Dodge Shootout Celebrity Golf Tournament.

Jim Yarbrough, who has been running this golf tournament for 15 years, was gracious enough to give me an invitation to play this year. There are 51 celebrities participating in this invitational. There were two days of pro-am's where amateurs played with a celebrity pro with many nice prizes donated by Dodge, Mitsubishi, and Hewlett Packard. On the same day as the 2nd day's pro-am, the pro's played another round of competition which started their part of the tournament. The players were grouped into 4 groups; NFL, MLB, NHL, and the NBA & others. The first days competition had the best 5 scores from each group being compared to the other groups. I was grouped in with the NBA & others. The top 9 scores after the 2 rounds of golf plus the defending champion, Pierre Larouche will start the 9 hole playoff on the third day with one player being eliminated each hole. If there is a tie for the high score on that hole, then there is a special shot with the farthest away being eliminated. The tournament was played at the Troon Innisbrook resort in Palm Harbour, Florida. The first round was at the Island course with the final round and shootout at the Copperhead course. The Copperhead course is used by the PGA tour during their fall tournament. The celebrity tour plays used the gold and black tee boxes for the event.

The pro-am round was a bit confusing as a rain storm was settling down and I was having trouble finding my clubs which I had dropped off the day before. I was scheduled to play my round with some amateurs, but since my clubs were not immediately present I was replaced by one of the other pros and ended up playing in group with other celebrities. I had a good time playing with Gorman Thomas of the MLB, Cazzie Russell of the NBA and Darryl Talley of the NFL. It was my first time playing the Island course, so it was a good practice round for the competition later in the day.

In my first round of competition I was paired with Pierre Larouche, the defending champion and Kent Nilsson. Both Pierre and Kent are from the NHL and are pretty good golfers. Apparently Pierre was a bowler in his younger days as he set pins for his dad. Pierre is very friendly and talkative. Even though Kent was more on the quite side he was also very nice to play golf with. Pierre had the knowledge that he was in the playoffs already, so he was playing a bit more aggressively than he might otherwise play. Despite having a Gordy Howe (9) on one hole, Pierre shot 80. Kent struggled a bit and ended up shooting 82. The Island course plays 6654 yards with a rating of 72.4 from the 'Gold' tees which is just short of how the course was set up for the tournament. A shot-gun start was used and we started on the 17th hole.

Hole	Yards	Par	Score	Putts
1	362	4	6	2
2	500	5	5	2	F	G
3	428	4	5	0
4	169	3	4	1
5	352	4	5	2
6	388	4	3	0	F
7	536	5	5	1	F
8	190	3	4	2
9	388	4	6	2	F
	3313	36	43	12	4/7	1/9 gir  2 penalty strokes
10	403	4	5	2	F
11	495	5	6	1	
12	337	4	4	1	F
13	185	3	4	2	
14	423	4	4	1	F
15	523	5	4	1		G
16	435	4	6	2
17	185	3	3	2		G
18	355	4	5	2
	3341	36	41	14	3/7	2/9 gir
	6654	72	84	26	7/14	3/18 gir	2 penalty strokes
I had 2 penalty strokes when I hit the ball into the water on the right on the 1st hole off of the tee and into the water on my 2nd shot on the 3rd hole. I had 2 shots using my putter from off of the green go in the hole when I saved a bogey on the 3rd hole and birdied the 6th hole. On the 4th hole I miscued my chip and the ball rolled back almost to where it was and then I nearly chipped it in on my 3rd shot. I also had to chip the ball back into play out of the hazard on the 17th and 9th holes. I had a little bit of trouble hitting the ball as straight as I needed to as I only hit 7 of 14 fairways and 3 of 18 greens in regulation. Fortunately my short game was decent and my score wasn't higher. I was tied for 31st place out of the 51 players after the first round. The 2nd round was played at the Copperhead course. I had the opportunity to get in a couple of partial practice rounds. The only hole I hadn't played was the 18th. There wasn't quite as much water, but the course was still very narrow with plenty of trees. From the 'Gold' tee box the Copperhead course plays 6705 yards with a rating of 73.1 and a 132 slope. The tournament was set up to play near the 'Gold' tee boxes with several of the back tee boxes being used, especially on the par 3's. They used both the 1st and 10th tees for starting times. I started on the 10th tee with Dan Jansen, Olympic gold medal winner in ice skating, and John Ebersole, from the NFL. Dan's wife, Karen, is a teaching golf pro and was his caddie for the tournament. I had the help of Tom Pennington, my father-in-law. Tom is a pretty good golfer himself, about a 10 handicap, and we have played many rounds together over the years.

Hole	Yards	Par	Score	Putts
1	535	5	5	1
2	380	4	5	1	F
3	435	4	4	2	F	G
4	165	3	3	1
5	570	5	5	2	F	G
6	440	4	4	2		G
7	360	4	4	2	F	G
8	195	3	3	2		G
9	400	4	4	2	F	G
	3480	36	37	14	5/7	6/9
10	420	4	5	2	F
11	530	5	6	2	
12	355	4	4	2		G
13	155	3	2	1		G
14	550	5	5	2	F	G
15	185	3	2	1		G
16	430	4	5	2	F
17	180	3	4	2	
18	420	4	4	1
	3225	35	37	15	3/6	4/9
	6705	71	74	29	8/13	10/18
I hit the ball much better in this 2nd round. I didn't really think I had a chance to get into the top 9, but I still wanted to play a good round of golf. Starting on the back 9, I missed the green on my first 2 holes and missed a couple of short putts to save par. I made a couple of really nice putts for my birdies after some great tee shots on 2 of the par 3's. I was a hair right on my approach shot on the 16th landing in the bunker and made a poor bunker shot to eventually get a bogey. I pulled the ball really bad on the 17th tee with my 4 wood as we were actually playing at around 220 yards to lead to a bogey. I had to punch out of the trees on #1, but hit my 4 wood to the fringe of the green and saved par. I made a bad chip on the 2nd after a poor approach shot, but made a saving putt for bogey. I hit a great shot on 6 through the trees to about 7 feet, but lipped out the birdie putt. On the last hole my putt ended up a couple of inches from the hole to finish with a very nice 74 to finish 6 shots short of the cut to the top 9. I realize that I am not quite the caliber golfer that some of the celebrities are, but I did manage to finish tied for 16th place out of the 51 players which I felt was very respectable. I had a lot of fun and I hope I get a chance to play in a few more of these events. Hopefully my golf game will also improve a bit in the future.

Here is the link to the results.

Walter Ray

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