Golf is underway at the Lake Monticello course

By Duncan Nixon

The 2023 golf year has just begun, but the Lake Monticello golf course is buzzing with activity. The Peggy Kirk Bell tournament for top young women is already in the rearview mirror. Other highlights to come are the Annual Faulconer Invitational in May and the Men’s Member-Guest in June. There will also be a full schedule of weekend tournaments, mostly for the benefit of local charities.

The men’s Gray Foxes have started up, as have the women’s golf programs at the Lake. A major change in the playing schedule has been instituted. In prior years, the Gray Foxes’ eighteen-hole group played on Thursday morning, while nine-hole Gray Foxes played every Friday morning. The women’s nine-hole group played on Tuesday morning, as did the women’s eighteen-hole group, with the eighteen-hole group starting on hole number one and the nine-hole group starting on hole number ten. This meant that the women players had to select to play in one group or the other. By switching the men’s nine-hole group and the women’s nine-whole group, the women and the men can now play with both groups if they elect to do so.

It is still too early to say whether this change will increase play or not. However, Dan Atkinson, who is the coordinator of the eighteen-hole Gray Foxes, and John Stenz, who is the coordinator of the nine-hole Gray Foxes, both said that they have a significant number of first-time players this season. Stenz noted that players are signing up from inside and outside the Lake. Atkinson said that there are 80 golfers signed up for Gray Foxes this season, a new high for recent years, and that, on average, he has signed in over 36 players per week early this season. 

Both Gray Foxes groups play a wide variety of competitions throughout the year. Some weeks the players compete individually, some weeks they are competing in a twosome contest and some weeks they are playing in a four-player team format. One of the more popular competitions is called Ringers. It is a yearlong competition in which a player’s best score on each hole for the entire season is recorded and, at year end, the players with the lowest overall net and gross scores are the winners. It takes a very low score to win. There are also side contests such as skins, match play and Stableford for players who are willing to risk a bit more than the weekly sign-in fee in hope of coming away with a small profit if they turn in a superior performance.

 Many of the competitions that the men and the women have require that the players have an established current handicap. As a result, all the players must have and maintain an accurate handicap, by entering their scores into the computer after every round. There is a less formal group for women that is called the Pink Flamingos. They play on Wednesday afternoons. Handicaps are not required and players can play Captain’s Choice or play their own ball for the nine holes. It is a low intensity experience for less serious players, new players and players returning to the game after a long absence.

In order to open up more tee times for golfers who do not play in one of the above discussed groups, PGA pro Mark Marshall has reduced the time allotted between tee times from ten minutes to nine minutes. This will hopefully result in increased play and increased revenue for the golf course. It is still too early to tell whether this change will have the desired result.

Anyone interested in joining any of these groups should check things out at the Pro Shop.

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