Blazer Tournament History
The first PMGA Blazer Tournament was played in 1995 and was the brainchild of Dick Nye, an early member. He and Dick Skrei introduced the tournament at Little Turtle Country Club in Columbus, Ohio and it was very successful there. It was a two-man team, match play tournament and the winners were presented with a blazer jacket. The runner-up team received a trophy. It was initiated as a prestigious tournament for Pinewild with a blazer jacket and medallion awarded to each winner. The tournament was popular from the beginning and a good majority of the club participated in the early years. One-half the field is eliminated in the first round and it takes 6 wins to be awarded the much sought after Tan Blazer Jacket. We are not sure how the color was chosen, but believe it was selected from the available colors from a local men’s store that has since closed.
Dick Nye was the tournament chairman for the first three years and supervised the final match each of those years. Subsequent chairmen of the tournament have always supervised the final match and there is usually a supply of beer and soft drinks, supplied out of the PMGA Blazer budget, for those spectators who come out to the final match to support their fellow friends and competitors. In 2001 there was controversy regarding the jacket color and the Blazer winners met and recommended to the PMGA Board that the traditional light tan jacket be retained as the standard for the sake of tradition.
The inaugural Blazer tournament in 1995 was won by Paul Kauffman and Allen Karch who bested Joe Lipka and Star Braisted. In the early years, the field was made up by random drawing and it was not until 2004 that the format was changed to start the competition in flights and the flight winners were awarded trophies.
In 1996, Ron Davis and Frank McTague beat Walt Schramm and Franklin Ward in front of quite a few spectators. Paul Kauffman came to Frank and Ron after the final match and said: “You guys have joined an exclusive club and Allen and I want to challenge you to a match next week to determine if you are really the winners”. It was decided to play a best of 7 series and the losers were to buy dinner and the winners the wine and of course the wives were included. Frank and Ron won that first contest and thus the Champion of Champions tournament was born which is a Blazer Tournament tradition. Today because there are so many players it is no longer a best of 7 series.
Another Blazer Tradition is the annual cocktail party normally held at a previous winner’s home followed by dinner at a local restaurant with their wives. The Champion of Champions tournament has always been limited to former Blazer team winners but as players have moved, become incapacitated or died, some remaining individual team members have joined forces and competed but the rule of being a previous Blazer winner to compete still stands. This dinner was changed to a stag affair in 2011 at the Pinewild CC after the golf outing.
In 1997 Allen Karch introduced the Dime and Pin (pronounced Diamond Pin) award which is given to the winners of the Blazer Champion of Champions tournament at the annual dinner and these pins are especially prized by the winners of that year’s tournament. This award was discontinued in 2011.
History assembled by Ron Davis, Introduction edited by Paul Jones
SOME BLAZER TOURNAMENT FACTS:
Blazer Tournament Winners with handicap at time of win:
1995 Paul Kauffman (17) Allen Karch (20)
1996 Ron Davis (22) Frank McTague (17)
1997 OB Adams (21) Norm Elliott (12)
1998 Jay Norris (12) Al Reeder (21)
1999 John Huizenga (25) Jack Lund (9)
2000 Jay Norris (14) Al Reeder (21)
2001 Gene Casnellie (22) Jim Young (14)
2002 Bruce Engelking (17) Dick Mack (17)
2003 Howie Beers (19) Fred Healy (13)
2004 Ron Davis (23) G Frank McTague (21) G
2005 Don Johnston (12) Mike Skrabak (8)
2006 Paul Jones (11) Frank Rezeli (7)
2007 Dick Horky (9) Mike Weisser (15)
2008 Mike Tencza (8) Leon D’Onle (14)
2009 Ed Stipe (21) G Frank Grimone (25)
2010 Bob Watt (10) Brian Stevens (10)
2011 Jim Young (15) G Gene Casnellie (16) G
2012 Spike Billings (11) Pat Mastandrea (17)
2013 Ed Rackowski (10) G Austin Sweet (14) G
2014 Tim Donahue (16) Kevin Carroll (17)
2015 Scott Parker (9) G Wayne Rhone (13) G
2016 Miles Baldwin (8)W Jim Slate (7)W
2017 Jim Young (20) G Gene Casnellie (28) G
2018 Paul Jones (16) G George Watterworth (16) G
Blazer Tournament Runner-ups:
1995 Star Braisted Joe Lipka
1996 Walt Schramm Franklin Ward
1997 Austin Sweet Jim StMarie
1998 John Casey Bill Graning
1999 Bill Revenaugh Leo Zande
2000 Lin Higgins Jim McMahon
2001 Ron Davis George Paskiewicz
2002 Spike Billings Clayton Clark
