On Monday night at Birch Ridge Golf Course we had an opportunity to witness some of the best golfers Alaska has to offer compete in the 11th Annual All-Alaskan Pro Skins Game sponsored by Wells Fargo Alaska. Twenty professional golfers from around the state, each with three amateurs, played in the Seventh Annual Pro-Am Tournament earlier in the day. The eight lowest scoring pros went on to compete in the skins. What a kick it was to witness first-hand how those who really know how to play the game handle the pressure of competition at this level.
And just like the pros on TV, our Alaskan pros offered up some real treats to the gallery that followed them around the course incredibly long drives, fairway iron shots checking up right next to the pin and putts falling in the cup just like they're supposed to. Of course, just like the pros on TV, there were the errant drives, lost balls and missed putts. And for this very amateur golfer, it was just one more reminder of how humbling this wonderful game of golf can be for all of us. Congratulations to all the pros that played in the final eight, to the winning team of Billy Bomar/Bryan Anderson and to all the other winners from earlier in the day.
This Saturday and Sunday is an opportunity for the amateurs among us to play like the pros in the 34th Annual Peninsula Amateur Golf Championship Tournament. This is the longest running individual golf tournament on the Kenai Peninsula. With 18 holes each day and scratch play flighted by handicap, there will be closest to the pin, long drive and skins prizes on the final day with a BBQ to follow. Entry fee is $100 including green fee ($50 for season ticket holders). There will be a Junior Division for golfers ages 17 years and younger. The first round (qualifying round) can be played on either Friday or Saturday. Call the pro shop (262-5270) for more information or to register. Deadline to sign up is Friday at noon.
And the senior golfers among us who are still hoping to play like a pro will have another opportunity next Thursday and Friday (July 19- 20) in the 13th Annual Grainge Memorial Senior Golf Tournament. Sponsored by the Birch Ridge Golf Association in honor of Ted Grainge, this tournament is a favorite of those who are at least 50 years of age. The cost is $75 and includes two days of 18 holes of golf, with a BBQ on the final day. With scratch play, flighted by handicap, prizes will be awarded for first and second place in each flight (Men 50-59 first and second flights, Men 60+, first and second flights and Ladies flight). Remember Ted, as you tee off on hole No. 4 (check out the rock on the men's tee box and 'lean left').
Future golf pros (also known as junior golfers) are reminded that next week is the Junior Golf Clinic for three days (July 17-19) from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. each day with a BBQ to follow on the July 19. For $30 ($20 for additional golfers from the same family), this is a great opportunity for our young golfers to learn from our very own Birch Ridge Pros Tom Walsh and Bill Engberg. Clinic graduates may play on Thursday mornings for free (accompanied by an adult) for the rest of the season. Call the pro shop at 262-5270 to sign up.
The Soldotna Elks may not always golf like pros but they always put on a great golf tournament. Sign up early for this very fun tournament scheduled for August 4. The entry fee is $60 and includes green fees and steak feed at the Elks Lodge following the tournament.
The Wednesday Night Men's League took the week off and celebrated Independence Day on the July 4.
Due to the Pro-Am on Monday, the Seniors League played on Tuesday this week with seven seniors teeing off. No reports on whether Darell Jelsma played like a pro, but he did win the low net of the day with a 34. Closest to the hole on No. 6 was Ed Robinson, closest to the hole on No. 8 was George McDowell and just like a pro, Don McGhee made the longest putt.
The Tuesday Morning Ladies League are pros at playing in all kinds of weather and this week was no exception reporting a lot of cool, soggy fun. Posting the best team score of 111 was Jane Tongen, Jan Stenga and Dee Richards. Closest to the hole on No. 8 was Jane Tongen and the fewest putts honor was shared by Jane Tongen and Kathy Herring with 15 putts each.
Next Tuesday the Ladies Clinic will be at 12:30 p.m. at which time Bill will go over putting. This will be a free clinic, so come on out ladies and learn how to putt like a pro from a pro.
The Tuesday Night Couples sure did miss our very own Professional Couple John and Jane Tongen this week. With nine couples, we kept it as simple as we could, playing a two-person, best ball format. We welcomed another new couple, Steve and Sally Tachik, who made themselves right at home taking first place with a net 26. Our second place couple with a net 28 was Jerry and Kathy Herring and coming in third with a 32 was Jamie and Jana Query.
We look forward to the return of the Tongens next week along with another exciting format and the usual joke from John.
SHARON'S THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK "I know I'll never play golf like a pro, but that isn't stopping me from coming out to Birch Ridge as often as possible where golfers of all skill levels get together to have a great time. And I think my game is getting better since I'm missing the ball much closer now."
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