The golf course is calling

By Duncan Nixon

Who would believe this weather? Normally even avid golfers are not on the course this time of year, but they are swarming the course.

 Lake Monticello golf pro Mark Marshall encourages everyone with a current contract to renew promptly and is always looking for new players, male and female. Lake Monticello golf contracts expire on Feb. 28. Marshall reports that play over the Lake Monticello course continues to rise. Almost 25,000 rounds were played in 2022 and he is hoping to reach 29,000 rounds in 2023. Weather, of course, is a factor. In 2022, almost exactly a year ago,  there was a period where there was snow on the ground and that resulted in no rounds being played.

A big event early in the year is the Peggy Kirk Bell (PKB) Tournament for topflight young women golfers. These mostly high school girls from around the East Coast can really play. Many are low handicap or scratch golfers, looking for college scholarships. This tournament has been played on the Lake Monticello course for several years. The organizers have been very impressed by the level of support that the Lake community has given this tournament. As a result, the tournament organizers have elected to return to the Lake over other possible venues. The PKB tournament will be held on March 18 and 19. Volunteers to help with the tournament are always welcome. Call the pro shop to sign up.

Another big two-day event that has been played over the Lake Monticello course, seemingly forever, is the 46th annual Faulconer Invitational. This event has been bringing in top amateur men from Central Virginia for a two-day test of skills for a long time. There are three flights in this tournament. A regular flight which is the primary contest, plus a senior flight and a super senior flight. Golfers of all ages may compete in the regular flight. This tournament also is strongly supported by the Lake golfing community. 

There is quite a bit of activity on the schedule for 2023. The Lake Monticello Ladies Golf Association kicks off its 2023 season with a breakfast on March 14 at the Fluvanna County Library. The Ladies have an eighteen-hole league, a nine-hole league and a Pink Flamingos group. They invite players of all abilities and levels of experience to sign up for one of these groups. Men’s leagues at the Lake include the eighteen-hole Gray Foxes and the nine-hole Gray Foxes. These are membership, over 50 seniors’ leagues. The eighteen-hole women begin play on March 23, and the nine-hole women’s league begins play on Tuesday March 28. The Pink Flamingos season kicks off on April 5.

The men’s senior Gray Foxes return to action on March 23, while the nine-hole Gray Foxes begin play on March 28. Both groups play different formats each week, sometimes team and sometimes individual events. Prizes in the form of pro shop credits are awarded each week. There is a small fee collected each week and that money is distributed for the prizes. 

Marshall said that, on an experimental basis, the men’s nine-hole Gray Foxes and the Women’s nine-hole league will be switching days this year. For a number of years, the nine-hole Gray Foxes have played on Friday mornings, and nine-hole women’s league has played on Tuesday mornings at the same time as the 18-hole women’s league. Therefore, the women’s leagues have played at the same time with the eighteen-holers starting on the first hole and the nine-hole women starting on the 10th hole. Under the new arrangement, women players will be able to play in both leagues as has been the case for the men for several years. The women’s league, however, will require players to sign up for one league or the other, and when they play in the league they are not signed up for they will not be eligible for prize money. All leagues will have starting times that change throughout the season due to available sunlight in the morning, and heat in mid-day.

Programs for junior golfers will start on March 28.  Junior classes will run from March 28 to May 9. Junior golf camps will be conducted in June and July, and a PGA under age 13 team will play against teams from other courses around the area. Marshall has special qualifications for instructing juniors.

As usual, there will be a plethora of mostly charity weekend tournaments. Three early tournaments will be the Peggy Robertson Memorial on April 1, with proceeds going to breast cancer research; the Habitat for Humanity’s tournament on April 22 and the Lake Monticello Fire and Rescue tournament on June 17. 

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