2003 Brian Downing David Meyer
2004 Bob Blandford Dick Skrei
2005 Bill Bower Tom Jones
2006 Gene Casnellie Jim Young
2007 Dick Derleth Pete Nehlsen
2008 Rick Dicamillo Doug Aitken
2009 Bill Pozdol Dwight Pike
2010 Gary Krasicky Art Lannon
2011 Jim Moon Dick Horky
2012 Bill Kennedy Ron Cherep
2013 Jim Moon (3) Dennis Fogle (8)
2014 Jim Moon (5) Dennis Fogle (8)
2015 Ron Skanderson (6) Frosty Berg (10)
2016 Scott Parker (10) G Wayne Rhone (12)G
2017 Scott Parker Gold (10) G Wayne Rhone (15) G
2018 Jim Slate (10) W Miles Baldwin (13) G
Blazer Tournament Chairmen:
1995 Dick Nye
1996 Dick Nye
1997 Dick Nye
1998 Bill Graning
1999 Pat Mastandrea
2000 Greg Thompson
2001 Terry McSweeney
2002 Al Reeder, Ron Davis
2003 Dick Mack, Bruce Engelking
2004 Paul Kauffman
2005 Jim McMahon
2006 Ken Pitzer
2007 Paul Jones
2008 Mike Weisser
2009 Mike Weisser
2010 Norm Elliott, Fred Healey
2011 Fred Healy
2012 Fred Healy
2013 Pat Mastandrea
2014 Jim Moon
2015 Tim Donahue
2016 Wayne Rhone
2017 Miles Baldwin, Jim Slate
2018 Frank Bishop, Walt Blackwell
2019 George Watterworth, Paul Jones
Comments from some of the winners:
Paul Kauffman: “The highlight of 1995 was when we played Joe Lipka and Star Braisted in the final match. Standing on the 18th tee we were dead even. The pressure got to Joe and Allen as both visited the water. Star and I were about 100 yards from the green in two and our third shots both found the bunker in back of the green. Star played first and hit a pretty good sand wedge to maybe 10 feet. I had my wedge and my putter in hand and finally decided to putt out of the trap to the pin which was in front. By some stroke of luck, my ball ended up about 3 feet from the cup. Again Star putted first and holed his second putt giving him a bogie. I made the 3-footer and the rest is history. In the years that have passed, I have never had a longer 3-foot putt to such a small hole as I did that day.”
Jay Norris: “I cannot recall any one specific notable event, but for me the most significant memory was meeting Al Reeder for the first time & becoming lifelong friends. This combined with playing with the other Blazer winners and getting to know them better is what has made the tournament special for me.”
Al Reeder: “I doubt if anyone enters the Blazer tournament with the grand thought of winning it. To win six matches in a row without losing one is a feat beyond most expectations. Then one by one you keep winning because when you have a bad hole, your partner is right there; and when he has a bad one, you seem to come through. I do know that many people play better under pressure and that was the case with Jay Norris and me, my partner and friend. Never did we run away with any matches, and with many they were won on extra holes, and that made it even sweeter.”
“Like all Blazer winners, I have memories of some great shots that won the hole or the tournament, but to describe them here seems to lose the luster as I remember them, and that is the memory that I want to carry with me for the rest of my life.
Long after forgetting that missed putt or that wayward tee shot is the real mystique of the Blazer tournament. The close fellowship you develop with your partner and the camaraderie of the competition with the competitors. This is what the Blazer tournament is all about.”
Dick Mack: “Beating Spike’s team was a definite highlight for us as they were such a great team and certainly the favorites in our final match. Bruce Engelking and I just had a good time and everything came together. It was one of those very few magic times in golf.”
Norm Elliott: “The most memorable event that occurred in our winning event was:
OB and I were playing Austin Sweet and Jim St Marie in the last match. We had gotten to 15 on the Magnolia with the match close. (Maybe OB and I were ahead by one). OB teed off into the sand trap 20 yards short of the green. The other balls were on or near the green. OB is away and is the first to play. He gets out of the trap with a chip, the ball goes on the green and rolls into the cup for a 2. The remaining holes were even and OB and Norm won by two.”
Fred Healy: “I remember that Dick Mack and Bruce Engelking had won the previous year and they were out there with us on the day of the final match. Their cart was provided with a cooler filled with beverages, and all who were there… playing or watching…. had access to the cooler.
Quite a few people followed the match, which surprised me. I had thought we’d be out there alone like in the other matches. All of them were there rooting for our opponents, Brian Downing and Dave Meyer. I remember the applause and enthusiasm for their team, and thought it was quite nice that their wives and friends supported them.
