MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. — After nearly a week of soggy North Carolina rain storms, the golf gods parted the clouds and allowed two days of sunshine for the Commander’s Cup Golf Tournament at Cherry Point’s Sound of Freedom Golf Course, Sept. 8-9.
More than 150 participating golfers, ranging from hacking first-timers to seasoned pin seekers, evenly split into four-player handicapped teams before putting and driving their Titleists and Callaways for more than $7,700 in prizes in the 24th annual best-ball format tournament.
Longest drive and closest to the pin contests were also on the line throughout many of the course’s 18 tree-skirted, ball-eating holes.
The par 72 course played like a sponge on the fairway, but rolled true on the green.
“Our maintenance crew has done a phenomenal job with the condition of the course given the circumstances they’ve had over the last 12 to 14 days,” said Jim Ferree, course golf pro and primary organizer of the tournament.
By sinking one of the tournament’s lone Eagles on Saturday and stringing nine birdies in a row on Sunday, accuracy and consistency paved the way for the weekend’s winning team, which shot a combined 20 under par.
“It was a long time coming,” said Rick Geslain Sr., upon receiving the Commander’s Cup on behalf of his team at a banquet afterward. It was Geslain’s second time being on the tournament’s winning team, his last trophy claimed more than 10 years ago.
Joining his foursome were Roger Haas, Ed Easter, and Linda Biggs, all of whom had never played a round together until Saturday.
“It’s all about which team gels together and gets hot at the right time,” said Russell Davis, whose team led at 11 under par after Saturday’s round.
When a team plays to their strengths and knows their weaknesses, they typically prevail in this type of tournament, said Ferree.
With its best-ball format scores also improve considering each of the four players gets a swing at every shot.
“There was a lot of excitement out there,” Ferree added. “We have some guys that are blood and guts competitive, and we’ve got some that just want to play golf with their buddies and enjoy it.”
The tournament’s host and commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Col. Philip J. Zimmerman, said while at times frustratingly fun, the beauty of golf is it is a sport a person can play well into their golden years.
“A lot of these people have been playing golf all their lives, are retired and like to go to events like this,” he said. “I’m glad we’re able to provide a good one.”
Matching his first name with his game, Zimmerman did his best Phil Mickelson impersonation as one of only a few southpaws on the course.
Closing in on the tournament’s 25th anniversary, golfers are sure to set a tee time to return next year to smack the ball around with some new and old golf buddies in another quest for the Commander’s Cup.
“It’s something I look forward to every year,” said Davis.
A full list of scores from the tournament can be found at http://bit.ly/Nm22qb for Saturday and at http://bit.ly/P9xx59 for Sunday.