Sports

Let's take advantage of this APL so we can do the same in a few years

As the talk of bringing NASCAR to the our area plods along, I’d like to see all of us take a break from arguing the positives and negatives of wanting or not wanting to build a palace where cars turn left for three hours and focus on what we already have in our little fairly unknown backyard — a tournament that will eventually crown a national championship.

If you don’t know by now — and I can’t see how you couldn’t — the United States Golf Association’s 81st U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship is well under way out at Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course.

Some of the country’s top amateur golfers who don’t have access to private courses have been in the area for a couple of days, taking their collective hacks at one of the better public courses I’ve ever played.

I’ve said this before — I was totally shocked at the quality of the golf when I moved up here. I tell my golfing buddies that you could drop Gold Mountain, McCormick and Trophy Lake just about anywhere in Central Texas and people would flock to these courses in droves. The only problem is, they’d have to pay $75 to $120 bucks to play them down there.

Again, that’s the beauty of golf in Kitsap County – outstanding layouts and well-groomed tracks for a cow-pasture price. When I tell friends back in Austin that I can play a course like Olympic for $22 on a summer afternoon and do it in 70-degree temperatures, well, they don’t believe me.

They respond that the constant rain that falls here has driven me insane and it’s time for me to come home.

While that might be pretty close to the truth, I do know one thing for certain – not many areas get national tournaments like this, and we not only need to support it, we have to.

For the sake of all that is good in the world of golf and sports in this county, we must show the USGA that Gold Mountain deserves this and maybe other championship golf tournaments in the future.

And we can accomplish that by doing one simple thing — attending the final four days of competition in mass.

If the USGA representatives see some good-sized galleries over the remainder of the weekend, chances are they’ll bring their championship back.

The Olympic Course will do its part, it will hold up and get rave reviews from the 156 amateurs that play at least two rounds on it. Those who continue on will see just how good and fair, but demanding, the course is after playing it multiple times.

The weather will also hold up. And after a week of sunny skies, no precipitation and mild temps, it will dispel many of the misguided notions that it rains here every single day and this is not a golfing destination.

The championship itself will hold and give us some fantastic matches and crown a worthy champion.

In fact, a former APL winner, Trevor Immelman, who captured the title in 1998, won his first PGA title last Sunday by beating Tiger Woods. Yes, that Tiger Woods.

So all that’s left is for us to hold up our end. And that’s the easiest part.

What’s better to do than go enjoy this weather while watching some great golf? And do it for free.

That’s right. This whole thing, watching people compete for a national title is free.

And even better, the course will not be roped off like other tournaments. Meaning you’re free to wander around – meaning you walk down the fairways behind the group you want to follow.

Or pick a spot, say on the hill on the right side of the 15th fairway, and enjoy watching the action on three holes. Or grab a spot somewhere around No. 18 and watch how guys decide to play the drivable finishing hole.

It doesn’t matter from where you watch, just as long as you go and watch.

This is by far the biggest sporting event to ever take place in Kitsap County. And we have to take advantage of that.

A good showing by us means more exposure for the area’s courses. And it means more money for the local economy.

And that translates into more big-time golf tournaments which means we can spend more time out on a local course, enjoying the greatest game ever invented.

That sounds like a good day to me.

Jeff Wilson can be reached at (360) 876-4414, or by e-mail at sports@portorchadindependent.com.

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