Watched by hundreds of spectators but focused on success, Jamie Coulter and partner Chris Bigelow had a nervous flirtation with the lake behind the North Course No. 9 green Saturday at The Valley Club in Hailey. It was crunch time in the biggest tournament of the club’s season.
They needed Bigelow’s clutch shot out of trouble to steady the ship. Two putts later, their score of 5 secured the victory in the alternate shot “Moose Rut” shootout. And they embraced the water by diving together into the lake in what has become a tradition for the champs.
Bigelow and Valley Club member Coulter comprised one of two twosomes making it all the way to the championship hole of the club’s 25th annual “Moose Madness” meet.
The men’s Member-Guest golf tournament was an eagerly awaited three-day test of nerves, teamwork and shot-making in the 90-degree heat.
Their worthy opponents on the final hole of the 142-player tournament were Valley Club member Richard Brown and partner Hughes Brown. The best score on the final hole would nail down the win, since both twosomes were playing evenly, without benefit of a handicap stroke.
Bigelow, playing out of Sun Valley Golf Club, drove into the left rough on the 385-yard par 4 finishing hole. Coulter grabbed his 5-iron and got all of his adrenaline-powered second shot from 195 yards out.
His ball flew over the flagstick, bounced off the back of the green, rolled down a hill and ended up inches short of the water in the lake. Fortunately, it was a playable lie.
When Bigelow took out his chipping club and looked up the steep hill, he couldn’t see the pin for the team’s third shot. Was it an impossible rescue to get close enough to the hole for a clean putt at par? Most of the spectators thought so.
Bigelow was grateful for what he had.
“The ball was 2 inches from the water, but I had enough footing,” he said. “I couldn’t see the pin, but it was really easy to get up in the air.”
His third lofted shot landed softly enough on the green that the ball came to rest just 18 feet below the hole. Murmurs of “great shot” and “clutch” rippled through the amazed gallery as they surveyed the downhill slope of the long, elongated green.
Meanwhile, Richard Brown’s second iron shot had arrived nicely just shy of the front of the green, but the Browns faced putting challenges—putting first uphill, then down.
Coulter’s par putt missed by 2 feet, but Bigelow finished the bogey with the winning putt—as the Browns settled for a double.
Jaime Sharp, PGA, Valley Club Director of Golf and Moose Race announcer, gave credit to both teams in the finishing group.
“They never gave up all the way, even after having an out-of-bounds on the second hole (of the five-hole “Moose Rut),” Sharp said of the Browns.
The Valley Club’s 45-hole Men’s Member-Guest golf tourney featured 71 twosomes, with winners of the 12 flights advancing to Saturday’s five-hole “Moose Rut” elimination that determined the overall champions.
Five teams were eliminated on the first hole of the “Moose Rut,” which was South Course No. 9, and then two more teams were sidelined on the North Course No. 1 and No. 2 holes, and one more team on North No. 8.
The third-place team consisted of Valley Club member Daniel Hollis and guest Adam Quarles.
Practice round, Par 3 results
“Moose Madness” opened with optional practice round games, formatted as best ball, net, of twosome:
Tee 2 Division (24 teams): 1 (tie)—James Kanellitsas and Hanley Dawson IV: 60 strokes ($864); Richard Brown and Hughes Brown: 60 ($864). 3—Jon Verhaeghe and Perry Chappell: 62 ($432).
Tee 3 Division (13 teams): 1 (tie)—Doyle Rundell and Will Fruehling: 62 ($540); Chris Stephens and Chet Stephens: 62 ($540). 3—James Magee and George Smith: 64 ($234).
Tee 4 Division: 1—Glen Shapiro and Forrest Lebaron: 64 ($315). 2—Tift Mann and Dan Rizzo: 66 ($189). 3—Lou Mace and Sid Mace: 67 ($126).
There was also a Par 3 Challenge for 29 twosomes during the week. Results follow for the top six duos:
1—William Bush and Buck Worthing: 26 points ($550). 2—Gary Morgan and Foster Lund: 27.5 ($455). 3—Tim Ryan and Bob Wosneski: 28 ($330). 4 (tie)—Todd Baur and Wortie Ferrell: 28.5 ($190); Jeff Rust and Mike Abaid: 28.5 ($190). 6—Jack Dies and Baird Gourlay: 29.5 ($110).
Here are final point totals of the 12 flights (1st and 2nd places listed) in the one net best ball of the team, using a point system for round-robin play Thursday through Saturday (Valley Club member listed first):
Wade Hampton (North Carolina): 1—Kurt Funkhouser and Heath Tagtmeyer, 28. 2—Marshall Rule and Robert Vincent, 25.
Shadow Creek (Nevada): 1—Daniel Hollis and Adam Quarles, 31. 2—Lloyd Dyer and Chuck Nichols, 27.5.
Victoria National (Indiana): 1—James Everitt and George Nichols, 26.5. 2—Todd Baur and Wortie Ferrell, 25.5.
Butler National (Illinois): 1—Jamie Coulter and Chris Bigelow, 25.5. 2—Kurt Houtkooper and Patrick Hubbard, 25.
Flint Hills (Kansas): 1—Richard Brown and Hughes Brown, 28. 2—Jon Verhaeghe and Perry Chappell, 24.
Sand Ridge (Ohio): 1—John Kanellitsas and Peter Ryan, 29.5. 2—Steven Rose and Jon-Paul Praisler, 25.
Quarry (California): 1—Chris Stephens and Chet Stephens, 27.5. 2—Doyle Rundell and Will Fruehling, 27.
Dallas National (Texas): 1—Paul Kenny and Matt Gelso, 25.5. 2—Bob Cook and Dale Walker, 25.
Estancia (Arizona): 1—Gary Morgan and Foster Lund, 30.5. 2—Richard St. Clair and Jerry Hong, 25.
Sage Valley (South Carolina): 1—Dick Toomey and Jim Toomey, 28. 2—Glen Shapiro and Forrest Lebaron, 25.5.
Preserve (California): 1—John Ashton and Harry Burn, 26.5. 2—Conor Quinn and Maunsel Hickey, 25.5.
Hudson National (New York): 1—Blair Hull and Jim Lodas, 27.5.