They moved to a lead of two up with two to play, and I believe they both got shots from me on #17, so Howie and I needed to win the last two holes to extend the match. I was on in two, but about 50 feet from the hole. I don’t remember the exact sequence, but I do know that either or both of them scored fives on the hole, so with the strokes they got, they recorded a net four. My putt was not only long, but had quite a bit of break also. I thought we were dead, but somehow the putt managed to go in, and we won the hole to go to one back with one to go. There are recollections of someone applauding the putt, which I have always thought was a wonderful show of sportsmanship. A couple of years later, Brian said to my wife that he still had bad dreams about that putt going in. I had a five on #18 to win that hole, although I thought we’d halved the hole because of strokes. I went to shake hands and congratulate them, but was told that we had tied it up. So, we went to hole #1 for the first playoff hole. My recollection is that Dave, Brian and Howie were all on in four, and I was on in three…. Brian, Dave and I each about 15 feet from the hole, Howie about 40 feet away. The hole was on the front plateau and Howie had hit to the upper plateau. Well, Howie hit his putt just perfectly, it rolled down the hill and plopped right into the hole for a net four. It wasn’t over, since Dave and Brian still had a chance to match Howie, but each of their putts narrowly missed; I believe they both rimmed the cup and spun out. My details may be a little fuzzy, but the overall scenario is accurate.”
“Not specific to the year we won, I recall a team that was always so tough to compete with. I mean with their game, and certainly not the personalities. These two fellows played from the gold tees, but could still get the ball out there. They played great together. if one had a bad hole, the other always seemed to be having a good one. They got lots of strokes from me, so that made it doubly tough. And, when we played them, they always seemed to be so good around and on the green, sinking putts that would make any pro on tour proud. Their names: …………Ron Davis and Frank McTague.”
John Huizenga: “I have little memory of our 1999 matches; however, I think my handicap was approximately 25. I have the vague recollection of making a par on my home hole (17th of Magnolia) to win the final game by hitting a chip shot a foot from the hole. I cannot remember the team we (Jack Lund and I) were playing.” (How quickly we forget—for the record John and Jack played against Leo Zande and Bill Revenaugh.)
Frank Rezeli: “In 2006 the front nine of the Magnolia was closed for renovation so for the first time in Blazer history the tournament was not played exclusively on the Magnolia course. All matches were played on the back nine of the Magnolia and on one of the Holly nines. The most exciting match for me was not the final, but one of our third flight matches against the team of Bernie Schultz and Dan Corgan. The match was played at a very high level and was close all the way. It was interrupted by rain after nine holes and had to be continued a couple of days later. Paul Jones and I had a 1up lead going into our 18th hole (#9 on the Holly), but Dan Corgan birdied the hole to extend the match. We went to the front nine of the Holly and the first hole was halved with pars, and the second hole halved with birdies. The match finally ended on the 3rd hole, when I made another birdie from 20 feet. So the final 4 holes of the match produced 4 birdies, 2 by each team.”
Paul Jones: I agree that the best match we had in ’06 was with Bernie Schultz and Dan Corgan. Both Frank and Bernie played great golf that day and although Dan came up big on the 18th hole he and I were primarily along for the ride. Frank was a few over par and Bernie later told me that it was the best match he had ever played and yet he lost. Bernie shot even par for 18 holes and birdied one of the last 3 sudden-death holes. Fortunately for us Frank birdied two of the last three holes and the difference was one putt that somehow went in. How close is that? It was tough for them to lose but we were on our way to the play-offs. Sorry Bernie and Dan. Our first two play-off matches were extremely close as we won both of them on the 18th hole and Frank and I looked forward to our final against two former winners, Gene Casnellie and Jim Young. I felt calm as we headed to our first hole but had an inkling that I was nervous when I drop-kicked my drive off the 10th tee of the Magnolia. Fortunately, the Blazer is a two-man event and Frank started out strong. My nerve or choke problem lasted for about 6 holes but after that the adrenalin kicked in and I began to hit some decent shots and was able to enjoy the match. In fact, on the back nine of the Holly, as the crowd gathered, I could not wait to get to the ball and hit my next shot. Frank carried the front and I came to life on the back and we won the match on the 16th hole. What a good feeling! We had won the Blazer and that night Frank, Kathy, Carol and I celebrated our hard fought victories at Basil’s. It wasn’t one match, it wasn’t just the final, it was all six of the matches that made up our Blazer victory. We had competed against six very good teams and were fortunate enough to have come out on top. I am proud of the effort that we made that year and will never forget the toughness of our fellow competitors and the sportsmanship that was shown to us in the matches.
