New nets almost finished

Birch Ridge Report

Posted: Friday, August 11, 2006

In addition to my handicap, there’s a lot more UP at Birch Ridge these days. For starters, there’s the netting on the driving range. After several years of planning, scheming, begging and dreaming, the infamous net project is close to completion.

If you’ve ever been in the fairway on the first or second hole when golfers were practicing their long, but not particularly straight, golf shots at the driving range, you know that it was common to hear “fore” being yelled as a warning to duck quickly as a ball came sailing over the net. Even worse was maybe not hearing “fore” as a warning and just hearing a ball come sailing by as you were making that one great golf shot of the day.

Several years ago, the Birch Ridge Golf Association offered to help with this daunting project and many members over the years have contributed their expertise, skills and labor to finally make it happen. Although the unknowing person might think this would be an easy task, it certainly was not. In the beginning it meant adding pipe, which took special equipment (thanks to Peak Construction) and a welder (hired by the golf course) to extend the pipes UP so netting could be added.

Unfortunately, the winds blew, and the netting came down, taking some pipes with it. More heavy equipment was needed (thank you Mike Chenault), the pipes went back UP and it was back to the drawing board.

Association members put their engineering minds together and determined that supports were needed for the poles. This meant more welding (thank you Harold McDowell and Jim McWilliams), which was completed at the end of 2005. Finally on July 23 of this year, after locating more netting and rounding up another crew (Jim McWilliams again, his son Jake, Dan Blankenship, Tom Walsh and Pat Cowan), the netting finally went UP again, hopefully this time for good. Just a bit more fine-tuning is needed, which should be complete by the end of the season.

Thanks to those who contributed over the years to this project so that we can all concentrate on those great fairway shots on No. 1 and No. 2 and not worry about range balls sailing by. Oh, oh! There goes my excuse for not making that great fairway shot!

What was UP last Saturday at Birch Ridge? Well, for one thing, the course was taken over by Elks! Not the four-legged kind, but the UP-standing kind that get together to have fun, raise some money for a great organization and do a little golfing. Many years ago, one well-known Elk member by the name of Phil Turkington decided that there should be a golf tournament, and thus it began. Over time this has become one of the most fun-filled tournaments of the year. So much so, that Elks from all over the state make the journey here to Birch Ridge to play.

We had 13 four-person teams participating in a scramble format with the team of Ted Prudence, Phil Turkington, Dan Mortenson and Elaine Anderson taking first place. There was a three-way tie for second place and the Elks, being the generous group that they are, paid second, third and fourth places.

So the remaining winnings were added together and distributed evenly between the following teams: 1) Bob Sizemore, Joel Macrander, Norm Murphy, Jane Stein; 2) Kevin O’Fallon, Norm Mortenson, Buster Green, Judi Christensen; and 3) Gary Brumley, Gordie Briscoe, Dave Keating, Sharon Keating.

Other prizes were awarded for men’s long drive (Caleb Sizemore), women’s long drive (Elaine Anderson), closest to the hole on No. 6 (for the men — Mike Makela and for the women — Judi Christenen) and closest to the hole on No. 8 (for the men — Gary Brumley and for the women — Chiya Bazan). Congratulations to all the winners and a personal thanks to the others on my team who helped me be on the winners list for a change!

A huge thank you to Phil Turkington, who continues to take charge and make this such a great tournament, to all those who helped Phil and to those who participated in the tournament to help the Elks raise money for another great cause.

Late results are in from the Seward Seahawk Athletic Booster Club Tournament at Birch Ridge on July 29. Eighteen teams, made up of mostly Seward golfers, played a best-ball scramble to raise over $4,000 for Seward High School’s athletic programs.

The first-place team of Skip Reierson, Vicki Loomis and Wayne Fleming came in at 3-under-par and their names will be placed on the tournament plaque at the high school. Dan Murphy and Teal Hetrick won the longest drive contests, Jonnah Dick won the closest to the pin contest and with the generous support of all the sponsors, all 18 teams received prizes and enjoyed the picnic following the tournament.

