Jason Whalen and his group, including the mighty Thor…
Saturday, September 14th dawned at the Lake Padden Golf course in Bellingham, a lot like most other late summer days in the northwest..a warm, dewy, comfortable morning with a ‘marine layer’ (thin layer of clouds/fog) that promised to burn off and leave a spectacular late summer/early fall morning that would be glorious.
Mel Fish (Director of Golf) and his son Josh (Head Professional), who run the Lake Padden Golf facility, had the course in spectacular shape given the dry summer weather, and had gone out of their way in lending their expertise to Craig Brown and his committee in helping to plan and organize the first of what we hope is an annual event…the Western Rugby Alumni Golf Tournament.
The event was conceived as a way to get former Western rugby players, their friends and supporters, re-connected with old friends, the University, and ultimately, lend their support to the Rugby Alumni Association in their quest to support the WWU Men’s Rugby Club in any way possible.
Alums like former Rugby Club President Duane Roth (mid-70’s), who won the long drive contest (he drove all the way from Portland), and Jason Whalen (‘93-’98), who brought along a group that included Travis Rush (’92-’95), Matt Larson (’92-’94), and Matt Hazel (’92-’94), had a great time and vowed to return next year. Other alums there included guys like Ron Lee, Matt North, Vince Petisme, Nathan Spiller, Darin Hamm, Ed Peterson, Mark Lombard, Bob Sullivan, Rod Fiddick, Gil James, and Wayne Means. Alumni Board members Alex Knapp and Royle Johnson wanted to be there but Alex had another last minute commitment pop-up and Royle, who lives in Portland, couldn’t get away.
I know I’m forgetting a bunch of people but the turnout was really gratifying. Also gratifying was the support of other rugby groups in the area like Serevi Rugby from Seattle who were ably represented by world seven’s icon, Ben Gollings.
Had this event been played in anywhere in the world but North American, Lake Padden Golf Course would have been over run by fans seeking a glimpse of Mr. Gollings. The “Michael Jordan” of World IRB Sevens Rugby…google “ben gollings” and you’ll see why.
Also supporting the event on the corporate front were Ron Lee’s TransGroup who provided the ditty bag gifts along with Serevi Rugby. Buying hole sponsorships were Dave Bruck’s Tryline Group, Henifin Construction, International Athletic, and Jeff Kissick’s, Kissick Enterprises.
There was also lots of local support with people like Dr. Lowell Hanson, Dave DeYoung and Mike Flannery along with a large BC contingent that included Guardian Rugby’s Marsh McDonald and program supporters Ed Perih and his wife, Lynne.
Volunteers from the WWU Men’s Rugby Club were there to help and doing everything from running the registration table, to preparing the BBQ lunch, to filling in as golfers to replace alumni had other, last minute commitments. Sam Hobbs, Max Wright, current Men’s Rugby Club President, Nick Solimano, and a host of other players were there to make sure everything ran smoothly.
With 50+ golfers registering the Lake Padden crew got all the foursomes off without a hitch and the promise of the spectacular late summer day appeared in the early afternoon to complete the event.
The golfers were treated to grilled sausages at the turn along with requisite fixin’s and snacks. And after the golfers were finished they had burgers, chips, salads, and fruit waiting for them.
Perhaps the hit of the tournament, cuisine wise, was presented by Ned Kennedy and his able WWU Men’s Rugby Club volunteer assistant, Louie Henson. They had set-up a BBQ grill between the 12th green and the 13th hole tee bos and were serving hot steaming, sweet, succulent oysters as they popped open on the grill. Ned burned through (no pun intended) something like 12 dozen of the tasty shellfish. Duly energized, the golfers then waddled on to complete their rounds.
After all the golfers had finished there was a putting contest that had a lot of eager participants and tense moments with and I did not ever find out who won that thing.
Adam Roberts and his team of ringers won low gross for the tourney with something like a score of 9 under.
Marsh McDonald won closest to the pin with shot of 7’4”. Marsh was also the leading candidate for “best dressed” with his ‘loose interpretation’ of the Payne Stewart look sans knickers. Nice hat, nice try big guy, but no cigar this year. Marsh, aware of how close he did come to taking home the gold, vows to return next year and capture the ‘Best Outfit’ prize.
And long drive was won by one of the ringers from Alan Law’s group. We will be checking for steroids next year.
Looking ahead, we are going to schedule next year’s event on a Friday, probably September 26, 2014, the day before next year’s Viking 7’s Tournament. That way the alumni and supporters can spend Friday evening re-living the day’s activities and then spend all or part of the next day watching some of the best 7’s rugby on the West Coast as the WWU Men’s Rugby Club hosts their second Viking 7’s tournament.
Again, we would like to thank all the businesses and individuals who contributed so much to help us with this inaugural event. We’d especially like to thank all of the WWU Men’s Rugby Club players who volunteered their time to come out and help with this event.
Lastly, we’d like to thank all the alumni and friends who signed up and played in this year’s event, who took the time and made the effort to make your way to Bellingham to help the Western Rugby Alumni in their quest to provide much needed support to the WWU Men’s Rugby Club.
Thanks, and we hope we see you all next year.