High stakes in skins game

Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2000

Some folks like to put a little wager on their golf games -- you know, just to make it interesting.

Well, things were really interesting Tuesday night at the Birch Ridge Golf Course when five of the top pros in the state competed for $2,550 in cash in a nine-hole skins game.

National Bank of Alaska, in cooperation with the Soldotna Elks and the Birch Ridge Golf Association, put up the cash for the event.

The first three holes were good for $100 each, Nos. 4, 5 and 6 were worth $250 each, and the stakes were raised to $500 a hole for the final three holes.

Tony Grimes, a teaching pro at the Palmer Golf Course, Billy Bomar and James Cantreras, both pros at the Anchorage Golf Course, Tom Mulka from Settler's Bay were invited to play against Tom Walsh, the Birch Ridge pro.

Under skins rules, the player that wins the hole wins the skin -- and the money that goes with it. If there is a tie, all the cash carries over to the next hole, making for some high-stakes golf.

Grimes birdied the par-4 second hole to win the first two skins and $200, while Walsh birdied the par-5 fourth hole for two skins and $350.

"Billy Bomar was the green in two, but he three-putted," Walsh said. "I was just off the green in two, and I chipped up and made about a three foot putt for my skin."

Grimes had the hot game for the evening, though, notching a birdie on the par-3 sixth for two skins and $500, and a birdie on the par-4 seventh with a 30-foot putt for a $500 skin.

Both the eighth and ninth holes ended in ties, so a sudden-death playoff was used to determine the winner of the final two skins and the $1000 that went with them.

Mulka came through with a birdie, sinking a 15-foot putt on the 10th hole.

While Cantreras didn't win a skin, he did score earlier in the day, landing a 50-pound king salmon.

"He was a little sore," Walsh said.

Walsh said the players involved the gallery of close to 100 that followed the game despite Tuesday evening's rain showers.

Though the checkbooks will be put away for this weekend's Peninsula Amateur Golf Tournament at Birch Ridge, the stakes will be just as high.

Birch Ridge owner Pat Cowan said that anywhere from 50-60 hearty souls enter the three-day, 54-hole tournament each year.

"It's probably one of the oldest continuous golf tournaments in the state," Cowan said of the 27-year-old event.

The Peninsula Amateur is an individual tournament -- a little more daunting to many golfers than the team events held on the peninsula's golf courses.

"You're out there hanging all by yourself," Cowan said.

The tournament is flighted by handicap, and competitors play scratch within their division. While there isn't a junior division, many juniors play in the tournament in their handicap group and an overall junior champion is recognized.

The entry fee is $75 and the greens fee for three days of golf is $64. Trophies and gift certificates are awarded to the top finishers in each flight.

Interested golfers must register by 9 p.m. today at the Birch Ridge pro shop. For more information, contact the pro shop at 262-5270.

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