Thanks to those who organized the event again this year (Jean Bardarson, Jeff Hetrick, Vicki Loomis and Kim Reierson), to Marie Wagner who helped collect prizes and set up the barbecue, and to all those who participated (especially those driving from Seward).

Here’s an UP-date for you on the Bassackwards tournament scheduled for Aug. 19, with a shotgun start at 5 p.m. If you’ve never played this tournament, you don’t know what you’re missing. This is a nine-hole tournament with the course set up backwards. In other words, tee off from the fairway on No. 9 and hit to the green on No. 8, tee off from the fairway on No. 8 and hit to the green on No. 7, and so on around the course, ending at the putting green next to the clubhouse.

Format is a scramble with teams made up of A, B, C and D players determined by handicaps. This tournament is sponsored by the Birch Ridge Golf Association and in the past was for association members only. But the association board voted to open it up to anyone who wants to play so that everyone could join in the fun! Call the pro shop to sign up. Cost is only 40, which includes a great feast following the tournament. Proceeds go to the junior golf program.

I wonder if the men who played the Wednesday Night Men’s League on Aug. 2 were UP-beat? Maybe the winning team of Roy Bird, Walt Krieger and Gary Effenbeck were, especially Roy, who was celebrating his birthday. Second place went to Rick Kennedy, Rich Harman, John Davis and Phil Christensen. And what was UP with Phil Christensen? He also was closest to on No. 6, closest to on No. 8 and had a pure birdie!

The seniors were UP and at it again this Monday. There was a three-way tie for first place with a low net of 34 (Darell Jelsma, Jerry Norris and George Mccullum). And getting the ball UP and down and closest to the hole on No. 6 was Jerry Norris and on No. 8 it was Gary Effenbeck. And do you think that longest putt that Dave Stein made was an UP-hill putt?

Our “couple-in-charge” for the Tuesday Night Couples League, John and Jane Tongen, were UP-UP-and-away again this week (somewhere on the road to Fairbanks). But that sure didn’t stop them from having the UPPER hand by giving explicit instructions on how to test our couple relationships on the golf course. This week 13 couples played a two-person scramble with each person having to use three drives and three second shots. Using every bit of strategy we could come UP with, two couples tied for first place.

I’m happy to report that the Keatings (my husband, Dave, and I) tied the Walshs (Tom and Judy) with a net 22. There also was a tie for second place with a net 23 between Del and Sally Hoagland and Pat and Myrna Cowan. And rumor has it that Linda Murphy was just inches away from the hole on No. 8 and from buying a round for the house. Come on Linda, if you’re going to get a hole in one, why not on a Tuesday night?

All couples are welcome, just call the pro shop at 262-5270 and get your name on the list before next Tuesday night (sign-in by 5:30, tee-off at 6:00). Hopefully, the Tongens will be back (with a more couple-friendly game) or there might be an UP-rising!

TOM’S TIP FOR THE WEEK: In 1923, do you know who the president of the largest steel company was or the largest gas company? That same year, who was the president of the New York Stock Exchange or the greatest wheat speculator? How about the Great Bear of Wall Street? In 1923, they were all considered some of the world’s most successful people. But what happened to them?

The president of the largest steel company was Charles Schwab, who died a pauper. The largest gas company president, Edward Hopson, went insane and the NYSE president, Richard Whitney, was released from prison to die at home. The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cooger, died abroad, penniless, and the Great Bear of Wall Street, Cosabee Livermore, committed suicide.

However, in that same year, 1923, Gene Sarazen was the PGA Champion and the winner of the most important golf tournament, the U.S. Open. And what became of him? He played golf until he was 92, died in 1999 at the age of 95 and was financially secure at the time of his death. Tom’s tip this week: “Forget work and play golf!”

SHARON’S THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: “Just about the time I think it’s time to give UP on golf, I have that one good shot that sends me back out to try it again. I must be getting better, though, cause during my last round of nine, I only lost four balls (even if it was during a scramble and I didn’t have to hit my ball all the time).

Things are looking UP!

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