Sports Stories

During a typical round of golf, the type of shot players must make vary depending on the distance from the pin, obstacles and hazards, and the lay of the ball after the previous shot.

While no leprechauns were present, a group of 40 golfers put their short game to the test at Canyon Mesa Country Club’s St. Patrick’s Day Challenge on Friday, March 17.

The round of nine holes was played in atypical fashion, with the tee locations in challenging spots in and around the roughs and fairways at a somewhat close distance to the greens.

“The setup and everything was for shooting real touch, fine stuff,” said Gary Clements, a St. Paul, Minn., native. “Shots you just don’t normally get to play, and that made it real challenging.”

Willie Darke, director of golf at Canyon Mesa, arranged obscure and challenging spots where each hole began, all geared toward a player’s short game; the longest distance from the hole was 93 yards.

For example, at the first hole, the ball was to be played just in front of a low-hanging tree branch but 46 yards from the pin. This forced participants to shoot a low shot, but not too strong that it would go past the green.

At the second hole, players had to pitch over a hump from 39 yards out. Clements, a first-time participant, was feeling the luck of the Irish as he sank a hole-in-one at the second.

He and 39 others made up a full field who played in a two-person scramble format, meaning that the pairs played off of the “best ball,” or the most favorable location out of the duo’s first shots.

“Everyone enjoyed the format and everyone had a good time,” Darke said. “The scores were really close, and that always makes for a good day.”

There was a $10 prize for the shot closest to the pin from 93 yards out at the fourth hole as well.

“I worked on my weaknesses,” said Arlend Avril, a Canyon Mesa Townhouse Association owner, with a laugh.

It was the fourth year Darke has run the event at Canyon Mesa, and the 12th overall.

“Willie does a good job coming up with tournaments for us that are interesting,” said Wendell Verploeg, a Michigan native.

Verploeg mentioned his favorite part was the format, forcing him and Clements to push each other to do better and helped form friendships.


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