The Saturday dawned cool and calm, just what the nine competitors were hoping for. They knew that once on the first tee box things would start heating up. The Army team was loaded with talent: Tom Ross, Nick Whitehead, Jim Hamilton, Ed Pawliczek, Howard Dickey, Gary Sorensen and Gary Swartz. Norm Wight represented the Navy and Bob Whaley was the lone Marine Corps representative.
There was a mood of awe as 83-year-old Gary Sorensen approached the first tee; other golfers gave these WMMOA guys a wide berth. All of these guys looked like senior citizens! This tournament would be played in a foursome and a fivesome and yet there was not a peep of protest from the gallery.
At the crack of the first drive the match was on. There was a light smell of Bengay on the breeze. Hamilton and Swartz set the early pace with a double bogey, bogey and par over the first three holes. The fourth hole was the long drive hole; Nick Whitehead, the young lion of the group, smoked the field with a massive drive right down the middle. Whitehead was long off the tee but his short game kept everyone else in play. Swartz extended his lead to three strokes after solid play on hole number four and a par three on hole number five. Hamilton, Sorensen and Pawliczek loomed three strokes back with four holes to play. Whitehead’s par four on the difficult hole number six temporarily moved him into the lead. The duffers stumbled on the long par three seventh hole and the last chance to win the closest to the pin prize. There were five bogies but not one of the golfers hit the green on any of the three par threes; the group was 0 for 27!
With two holes to go Swartz had a one stroke lead over Sorensen and a two-stroke buffer over Hamilton. With victory within his grasp, Swartz faltered and was passed by the two elder gentlemen. Sorensen, a previous winner of this event posted a 49 to edge Hamilton by one stroke and Swartz by two.
It was time for a beer and a burger and to hand out the prizes. Nick Whitehead won the long drive with what seemed to be a 300 yard drive. While there was no closest to the pin winner, Howard Dickey sunk a 27 foot putt to win longest putt. As special award for classiest dresser went to Jim Hamilton for his Scottish garb.
The challenges are already flying around in preparation of next year’s championship.