Jim Young: “The year Gene and I won, we really thought we were toast. We were playing the perennial winners, the team of Davis and McTague, feared by all. Somehow we survived through 16, but on the 17th were still one down. The Davis/McTague team, laden with strokes and playing from the sissy girlie man tees, were in the hole for 5, net 4. Gene was out of the hole, and I had a downhill 20-foot putt with a 3-foot break for a 4, which would allow us to play another hole. Somehow the putt went in, and we went to 18. By now, the seemingly invincible Davis/McTague team, which had been practicing their handshake and “nice try, guys” speech until that putt went in, were clearly outmatched both physically and psychologically. Never screw with an Army Airborne soldier and an international banker.
On 18 they both made big numbers and we went to extra holes. The first was halved, and on the second, Gene hit his 2nd shot so far into the woods that we were really surprised a bear didn’t get him. I made 5, the Davis/McTague guys made 6, which of course matched my 5 since once again they both had strokes. Gene, whose ball is possibly not even in Moore County, hit a miraculous shot to get to the far fringe of the green, then hits a great long chip to about 6 feet. He has a stroke on this hole, and has gone from potentially “in hispocket” to a GREAT HERO. Suddenly it seems possible…can it be?
My magnificent partner calmly steps up to the ball and drains the putt for a 5. We win, Davis/McTague are saddened, stunned. With their advancing age we ask them if they need us to call for an ambulance or EMS. They take a deep breath, and are extraordinarily gracious in defeat, even asking if they could someday in the far future even buy us a beer. Gene and I are silent on the way back, thinking the same thoughts. “We are Blazer Champs; can you believe it? Hope we didn’t miss 24”.
Ron Davis Response: “Frank had to be in Florida when the Blazer started that year and Ron picked up George Paszkiewicz as a partner. I remember that 18th hole so very well. Gene and George had both been in the water. I was 30 yards out in front of the green in three. All I had to do was chip up, putt and win or tie with my stroke. Instead, I skulled the approach into the back trap and then returned the shot back across the green. Jim won the hole easily for the tie and then we went into over time and I was really down and mad at myself for screwing up that shot. It is amazing how our memories can change when recalling great moments. By the way, we were playing from the whites that year. Gold tees didn’t come into play until 2004. It is possible that Jim got a little emotional about his win, but that is the way it is. George and Ron were both awarded Blazer Runner Up trophies in 2001. Frank was a spectator.”
Jim Young’s Response: “Winners write the history. I stand by my story”
Dick Horky: The Blazer Tournament was both exciting and memorable for both Mike and me. We seemed to be perfectly matched in all matches. When Mike was down I was up and when I was down Mike came to the rescue. This was particularly true in the last match where Mike carried me for most of the day.
To me, though, the pivotal match was against Schnare and Moon. Before the match everyone had Richard and Jim to win because they are fierce competitors with low handicaps. That is, everybody but Mike and me. Early in the match, Mike and I went down 2 and were never in the lead until the 20th hole. When we went into extra holes, Mike said to me “I’ll take care of the 19th hole” (#10 on the Mag). Immediately after saying that he hooked his second shot out of bounds into Keener’s yard and he says to me “your hole.” I’m in the trees left but I hit my rescue club close to the green and got it up and down for par to tie the hole. Jim was not pleased at this point. On the next hole, I managed to again get my ball up and down, from out of the bunker, for par and with my stroke we were able to close out the match, 1up. Richard and Jim are claiming second place since they took us farther than anyone else.
Mike Weisser: If I have one overriding thought, it is that every match we played was competitive, fun and always with gentlemen.
Mike Tencza & Lee D’Onle: This event was very meaningful to both of us. It was our third time at this event and in each of the previous years we did a little better than the prior year. This year we believe we both learned the true meaning of the word “team” and thatit definitely has no “I” in it. When one of us slipped up a bit the other was always right there to pick up the slack almost 90% of the time. Our last two matches were very tough as we had to contend against prior winners Dick Horky and Mike Weisser …which only took 21 holes to finalize, and then we had to play Doug Aitkin and Richard DiCamillo. These two men are probably the nicest Pinewild players you could play against. They hit the T – Ball better than us (30yards +) and the greens were rolling like a pool table. We thought we were in serious trouble. Our goal was simply try to play with them as long as we could and just see what happens.. Well guess what!! We got really lucky (great putting) and then before you know it we closed them out on the 17th hole of the Mag. We looked at each other in almost total disbelief. This event is special because you get to play the great game of golf head to head against some fine gentlemen from Pinewild. It all has just a real good feel to it. We are very proud to be the newest members of the Blazer Group.
Frank Grimone & Ed Stipe: The Blazer Tournament had different meanings for Ed and me. Ihad been trying for 15 years (last two with Ed) and never got past the first round. We both agreed that this year we werejust going to go out and enjoy ourselves and not worry about the outcome. It worked. Whenever I had a bad hole it seemed like Ed would have a good one. Twomatches come to mind the most. The first one was the Flight Championship. We were playing Gruin and Keener. After 16 holes we were one down and Edmade a par on the 17th hole and we were tied. We tied the18thand went on to number 1 for the playoff. Both Nick and Dick found trouble and Ed and I hit great shots and won the hole and the match.
