Till death do they putt

Posted: Monday, July 24, 2000

Birch Ridge -- a more fitting name for Soldotna's golf course would be Buxton Ridge.

Carolyn and Paul Buxton won the men's and women's championship flights Sunday in the Peninsula Amateur at Birch Ridge.

"We were not married at a golf course," Carolyn said while her and Paul were being presented with their trophies by Birch Ridge owner Pat Cowan.

Carolyn entered day three of the 54-hole tournament with a 20-stroke lead. She appeared relaxed, but said that in golf no victory is ever assured.

"It can all fall apart in a tournament," she said.

Despite the pressure, Buxton said that she was happy to be out on the course.

"It is always fun to play with other women," she said.

Buxton's flight mate, Barb Winkler, said she enjoyed playing with Buxton, but thought the two were not well matched.

"I haven't played long," she said. "I have a bad neck."

Seven women played in the Peninsula Amateur. The low number disappointed Cowan. Further disappointment included the withdrawal of Lynne Reynolds.

Reynolds was Buxton's closest competitor, until a sting from a wasp created such swelling on her hand that she was unable to grip her club.

One man who had no trouble holding a club was Mo Redford. Redford's stamina helped him win a playoff round of sudden death for a second-place finish in the first flight.

"Patience and perseverance," he said. "I wore them down."

Redford said he gave it his best chasing first flight leader Mike Hollingsworth, but he was never able to come closer than the eight strokes that separated the two at the day's opening.

"I played Mutt and Jeff," Redford said. "I had a good front nine and a so-so back."

Redford said he hopes to duplicate his performance in the upcoming Peninsula Senior golf challenge.

"I don't know if I'll do any better, some of those seniors are good," he said.

While 17-year-old Nolan Rose may not be invited to the senior tournament, he is well liked at Birch Ridge.

"I play a lot out here. We all get along," Rose said.

Rose said he has a few friends his age who play golf, but he likes the solitude of the game.

"It's an individual sport," he said. "If you screw up, it's your fault."

Rose said he was not hitting the ball well on Sunday. This assessment could be argued because Rose did hit the ball straight enough to earn first place in the junior division and second in the championship flight.

"Nolan's improving," Paul Buxton said. "He's going to be good."

Buxton started playing golf before he was 10 years old; however, it was only within the last eight years that he started playing regularly.

Buxton's consistency off the tee and calculated, logical shots are most likely responsible for his victory, which came by eight strokes over Rose.

The battle in the championship flight was tight and heated. Five points separated the leaders at the day's start.

"I thought I would come here and play my game and I could beat this dentist," Rob Smithwick said about playing Buxton. "But I couldn't pull it out. It was an 'A' game against a 'C' game. He never missed a fairway, never missed a green. He was a machine. Unstoppable."

Smithwick joked that Buxton is the reason that last year's Peninsula Amateur champions did not compete.

"They were frightened. Spineless," Smithwick quipped. Buxton was eight strokes better than last year's champion.

Carolyn said that her husband is very competitive and has an interesting perspective on tournament play.

"You make it into a big deal in your mind," he said. "But try too hard, and you'll loose it."

Buxton's performance is testimony to his ability to accurately value the game of golf. He said his wife's mind was just as clear as his own on Sunday.

"We were at the top of our game."

Men's championship flight

Paul Buxton 74-78-76 -- 228

Nolan Rose 76-79-81 -- 236

Rob Smithwick 81-76-84 -- 241

Mike Chenault 86-84-82 -- 252

Matt Matarrese 84-84-86 -- 253

Gerald Winkler 84-83-88 -- 255

Joe Blanchard 80-84-92 -- 256

Tom Allison 87-89-88 -- 264

Bob Bird 84-96-94 -- 274

Women's championship flight

Carolyn Buxton 90-89-91 -- 270

Lisa Parker 104-100-94 -- 298

Barb Winkler 102-111-99 -- 316

Men's first flight

Mike Hollingsworth 83-81-95 -- 259

Bob Fenimore 88-87-87 -- 262

George Stein 89-87-86 -- 262

Mo Redford 93-83-86 -- 262

Scott Jackson 88-92-91 -- 271

Jay Kriner 89-96-87 -- 272

Mike Munger 94-92-90 -- 276

Dustin Jung 99-90-87 -- 276

John Davis 96-96-88 -- 280

Tony Azzara 86-93-108 -- 287

Dave Keating 100-101-88 -- 289

Josh Lansing 85-102-103 -- 290

Women's first flight

Helen Chenault 96-100-100 -- 196

Sharon Keating 111-107-102 -- 218

Teresa Connoley 103-99-96 -- 308

Men's second flight

Don McGhee 87-93-95 -- 275

Phil Turkington 97-98-96 -- 291

Bob Clapsaddle 99-98-98 -- 295

Dick Cockroft 105-91-104 -- 300

Ron Carlson 106-104-94 -- 304

Dave Stein 97-103-109 -- 309

Sam Best 106-105-109 -- 317

John Lansing 105-109-113 -- 325

Gary Dawkins 99-114-115 -- 338

Richard Atuk 120-102-109 -- 340

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