday in the final round of the three-day event. Congratulations to the Kenai golfers and their captain, Tom Carver. Birch Ridge captain, Tom Walsh, and the Birch Ridge golfers had a lot of fun and look forward to bringing home the Walker Cup next year.
A very special day of Alaska star-studded golf will happen on Monday when pros from across the state will shine in the seventh annual Birch Ridge Pro-Am Tournament followed by the 11th annual Wells Fargo Alaska All Alaskan Pro Skins Game. If you really want to see first hand how the pros play, here's your chance. Just come on out on Monday and follow eight pros around the course as they compete in this two-man alternate shot format. The pros with the best score from the pro-am earlier in the day will tee off between 6 and 6:30 p.m. following a barbecue provided by Wells Fargo Alaska. The public is invited to attend both the barbecue and the skins game at no cost.
Amateurs wanting to participate in the Pro-Am on Monday should call Pat Cowan or Tom Walsh at the pro shop (262-5270) and get your name on the list. Limited space is available.
Junior golfers are invited to shine in the upcoming Junior Golf Clinic to be held on July 17, 18 and 19. Back by popular demand, golf pros Tom Walsh and Bill Engberg will conduct the clinic from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for the three days. A barbecue will follow the clinic on the July 19. Boys and girls ages 8 to 17 are welcome, with an advanced group for the more experienced players. Cost is $30, or $20 for additional child from the same family. As a bonus, graduates of the clinic may play for free (accompanied by an adult) on Thursday mornings for the rest of the season. Call the pro shop for tee times.
Don't forget the 34th annual Peninsula Amateur Tournament scheduled for July 14 and 15, and the Peninsula Senior Tournament set for July 19 and 20. For more information on these two events, call the pro shop at 262-5270.
It's not too early to sign up for the Soldotna Elks Lodge #2706, Phil Turkington Golf Classic. Scheduled for Aug. 4, this very popular tournament fills up fast, so be sure and get your registration in soon. Fee is $60 if received by July 31 and $70 after July 31 and includes the greens fee and steak feed following the tournament at the Soldotna Elks Lodge.
The Wednesday Night Men's League on June 27 may not have set off any fireworks, but there were a few sprinkles of brilliance displayed by some of the golfers. Mike Edwards posted the low net score with a 32. The low net team of Mike Edwards, John Davis and Tim Bowser scored a 28. Mike Cowan was closest to the hole on Nos. 6 and 8, and appearing like a rocket was the long drive made by Chris Hough.
Seventeen seniors lit up the course on Monday morning with explosive performances from Darell Jelsma (low net of 33 and closest to the hole on No. 6), Roger Jones (closest to the hole on No. 8) and Tanya Boedeker (longest putt).
Tuesday Morning the Ladies League sparkled as usual with eleven ladies playing a blind-draw team format. The team of Dee Richards, Rita Geller, Jane Tongen and Cheryl Hammarstrom took first place with a team score of 144. An especially sparkling performance came from Rita Geller, who was closest to the hole on No. 6 (12 feet from the hole) and tied Jane Tongen with the fewest putts (15).
Of course, the Tuesday Night couples celebrated Independence Day early with their own form of fireworks, thanks to John and Jane Tongen, who were especially devious in their pick of the game this week. As we headed out to play the Chapman format, John warned us that it is also known as the divorce court game. (I suppose in keeping with the "freedom" idea.) Both players from each couple teed off, then played the other person's tee shot for the second shot. For the third shot, the couple picked the best second shot and then alternated the ball into the hole. After the handicaps were applied, out of 15 couples, the couple with a reason to celebrate the most was Charlie and Lori Weimer with a net 26.
We welcomed three new couples this week. Bursting right in with a net 27 and taking second place was Vic and Carol Hussey. It took a card-off to determine third and fourth place, with three teams posting a net 30. To be saluted are Tim and Jennifer Cowan, who took third place. And after being absent for the past several weeks, Steve and Lisa Parker made up for lost time, taking fourth away from another new couple, John and Linda Dahlgren.
SHARON'S THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: I am reminded of something Myrna Cowan said this week, "Somewhere deep inside all of us is a really good golfer just waiting to come out." Well, Myrna, I am still waiting for mine to break free and begin playing some of that star-spangled golf. God bless America!
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