Sure, you might be able to drive a golf ball 350 or more yards. But what organizers of Monday’s 35th annual Roman Open wanted to know was, how far can you hit a frozen marshmallow?
No one could hit it farther than Tim Larkins, who won the challenge at the Open— held on a rainy day at Dalton Golf and Country Club — by using a gap wedge to send one 40 yards.
“My feeling was, ‘Let’s put a lot of spin on the ball,’” said Larkins, a Dalton resident competing in his first Roman Open.
“Others were using drivers, but I figured if I used a wedge I could get it up in the air. You compress it to much with a driver.”
“I’m proud. There’s a lot of pride in that.”
Larkins won an umbrella, just one of many prizes given out during the tournament that benefits charities in Whitfield and Murray Counties, plus provides two scholarships to Dalton State College. In addition to teams of four playing 18 holes of golf, other prize-eligible challenges were provided.
The grand prize was a four-wheeled ATV from Kirk’s Cycle Shop in Dalton for anyone who made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 196-yard No. 16. No one aced it, but Nathan Leonard won a closest-to-the-pin challenge by coming within 3/4 an inch of the cup on the 144-yard, par-3 No. 14 and won a global positioning system.
In other closest-to-the-pin challenges, contestants won DGCC clubhouse gift cards in increments of $300, $200 and $100.
The Roman Open, which used a select-shot format, had a morning and afternoon competition. One skillful golfer, Jeff Browne, was a team member of both the first-flight winners of each session. In the morning, Browne, Werner Braun, John Draper and Rob Cushman won by shooting a 55 on the par-70 layout.
In the afternoon, Browne teamed with Tim McAbe, Scott Jackson and John Harris to shoot a 49, the lowest score of any flight despite the wet course conditions. To achieve the score, the team birdied all par 4 and par 3 holes and eagled three par 5s. They also used four mulligans — one was allotted to each golfer.
“That’s best round of select-shot golf I’ve ever seen,” said Browne, owner of Dalton financial firm Browne, Draper and Land, one of the event’s sponsors. “The weather didn’t present a challenge. When you’re hitting it that good, it doesn’t really matter.”
This year’s Open had 213 paid participants, surpassing last year’s 180. The event raised $85,000 last year and organizers hope to top that number this year as well.
Tournament director Brad Cline said the board of directors won’t know for a week or so the final dollar amount raised, but he already believes this year’s Open was a success.
“For the financial climate, the turnout we had this year was really good,” Cline said. “That’s really encouraging compared to last year because the local economy is worse this year than it was last year. A lot of people in the carpet industry turned out this year too, which is encouraging.
“It was very rainy and cold, but everybody seemed to be having a good time. We had good competitions and everything turned out well.”
First flight: 1. Werner Braun, Jeff Browne, John Draper, Rob Cushman, 55; 2. Steve McMillan, Bill Brewer, Lisa Sellers, Dan Peeples, 55; 3. Bryant Cochran, Tracy Spurlock, David Weaver, David Hicks, 56.
Second flight: 1. Brian Millican, Greg Watkins, Kevin Keyer, Brian Long, 56; 2. Bert Templeton, Joel Reynolds, Dea Kelly, Jared White, 56; 3. David Joyner, Michael Cole, Jim Hunt, Sven Jakel, 58.
Third flight: 1. Gary Wilson, Tom Pappas, Jason Clark, Mike Clark, 60; 2. Curtis Green, Todd North, Shane Day, David Wilson, 60; 3. Noel Black, Brian Anderson, Jimmy Phillips, Scott Skinner, 62.
Individual awards: most accurate drive (No. 13) — Chip Garlock; Longest drive (No. 17) — Brian Long; closest to the pin — No. 6, Mike Clark, 9 feet, 7 1/2 inches; No. 9, Shane Day, 3 feet; No. 14, Nathan Leonard, 3/4 inches.
First flight: 1. Jeff Browne, Tim McAbe, Scott Jackson, John Harris, 49; 2. Lanny Bailey, Scott Lowrie, Henry Vanaintwerf, Howell Kerr, 54; 3. Dwight Hefner, Scott Austin, Matt Oxford, Andy Oxford, 55.
Second flight: 1. Kirk Malerbi, Tom Dannemiller, John Busey, Ward Dannemiller, 56; 2. William Bronson, Tad Holtzclaw, Steve Townsend, Steven Cole, 56; 3. Jack Fiest, Terry Wilson, Phil Carter, Derek Bearden, 57.
Third flight: 1. Keith Hays, Lamar McClure, Jeff Collins, Max Cunningham, 59; 2. Al Ertel, Mark Mixer, Blake Adcock, Gary Crews, 60; 3. Vann Brown, Mark Blanchard, Steve Lyons, Natalie Housepian, 62.
Individual awards: most accurate drive (No. 13) — Amanda Bishop; longest drive — Brian Millican; closest to the pin — No. 6, Jim Webster, 1 foot, 10 inches; No. 9, Ward Dannemiller, 2 feet, 4 1/2 inches; No. 14, Michael Fortner, 1 feet, 5 inches.