MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Kneeling behind the golf ball, Kevin Lagrutta plans his next putt. His friends comedically commentate as if he were making the putt of his career. Lagrutta stands and addresses the ball. A light tap sends it rolling slowly toward the hole. Time nearly stops as it slows to a snail’s pace before dropping into the hole. “It’s hard being this awesome,” said Lagrutta, dropping his club and slowly turning and walking away.
Lagrutta and his team were four of nearly 100 contestants who competed in the Devil Dog Open golf tournament at the Sound of Freedom golf course here April 27.
The tournament started with a golf clinic taught by Lance Strickland, a PGA golfer.
“I’ve noticed when teaching Marines they’re typically better listeners,” said Strickland. “Like all Marines, they typically have a more aggressive swing, but they are willing to learn and embrace the game.”
Under the tourney’s best-ball format rules, all players on each team teed off; subsequent swings were taken from the most advantageous lie among them.
“Playing like this gives everyone a chance and it keeps the game moving,” said Kyle Schmidt, one of the Lagrutta’s teammates. “We didn’t come out here thinking we’d take first place. We came out to have fun and play golf.”
Jen Krivohlavy, a Single Marine Program coordinator, said the event was designed to build camaraderie and offer Marines, Sailors and other contestants a chance to relax.
“The best part about this event is watching everyone have a great time,” said Krivohlavy. “For many of the Marines, and myself, this was their first time picking up a golf club.”
Alberto Martinez, also of Lagrutta’s team, was one of those first-timers.
“I found out that golf is a lot harder than it looks,” said Martinez. “This was still a ton of fun, and I’ll definitely come out for the next one.”
The first place team, dubbed “the old guys” by fellow contestants and themselves, were Buzz Hayes, Ed Slachta, Joe Arnoult and Leon Clay with a score of 63. The victory earned them gift cards for the Cherry Point golf course pro shop, T-shirts and hats.