Over 50 serious golfers make their way from places as far as San Luis Obispo, flocking to the Arbuckle Golf Club for their biggest tournament of the year on Saturday and Sunday.
Golfers got to play in the annual Almond Blossom Tournament before rain could start up again. Players were happy with this year’s mild weather in comparison to the past five years.
The tournament has been going strong for over 40 years, and many of the athletes consider this course as their favorite, with its sprawling view of the blooming orchards and a winter season that makes for some bright green fairways.
“We recently changed (hole) number seven from being a tough par three with rough all around it,” said Derick Strain, tournament director. “I’d say it is even tougher now but we made it more fairway. It looks more like Augusta National because it’s more fairway cut off the apron.”
Strain added,“ That’s probably my favorite because it’s beautiful but tough. I think challenge is part of it, I guess it all depends on the caliber of play. I think it’s probably the reward when you play a tough hole and you do well.”
Mike Voorhees, Arbuckle Golf Club president, has been playing there his whole adult life and is familiar with this course. Regarding the recent rain, “the course is playing a bit rough,” Voorhees explained.
To make the game even more interesting, the tees and holes were changed around between the days in the tournament so as to give a challenge for the expert golfers. Voorhees said they “set the course up a little bit tougher so it separates sandbaggers from the good golfers.”
Choosing their pairing, many of the twosomes are friends. The tournament was open to male and female players of varying ages that range from young adult to the oldest twosome at 83 and 75 years old.
The players were separated between “A Flight” and “B Flight” playing in pairs which means several prizes from $150-550 in club credits were won. Bert Chandar won the Closest to Pin Award at 5 ft. 3 inches.
Troy Ford and Mark Engellenner were the twosome that won first place on Flight A.
Engellenner humbly admits that he did better than last year. He plans on hosting a tournament and putting his winnings towards the cost so the players don’t have to pay as much. “
“We (play in this tournament) every year; we’ll be back next year” says Ford.
The Almond Blossom Tournament is co-ed and open to the public. ■