The other match was of course theBlazer Championship match against Pozdol and Pike. After the first nineholes and Pike shooting a 36 we were fortunate to be +1. Then disaster hit me on the 10th hole. Ithought Pozdol was in for a birdie after he made a very long putt and I picked my ball up. However,he had a par and I lost the hole for picking up. I must have been in a daze after that because I proceeded to par the 11th hole and we were again +1. Goinginto the 17th we were +2 and I proceeded to hit my drive out of bounds and Ed was on his own. He hit a great drive and an even greater second shot to be on in two and tied the hole to close them out and win the match.
We both remember how everyone we played was enjoyable to be with and greatcompetitors. I remember in the final round that Pike even teed the ball up for me a couple of times because I was so nervous I could not put the ball on the tee. That sportsmanship is seldom found in any round.
Bob Watt & Brian Stevens: We had a great match with Art Lannon and Gary Krasicky. It started on the first hole with Art sinking a 30-foot putt to tie the hole. There were a number of clutch putts including Gary’s birdie putt on the sixth hole and Brian’s par putt on the eleventh hole. The match continued back and forth with neither team ahead by more than one until the seventeenth hole. It was a classic match where neither team gave up nor each fought to the end.
Jim Young & Gene Casnellie: It is always fun to play the Blazer and Gene and I have been partners in this event for many years. We actually won in 2000 and were runner-ups the year Paul Jones and Frank Rezelli won. In 2011 we were clearly past our prime, aging but once great athletes, just trying to hang in there one more year.
We had some good matches along the way, and the one against Frank Grimone and Don Garrett we thought we were toast, 2 down on the 13th tee, and both Frank and Don stroked. We were able to win that hole when they both decided to check out the pond, and we made par to win the hole. From then on we got hot with the putters and won the match.
The final match was against Jim Moon and Dick Horky and they were great to play with. We joked a lot and had fun together. There was a big gallery. The match started on the back side of the Mag and was even until 13, which Gene won with a great chip, then we both made par on 14 to win when Jim Moon made his only bogey of the match. They won 17 and we won 18 so we were 2 up starting the front side. They won the 3rd hole when Gene and I both 3 putted and there was a lot of excitement building. We halved every hole until 6, which was our 15th hole, and we were still one up. Gene hit a great shot from the right fairway to a right pin, landing 9 feet from the hole. Jim Moon answered with an even better shot, 6 feet away. Dick Horky makes par, I am out of the hole. Gene calmly drains his putt for birdie and Jim lipped his out. This was the turning point…I pared the next 2 holes to close out the match.
Dick and Jim were great fun to play with and Jim especially played well; he was 1 over par through 17 holes. There are no losers in the Blazer Tournament, Gene and I were able to support each other, ham and egged it well, and were lucky to come out on top.
Regarding the girly man sissy tees, I pleaded with the authorities to let me play the Blues, or at least the Whites, but they were unrelenting. Of course I was 11 years younger when we last won, and the gold tees these days are not quite as girlie man sissy as they were then…
Spike Billings and PatMastandrea: We have been playing in the Blazer Tournament for eight years and we have won our flight a couple of times but have never gone all the way. This year we had to play our way into the bracket by beating Davison and Blandford on the 21st hole and then beating Rednour and Bell on the 20th hole. Our match against Tencza and D’Onle, who always made it enjoyable for keeping it light with wit and chatter no matter what the results were on a hole; win or lose; and finally we did gel as a “Ham and Egg” partnership for the year. The finals after six long months against Bill Kennedy and Ron Cherep just happened to be our day! We just couldn’t miss-winning on the 13th hole and the Blazers were ours.
Austin (Oz) Sweet &Ed Rackowski We had some great matches along the way to the Finals. The final match can best be described as a roller coaster ride. After halving the first 4 holes, Jim Moon and Denny Fogle played good golf for the rest of the front nine and were 5 up. I finally convinced Oz to have a beer on #10 and it turned the tide. We won our first hole of the match on #12, tied #13 and #14 to make Jim and Denny dormie on the 15th tee. Rack hit a good shot and made the birdie to keep us going. Oz made a great chip on #16 to win the hole with a net 4. Both teams played #17 poorly but we won with a 5. After Jim made a 15 foot birdie on #18, Oz followed him in with his birdie and a net 3 to even the match. The first two playoff holes were tied with a net birdie on #1 and a par on #2. After Jim & Denny missed the green on #3, Oz hit a great 5 iron to within a foot for a conceded winning birdie.
