Aaron Gelston’s foursome was victorious before reaching the Mendenhall Golf Course on Saturday, so they felt plenty of drive to press their advantage during the Annual Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce Golf Classic.
“We did pull tabs before we got here,” Gelston said. “We won $100, so we had to test our luck.”
“We spent it all on mulligans,” said Zeno Cole, another member of the foursome, referring to the tournament’s allowance of purchasing “do-overs” for shots to boost revenue during the ninth annual fundraising event.
A total of 88 people participating in 22 teams, many representing local businesses who in some instances sponsored a hole on the course, took part in the tournament, said Maggie McMillan, the chamber’s executive director. She said there were also individuals signing up independently who were assigned to teams, plus one person allowed on the course as an unofficial participant.
“He was here, he was visiting in town and he just wanted to go out on the course,” she said.
The mulligans — one allowed per player — proved useful for Gelston’s team and others during an unusually warm day on a course that hasn’t seen significant rain for a while.
“The greens are going to be really fast today,” Gelston said watching his drive shot roll on the second hole. “They’ve been all dried out.”
His second shot was a chip onto the green that rolled well past the hole because, he said, the turf was “like concrete.”
The foursome, who said they’ve known each other for many years and golf with some regularity, represented Alaska Marine Trucking, whose affiliate Alaska Marine Lines was a tournament sponsor.
The level of competitiveness among participants varied as much as their golfing experience, from first-timers just there for the experience to course regulars determined to hit their target scores.
“We’re at par,” said Matt Seymour, part of a team unaffiliated with a sponsor. “We’re staying there.”
Members of his team discussed club choices for the best way to avoid a particularly difficult section of uneven roughs surrounding the seventh hole. When the first three players nonetheless all hit their balls into various parts of the rough, Mark Wendling used his one mulligan when his drive likewise went wayward.
“I think I’m going to,” he said. “That was disappointing as hell.”
His second shot also strayed into the rough, leaving the foursome to search among their balls for the least awful option. That turned out to be Fisher’s ball that was just a few inches into a flat part of the rough — and he took out a large chunk of the tall grass obscuring the ball with his shot, allowing his three companions attempts that continued to get easier with each successive shot removing more roughage.
Feeling far more casual as they concluded their game on the ninth hole was a foursome that included three first-time players who had collectively managed one par score on the previous eight holes. They didn’t feel the need to improve that by purchasing any mulligans.
“We came out here for fun,” said Matt Schienke, a Hecla Mining Company employee. “We’re not keeping score too much.”
The tournament got more than the usual number of first-time players this year, McMillan said. But otherwise it wasn’t remarkably different than previous years, including those that continued during the COVID-19 pandemic that halted many other activities in less confined spaces.
“It’s the ninth one and we’ve never missed a year,” she said.