The Players; Jim Hamilton, Ryan “Tork” Torkelson, Holly Swartz , Gary Sorensen, Norm Wight and Gary Swartz (behind the camera)
WMMOA Golf Championship – Air Superiority
Saturday, the eleventh of June dawned sunny and calm, disguising the fury that was soon to be unleashed at the Highlands Golf Course in Missoula as six determined golfers vied for the Third Annual Western Montana Military Officers Golf Championship. In an event that had been dominated by the Army in recent years, this year would find Navy and Air Force competitors as well.
Ryan “Tork” Torkelson, USAF and Norm Wight, USN, joined Jim Hamilton, Gary Sorensen and Gary Swartz, all US Army and Holly Swartz, USMC/US Army on the first tee. In what proved to be a very effective deception, Tork took a couple of wiffs before smashing his drive down the middle of the first hole. Little did the competitors realize that the trend of poor swings followed by flashes of brilliance would continue throughout the day for most players. After a shaky first hole, Swartz’s tee shot on the long second hole found the triple canopy trees along a creek (Jim Hamilton said that it reminded him of Vietnam) and became the first lost ball of the tournament. The short par three second hole was the “closest to the pin” hole and despite Holly’s best tee shot of the day, Tork captured the prize with a beautiful tee shot just a few feet short of the pin. After another hole of slashing swings and gnashing teeth, highlighted by Tom Ross’ and Brenda providing a couple of beers to prevent Gary and Holly from getting dehydrated, the groups found themselves staring down the every dangerous hole number five, the longest drive hole. It is a long dogleg right with a cattail marsh and rolling hills lurking down the right side. Gary Sorensen, the runner up to medalist honors in a previous year, persevered with a towering smash right down the middle to claim the second prize of the day. With only four holes remaining, Gary, Jim and Norm began to feel the pressure to right the ship so to speak and compete for the final prize of the day; the low score. It was to no avail; missed putts, poor drives, bungled chips kept these three reeling. In the meantime, Holly was quietly playing her round with workmanship efficiency.
Two and a half hours after a beginning filled with hope and enthusiasm, the six exhausted duffers gathered on the patio with cool drinks to rehash the days drama. Tork had won the closest to the pin, Gary Sorensen captured the longest drive, Holly Swartz was the woman’s champion for the third year in a row and after applying the handicaps, Tork had demonstrated air superiority by having the low net score. Gary Sorensen was the runner up yet again. Norm Wight, Jim Hamilton and Gary Swartz were left vowing to do better next year. In summary, it was a beautiful day spent exercising through nature with friends; you can’t ask for more than that.
Gary and Tork at the awards ceremony