PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

July 3, 2012

Wildwood hosts special weekend with Old Glory

Bob West's Golf Column for July 4, 2012

Bob West
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Area golfers who have never played in Wildwood’s Old Glory golf tournament, especially those with a patriotic bent, don’t know what they are missing.

I’ve been making the trip to Wildwood for at least the past two decades, first with my dear friend, the late Judge James Farris, then for the past several years with my youngest son, Grayson. More often than not, we’ve gotten paired with another father and son duo, and we always walk away looking forward to next year.

The Old Glory, as its named suggests, is a flag-themed event, right down to all 18 pin flags being replicas of the Stars and Stripes. Grayson and I were lucky enough to be standing on the first tee Saturday when Wildwood’s Fourth of July parade made its way past the golf course. With flags flying on a fire truck, and numerous flag-decorated golf carts carrying seniors, kids and dogs, it was quite a spectacle.

What makes playing in the tournament so much fun is the hospitality you encounter. It’s a team effort on the part of the Wildwood community, with numerous volunteers putting in long hours working the scoreboard, check-in station and hospitality carts.

As is nearly always the case, head pro Richard Cockrell and his staff had the course in terrific shape for what was a full field of 110 two-man teams. We were able to play the ball down without a problem, the greens were smooth and true and, somehow, on a storm-filled weekend there were no rain delays.

Among the highlights for me was seeing old friend Roy Saatzer, who looks amazingly fit for a guy 82-years old. The long-time city of Port Arthur employee, and football and basketball official, moved to Wildwood after retiring in the early ‘90s and pretty much plays golf on any day ending in Y. Proof that he can still play well came from a birdie on Wildwood’s rugged 188-yard, par 3, 8th.

One of the regulars in the Old Glory, is Groves’ Dennis Walsh. Anybody who plays golf in this area knows the former United States Public Links champ is one of the best to ever tee it up in Southeast Texas. That he’s a regular at the Old Glory says something about the golf course and the event.

As always, Dennis managed to one-up me. He and his partner shot a closing 64 to finish as part of a four-way tie for first place at 136 in Second Flight. Grayson and I, who led after the first day with a 68, also finished in the four-way deadlock.

Dennis edged us for second place on the fourth hole of a scorecard playoff. That leaves me 0-for-forever against him.

T.J. Lingle and Braden Riley were this year’s Championship Flight winners, posting a 36-hole score of 125 in a format that featured two-man best ball on Saturday, followed by two-man scramble on Sunday.

Other winners were Jarrod Walton-Robert Corbello (129 in First Flight), Ryan Perkins-Randy Herbst (136 in Second Flight), Cullen Williams-Jess Connor (137 in Third Flight), Mark Kirby-Jay Crawford (143 in Fourth Flight), Todd Paine-Larry Paine (144 in Fifth Flight), Avery LeBlanc-Frank LeBlanc (160 in Sixth Flight) and Rodney Owen-Kathy Owen (131 in the Senior Flight).

My closing thought on the Old Glory is that I’ve played in scores of tournaments all over the country, some of them on America’s best courses. But I’ve rarely had more fun in a tournament anywhere than I do on the annual trek to Wildwood.

It’s something you might want to check out. Be advised, however, that getting in is not easy because of the high return rate. Meanwhile, if you’ve never played the golf course, it’s worth making the trip up Hwy. 69. The rates are terrific and, as mentioned earlier, the course is in excellent shape for this time of year.

CHIP SHOTS: Jim Huebel of Groves scored his third hole-in-one last Saturday at Babe Zaharias. Huebel sank a 5-iron tee shot in the 177-yard, 12th hole. The shot was witnessed by Brent Guidry, Aaron Rodgers and Dan Bellow . . . Corbin Cormier won Boys 16-18 Monday in the Southern Texas PGA Junior Tour stop at Henry Homberg Golf Club, but needed a birdie on the second hole of sudden death to get past Drake Mosely. Both players shot 76. Other flight winners include Tyler Ford (74 in Boys 13-15), Peyton Weems (85 in Boys 10-12), Michelle Crosswell-Karam (83 in Girls 16-18) and Karlei Hemler (76 in Girls 13-15) . . . None the worse for the heat-related problems that led him to withdraw during the second round of last week’s AT&T National near Washington D.C., Chris Stroud is in the field for this week’s Greenbrier Classic. After not playing on the weekend, Stroud dropped from 67th to 72nd in Fed Ex Cup points. He needs to climb back into the top 70 to gain entry to the Aug. 9-12 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. How he fares this week will likely determine whether Stroud plays next week at the John Deere Classic . . . The team of Butch Cross, Bill Hanley, Bob Moore and Maurice Ross finished 21&9 to win the Babe Zaharias DogFight. There was a five-way tie for second place. Closest to the pin winners were Bob Moore (No. 2), Cody Metts (No. 7), Jeff Rinehart (No. 12) and Eddie Delk (No. 15) . . . The Seniors at The Babe was played in a team points format. Finishing first at plus 10 was the foursome of Dennis Frazier, Harrell Guidry, Larry Foster and Ken Favre. Second at plus 7 was the team of Adam Noel, Roger Baumer, Ted Estes and Tom Hatcher. Third at plus six was the team of Larry Morris, Paul Duplantis, Mike Hess and Robert Lynch. Closest to the pin winners were Lynch (No. 2), Charlie Huckaby (No. 7, Bill Fears (No. 12) and Larry Foster (No. 15) . . . Bill Taylor finished plus 10 to win the Monday Seniors at Belle Oaks. Wally Istre was second at plus 5, followed by Ron Somerville at plus 4. Taylor also won closest to the pin on No. 15 . . . In the Friday Seniors at Belle Oaks, Gene Jones won with plus 8. Jim Brown was second at plus 5 and Rufus Mier third at plus 1. Norm Shannon won closest to the pin on No. 15.