Our fondest recollection of the last hole was standing on the tee and seeing about 25 carts (we had lost quite a few when we were 5 down after #11) lined up beyond the green. The cheers for Oz’s shot were “Sweet” music to our ears. There were many comments about us coming back from being 5 down and 4 down on #15 – we couldn’t believe it either. Many thanks to all thosewho followed the match and cheered for both teams.
Tim Donahue & Kevin Carroll After a disastrous 2013 Blazer Tournament where we lost our first match 5 & 4 we were surprisingly very confident starting the 2014 tourney. Although our tournament golf experience was very limited we knew if we practiced and played together as a team we had a chance in 2014.
Three of our 4 matches went to the 17th green and the other match ended on 16. We thought we were ready for the pressure and intensity of the championship match, but we were wrong. Facing two outstanding golf competitors who had championship round experience, we finished the front nine all square. With good sized gallery follow the action, we made a couple of key putts and accurate shots and managed to pull ahead by 2 over the next 5 holes. Standing on the tee at 17 we just wanted to end it all there. We both hit tee shots that landed in the fairway bunker on the left and bounced out. At this point we figured it was our lucky day. A bogey, net par on 17 gave us the win.
With a sigh of relief, we headed right to the beer cart grateful for the win and thankful that we didn’t have to play 18.
Scott Parker & Wayne Rhone We were very fortunate in every match that one or the other of us had a hot day with the “flatstick”. After we realized we would play Ron Skanderson and Frosty Berg, we looked forward to the final match. The two of us and Ron play in a Monday group and do not hold back when giving each other a hard time. Frosty, Wayne and I are on the PMGA Board together and have certainly never held back regarding the occasional barb required to keep things loose during our monthly meetings. The match was very amicable with many congratulatory comments being made for good shots and great scores by hole. Our only regret was there could not be two winners since these gentlemen are as deserving as us with only a putt coming up short on a hole or two. Before we go further I would like to thank Tim Donahue for his efforts and guidance toward chairing the Blazer Tournament for the 2015 season. His oversight has made this a very enjoyable experience and he even manned the beverage cart for the day. What a leader!
Speaking of beverage carts, it was obvious I could have used a beverage after the first three holes when Wayne was wondering if he had a partner for the day. After Frosty’s birdie on number two of the Mag we went down one. Then following Frosty’s approach shot on number three it appeared that we would be down two but we came away with just a one-hole deficit. The match went back and forth for the remainder of the front nine with some great shots from both groups. Finally, on number ten Wayne sunk a putt from 15 feet for a net birdie and we went one up. For the next three holes we were able to increase our lead to four up. Then came number fourteen and watch out for the “Grand Pooh-Pah” Skanderson as he buried his birdie putt and then followed it up on number fifteen with another one. Two up and three to go…never let ‘em see ya sweat! On sixteen we got away with a halve as Ron’s putt just slipped by the hole. After tee shots on seventeen Frosty and Wayne were on in regulation. Wayne made a great two putt from 30 feet to tie Frosty’s par and the match was over. Off to the beverage cart and on to the club house for lunch.
It was an enjoyable experience with many fond memories as we look forward to joining this prestigious club of previous year’s winners for cocktails and dinner later this year. To all who participated in this year’s Blazer Tournament we want to thank you for your participation, comradery, and sportsmanship. To those who may be thinking of participating next year, please give it serious consideration because we think you will find it both fun and rewarding. And by the way, Blazers come in all sizes and we can tailor one to fit you!
Jim Moon comments: I was able to watch most of the Blazer match today. I was really surprised at how fiercely this match was played and how competitive it was. I saw great shot after great shot only to be countered by a matching great shot. You would have had to been introduced to Frosty as he has lost 50 lbs. and looks very good. Scott and Wayne eventually prevailed and closed out this match on hole 17. It was really one for the ages. It looked as though the match was over after 13 holes, but then Ron Skanderson sank two birdies in a row. Game on. The challengers had two makeable birdies on the final two holes, but a stiff-arm was thrown out by the champs when Wayne’s second shot on 17 found the green and was followed by a great first putt within a foot. Game over.
It has given Denny and me a new look and perhaps maybe, we will try again next year.
Jim Slate comments: I’m always apprehensive going into a match especially when giving up a few strokes to good players. Scott and Wayne proved they are formidable together by winning last year. We were in a tight match – one up after 7. Then I drive out of bounds on 8 and Miles comes through reaching the par 5 in two. Two putts later, we were up two. On 9 I hit one in close and made the putt – 3 up at the turn. There were 5 birdies or net birdies on the front side – 2 by Scott and Wayne, and we had 3. Both teams had pars on 10 and 11, but Scott’s was a net birdie on 11, cutting the lead to 2. Miles birdied 12 and I birdied 13, putting us up by 4. On 14 Scott made a great par save, and when Miles rolled in a birdie, the match was suddenly over.
