MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (April 8, 2011) --
On the eve of professional golf’s Masters Tournament weekend at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., Marines came out to Cherry Point’s Sound of Freedom Golf Course to see if they could channel their inner Tiger Woods during the air station’s annual single Marine program Devil Dog Open April 8.
Calm and clear spring skies staged the tree-skirted, river-neighboring course beautifully for the more than 100 competitors who came out for the four-player teamed, best ball-scramble formatted tournament.
“It was a great day for golf,” explained Jim Ferree, manager and golf professional for the course. “Getting these single Marines out here with their fellow Marines and retirees builds great camaraderie.”
Ferree added that with the Masters going on at the same time and the interest it adds to golf, it’s natural for the thought of sinking a putt to win the Masters to cross the golfers’ minds.
“In your wildest dreams, if you’re going to dream, dream big,” Ferree said.
“We tried, but to no avail,” joked Jaime A. Bayze, an AV-8B Harrier engine mechanic with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14. “It’s much more difficult than it looks.”
Bayze teamed up with three other Marines from his shop, Kyle G. Butzer, Christopher W. Potts and Michael J. DeJesus to collectively shoot a 2-under-par 70.
One shot that did come into fruition for the team was a 60-foot putt Butzer sank on the fourth hole, which the team unanimously decided was their team’s shot of the day.
“He was sinking putts all day,” Bayze said. “Must have been the pointers the golf professionals gave him during the clinic.”
The clinic Bayze was speaking of was one of which two golf professionals, Dr. Mac Powell and Mike Springer from the National University Golf Academy, put on for free prior to the tournament. Powell is the dean of the academy and Springer is a two-time PGA tour winner.
“They flew out from Carlsbad, Calif., to put on this clinic,” Ferree explained. “They also generously paid the entry fees for all of the single Marines.”
“It’s nice to come out here and give back,” said Powell. “My grandfather was a gunnery sergeant in the Marine Corps, and I have two cousins that are currently serving.”
Bayze said the golf lessons were invaluable for him and the other Marines.
“For how expensive golf lessons are and to be able to come out here and learn from pros for free was priceless,” Bayze added.
The clinic was held at the driving range at the course, which Powell told Ferree was one of the nicer military courses he’s played.
“The trees aren’t too forgiving, but that’s what is lovely about the East Coast, all the trees.”
Staying out of the trees, the tournament’s winning team registered a score of 59, 13 shots under the course’s par 72. The top nine finishing teams received prizes, ranging from golf gear to gift certificates redeemable at the course’s golf shop.
“The tournament just keeps getting better every year,” said Bayze.