Ron Agostini

September 3, 2008

Agostini: Hospice tournament offers golf in the dark

There are days on the course when I mumble, "I'm playing like I'm in the dark." Which happens most of the time, in fact.

There are days on the course when I mumble, "I'm playing like I'm in the dark."

Which happens most of the time, in fact.

But Modesto's Mike Sharp takes it one point further: If you're curious about nighttime golf, here's your chance.

Sharp is chairman for the Golf For Hospice Tournament, a fund-raiser for Community Hospice. Not only is the cause good, the format stands out.

The 18-hole daytime scramble is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 22, at Spring Creek Country Club in Ripon. The fun begins, however, the night of Sept. 20 at Spring Creek, when sponsors and volunteers are treated to nine holes of golf in the dark. A casino night precedes the golf.

"Tournaments are a dime a dozen. It's hard to set yourself apart. We thought that this will make a unique catch," Sharp said. "This year will be sort of a test run. If we can make it work well enough, the whole tournament in the future will be glow-in-the-dark."

Sharp remembered how much he enjoyed a similar tournament years ago at River Oaks in Ceres. A rehearsal night at Spring Creek last week encouraged him.

"Swinging the club when you can't see the ground is a unique experience," he said. "You attach glow sticks to your clubheads and place them in the cups so you can see your target. We'll also place lantern-like flashlights in bunkers and other places so people don't stumble."

The golf balls, made by Nitelite and Glow Flyer, last about a day and a half, Sharp said, and can be re-used when new light sticks are inserted.

"You need about two extra clubs for each shot. It sounds like a rock when you hit it, but it goes," he said.

One bonus: a putting contest, spiced by a strobe light. And you thought putting already was hard, right?

The tournament on the 22nd is open to the public, and the fee is $150. Call Sharp, 551-2000.

All artificial light is welcome.

GOLF TOSSING — Disc golf, where practitioners toss Frisbee-like discs toward baskets on a pole a few feet above the ground, is gaining popularity. Manteca's Kenny Lee took part in the Professional Disc Golf Association World Championships last month in Kalamazoo, Mich., and placed third in the Grand Masters (49 and older) division. He won $1,000.

"I tell everybody my hobby is teaching and my vocation is disc golf," said Lee, 51, a nine-year disc golf veteran who teaches in Tracy.

Lee says the holes vary in length from 165 to 800 feet and feature trees and elevation changes, not unlike traditional golf. He battled through a 40-man division which played eight 18-hole rounds, but only four survived the cut.

The Mantecan scored a 165-foot hole-in-one and also earned a few cheers from spectators when he made a 2 on a downhill 800-footer.

"One of my career moments," Lee said.

For more information on disc golf, visit

THE SHAG BAG — Modesto's Fredrik Palmer became only the second local player to survive the cut at The Walmart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. He and professional partner Jeff Roth tied for 13th in the pro-junior division. Julianna Uhrik and pro David Eger tied for seventh during the inaugural First Tee Open in 2004. ...

Chris Dewar, a former teacher at Modesto's First Tee chapter, needed only four months to fortify the Reno First Tee. She used radio and TV promotions, as well as support from Patty Sheehan and Scott McCarron, to spike attendance from 171 to 510. "They needed somebody to get it going," Dewar said. "I'm going to have to hire more people." ...

Jamie Looper of Oakdale qualified for a four-way playoff for the title of the State Fair Championship last weekend in Sacramento. He was edged for first place, however, when Jeff Hoffman of Folsom birdied the first playoff hole for the victory. Looper finished with a 74 at Bing Maloney. ... Jeff Burda of Modesto closed with a snappy 66 at Mather for a 10-stroke victory in the State Fair's senior division over runner-up Chris McKenna of Rocklin.

HOLES-IN-ONE — John Cook, Turlock, 154-yard 12th at Stevinson Ranch, 8-iron. ... Jim Kervin, Manteca, 142-yard second at Jack Tone Golf, Ripon, 6-iron.

Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at or 578-2302.

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