Having Tim Donahue and Ron Davis following us each step of the way made me feel I was part of something bigger than just our match. We were continuing a long-standing Pinewild tradition. It was a good feeling knowing that next year, and the years after, more men will be where we were – carrying on this tradition – playing a game we all love, with our good friends and neighbors.
Miles Baldwin: This is the first time I had made the finals in the Blazer and first time paired with Jim Slate. I knew from the first few matches we played that we were well matched and covered each other very well. However, it is always daunting when you know you are giving strokes to the opposition. We started off well with pars but when Scott hit his second shot on hole #2 to 15” for a gimmie birdie I knew we were in for a match! On hole #4 we eked out the lead with a par after some first aid to an elderly homeowner across from the green who had fallen and could not get up. Jim and I were lucky enough to birdie back to back holes to make the turn two up. Scott managed to take a hole back from us using one of his handicap strokes on #11 but we were lucky to share birdies from there to close out the match. Fortunate for us it was “one of those days” when you have your best game. The competition and sportsmanship were excellent and Tim Donahue and Ron Davis following our match made it special. The few other PMGA members who came out to watch us play made it seem more special as well.
Jim Young: The 2017 Blazer finals were a real classic, Scott Parker and Wayne Rhone against Jim Young and Gene Casnellie. The first 8 holes were halved, with Scott and Wayne outplaying us, but we were able to get up and down and make some good halves to stay even through 8. On the 9th hole Scott made a superb birdie with a downhill 20 footer to win the hole and take a one up lead at the turn. On 13 Scott had another birdie and they went up 2. On 14 Scott was in the bunker and I was on in 2 with a 25 footer. He came out to a foot for a gimmie par but I made par and had a stroke, so after 14 holes we finally won one. On 16 Gene and I make 5, Scott makes yet another great putt for a birdie and we are now 2 down with 2 to go. On 17 Gene makes his best shot of the day and is on in 2 with a stroke. He makes 4 and we win the hole, so now 1 down headed to 18. I have a good approach to about 8 feet and win the hole, so off to extra holes. Gene, Wayne and I are in the fringe in 3, Scott is on the green with about a 20 footer. Gene and I both knock it close with chips, putts are conceded for net 4s. Now Scott has to make his putt for a half. He hits a good putt but just a little off line and we win the match.
It was really a great match and we were outplayed most of the day. Scott Parker especially was superb and shot even par for 19 holes. It’s a shame anyone had to lose this one. We were very lucky to win and the fact that we were able to get some fortunate halves earlier and both finished strong helped a lot.
Updates Fall 2018
BLAZER COMMENTS by Paul Jones
My clutch partner, George, has done an excellent job describing how the final match played out in 2018. Our opponents Jim Slate and Miles Baldwin are a very tough team. They won a number of matches the past two years and we were fortunate to get a hole or two ahead of them early and then hang on. The final match was fun and as usual stressful, but we enjoyed playing against Jim and Miles, two class guys. George and I blended very well in the four matches that we played this year and having a few shots here and there certainly did not hurt. Some of the highlights for me when playing in the Blazer Tournaments: the competition, meeting and playing matches with different Pinewild members, and the gracious sportsmanship that was extended to us in the matches we played. I have participated in the Blazer since 2004 and getting to the final with an opportunity to win the Blazer has always been a goal of mine. At the championship match this year, a few Pinewid members and former Blazer champions came out to see the golf and support the four participants. It was also nice of Ron Davis, the Blazer Historian, to come all the way from Belle Meade to see the final match. I would like to say thank you to Frank Bishop and Walt Blackwell, co-Blazer Tournament Chairmen, for their efforts in organizing this year’s tournament. Thanks also to the PMGA for providing cold beverages for everyone who came out to see the action. Thanks to Walt for driving the beer and soda cart for the front nine, and to Hope, our golf professional, for performing this valuable service on the back nine and for setting up the scorecards for the match. George and I look forward to defending next year and, hopefully, our luck will not run out.
In remembrance, a few words for two of our former Blazer Champions that we lost in 2018, Paul Kauffman and Al Reeder. They were very much alike, always upbeat and positive. They were givers and fine gentlemen. Paul and Al did a lot for us in Pinewild, Paul an expert club maker and Al as a fantastic photographer. Thanks Paul and Al for all that you have done for your friends in Pinewild. You will be missed!
