County golf tournament should take a mulligan

PLAYING AROUND

Howard At Play

October 05, 2003|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND

IT SEEMED like a winner of an idea, but, surprise, the concept of a two-day tournament to determine the best Howard County male and female amateur golfers has, to apply a term from the sport, plopped in a hazard.

In fact, the tournament intended to be played next weekend at the county-owned Timbers of Troy Golf Course in Elkridge may be canceled in a meeting tomorrow at the Department of Recreation and Parks.

The reason? Lack of interest.

"We said when we announced the tournament back in August that we didn't know exactly what to expect," Kyle Warfield, the general manager and head pro at Timbers said last Tuesday. "But we're very disappointed. We just haven't done well at all."

That, despite marketing the event for a month at every county golf course - public, quasi-public and private - and on the Timbers Web site.

Also, a notice of the tournament was made in this column. Hey, we still think it's a neat idea, given that something like 200,000 rounds of golf are played in this county in a normal, drier year.

But the weak response is easy to describe, if not understand. On Tuesday, Warfield said that 14 men and one woman had signed up - not enough to form four foursomes. As of Friday, the drop-dead deadline for entering, that number had risen to 19.

Most parts of the county were represented by those entrants, except, oddly enough, Columbia, which has two courses (OK, so it's one at the moment, with Hobbit's Glen being refurbished.)

Trouble is, Warfield and other rec department leaders were hoping for 100 or more competitors.

Besides putting bragging rights on the line, which golfers tend to like, the terms of play didn't seem so onerous for serious players - an entry fee of $125 that covered 36 holes of golf, a nice meal, and, for the winners, gift certificates to Timbers' pro shop, a trophy, and their names engraved on a permanent plaque.

This was to be an all-Howard County affair, too; entrants were required to have a county address. The champions were to be decided after two days of simple-to-grasp stroke play, meaning low score wins.

Of course, handicaps - the skill equalizer that is pretty much unique to golf - were not acceptable at the Timbers event, which might make a skeptic question the validity of those oft-debated numbers in measuring one's ability on a course. No handicaps means baring one's real game for all to see.

Still, you have to believe that at the Columbia courses, at Turf Valley's three, at Cattail Creek, at Waverly Woods and probably even at the short-but-fun Willow Springs there are enough decent golfers to make up an attractive locals-only tournament.

Maybe next year. We hope rec and parks and the county's golfers think this thing through and try again.

Howard County has gotten big enough to have a locals-only championship mean something, not only in golf but also in many others sports played here.

New Y director

The Howard County YMCA got a new executive director last week, and if you're a member, it's a familiar face, that of Elkridge resident Troy Weaver.

Weaver, 37, who had been associate executive director overseeing fitness and aquatics programs, as well as operations, succeeds Lyndon Murray, who has left Y work for other employment.

Now approaching five years at the Ellicott City facility, the ebullient Weaver, who ran a "meet the exec" promotion that let members try to dunk him in a small tank for a small fee, is a YMCA career leader. His 11 years of Y work have taken him from Washington to facilities in Tennessee and Michigan before here.

The executive director's job has been a goal, Weaver said, acknowledging that now he has to turn serious attention to both fund-raising and getting the Greater Baltimore Y's attention for expanding the popular but cramped county facility.

Have an idea for us? An interesting person you'd like to see written up? Call the writer at 410-332-6525, or send e-mail to lowell.sunderland@baltsun.com.

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