BLAZER TOURNAMENT HISTORY FOR 2018 by George Watterworth
My partner, Paul Jones, is a previous Blazer winner who got desperate to play again and asked me to play in 2017. We were eliminated by outstanding shots by both Mike Tencza and Lee D’Onle on the 18th hole. Never daunted, Paul convinced me to try again this year. I was happy to agree. The prevailing advice in match play is that you don’t have to play well, just a little better than your opponents. That philosophy got us into the finals, much to our surprise. The Final meant facing a very good team, Jim Slate and Miles Baldwin. We managed to “ham and egg” to a 1 up front nine lead. I halved 10 with a bogey out of the woods, then putted 11 for a half. Paul halved 12 with a par. I won 13 with a net 4. We halved 14 with pars. On 15, I hit my best shot of the day to land 6 feet above the hole while everyone else missed the green. While I was lining up my possible birdie, Paul chips his shot in from about 20 yards, relieving me of the embarrassment of a “sure birdie.” Paul halves Jim with a par on 16 and we are 3 and 2 winners.
The congeniality and gentlemanly play of our opponents was outstanding and, God willing, we will look forward to playing again next year.
Updates Fall 2019
Blazer Tournament Winners with Handicap at time of win…
2019 Hal Herring (4) W John Slocum (11) W
Blazer Tournament Runner-Ups
2019 Johann Rudzitis (16) G Gary Petersen 20 (R)
Winning the Blazer Tournament with my partner, Hal Herring, was a big thrill and will be a great memory for the rest of my life. All of the matches were extremely competitive with us winning typically on the 17th hole, including the final against Gary Peterson and Johann Rudzitis. The teams we competed against were all great people as well as good golfers, and all had great sportsmanship. In addition, it was an extreme pleasure to play with Hal. Hal is a wonderful person as well as an excellent golfer. I truly believe Hal overall was the major contributor to our winning the tournament. On top of great golf, he helped me to play well overall, especially in the final
A pleasant surprise was the significant turnout of spectators to watch the match and root on their friends. Having some friends there to watch certainly helped me focus on the task at hand and was greatly appreciated.
The match started with Hal and I (white tees) going two up after two holes, but Gary (red tees) and Johann (gold tees) kept fighting and tied the match after nine holes. The major memory for me was the 17th hole in the final against Gary and Johann. Hal and I were up 2 with two to play. Gary and Johann both received a stroke on 17 and 18, whereas Hal and I did not. At the 17th green, Johann was on the green in two with the pin in the back of the green, while both Hal and I were off the green. Hal was a few feet left and short of the pin while I was over twenty feet right of the flag and about pin high. Hal’s chip was on the green but about ten feet away from the cup. My pitch (via a lob wedge as I absent mindedly left my sand wedge at the 16th green) ended up about twelve feet below the hole. Hal missed his putt and ended up with a bogey. Johann’s first putt from around twenty to twenty-five feet stopped about six feet from the hole. I putted next and made the putt for a par. Johann still had a chance to make par and force the match to the 18th hole. He missed and the match was over.
The 2019 Blazer tournament win by my partner, John Slocum, and myself will be high among my fond memories in my golfing experiences. All of our matches were closely contested, coming down to the final two or three holes before they were decided. I found all of our opponents to be very competitive, yet cordial and perfect gentlemen during the matches. There was never any “gamesmanship” or excessive celebration when good things happened for their team or when we had a bad hole or made mistakes. The camaraderie and friendly atmosphere of the matches is what stands out most to me in the Blazer tournament experience.
It didn’t hurt our cause that my partner played exceptional golf throughout our matches. As the higher handicapper of our team it was essential to our success that he played well on his “stroke” holes, and he was not only able to accomplish that but also carried the team well when I was “taking the hole off” and left him on his own. It was a pleasure to play with John and I’m happy to reap the benefits of his fine play as the Blazer champions of 2019.
THE BLAZER CHAMPIONS DINNER, NOVEMBER 13, 2019
At the annual Champions dinner nineteen former Blazer Champions welcomed Hal Herring and John Slocum as the 2019 Blazer Champions. This is the 25th year that the Blazer has been played and the tournament co-chair Paul Jones thanked Frank Bishop and the PMGA board for their good work. The 2019 tournament ran very smoothly and Paul offered special thanks to Dave Niedermaier for all his help.
Paul advised that there are 26 Blazer Champions currently living in the Pinewild/Pinehurst area and mentioned that this year the turnout for the final match was excellent. Paul recognized Ron Davis, the original Blazer Historian, who passed away this year. Paul mentioned that red tee players are now eligible to play in the Blazer and hopefully more players will compete for the coveted Blazer in 2020.
The dinner was excellent and some said it was the best dinner that they have had. Thanks to Todd for the very tasty food and to Diane and Cindy for the excellent service.