Jorgenson, Nelson take All-Alaskan Skins Game

Running off birdies on five of the first six holes, Travis Jorgenson of Fishhook Golf Course in Palmer and Rob Nelson of Fox Hollow Golf Course in Anchorage ran away with the 19th annual Birch Ridge Golf Association All-Alaskan Pro Skins Game on Monday.

Jorgenson and Nelson split $975, while James Contreras and local product Beau Forrest split $725 and Birch Ridge’s Aaron Dexheimer and Nolan Rose split $300.

In the Birch Ridge skins game, the partners play alternate shot and alternate teeing off on each hole. In a skins game, each hole is worth a dollar amount. If one team gets the low score on a hole, that team wins the money. But if two or more teams tie for low score, that hole’s money is carried to the next hole.

Jorgenson and Nelson had the low score on four of the first six holes. Jorgenson, who got his first skins game victory in about seven years of trying, said the pair had a good feeling going into the skins game after the pro-am earlier in the day, where Nelson was the low pro at ever-par 70, and Nelson and Jorgenson were the only two golfers to win skins. Amateur Rynae Baca had the low round of the pro-am at 69.

“You can’t ever really expect to start like that,” Jorgenson said. “Rob and I had the only two skins going in, so we had a good vibe.”

On the par-4, 325-yard first hole, all four teams found the green within 20 feet of the hole. Nelson, kicking off what would be a jaw-dropping display of a deft short game, rolled in a 15-footer that went downhill and slightly to the left.

Nelson at one time had dreams of making the PGA Tour. But now in his late 40s, he said those dreams have long since died and he is blessed to have a great wife and family.

“My care factor is so low that it’s easy to play,” said Nelson, who played just his fourth 18-hole round of the summer Monday. “When I tried to play for a living, every shot mattered. When I do play tournaments now, it’s only for fun.”

With Nelson’s short game on fire, Jorgenson said all he had to do was hit good shots to keep the momentum going. He did just that on the par-4, 370-yard second hole, where his drive left Nelson about 90 yards out. Nelson stuffed his approach within 4 feet of the back pin, leading to another skin.

Fox Hollow is a par-3 golf course, allowing Nelson — who has always been a long hitter — to sharpen his game inside of 90 yards like never before. He said wedges that used to be within 15 feet are now within 5 feet.

“If I had this game 20 years ago, I’d still be on tour,” he said.

Nelson showed off his power on No. 3, leaving Jorgenson 85 yards to the green on the par-4, 405-yard hole. Jorgenson showed he could wedge it a bit, too, leaving Nelson a 5-footer that was rolled home for a third straight skin. The first three holes were worth $125 apiece, so the bank roll was up to $375.

The duo came within whiskers of an eagle and another skin on the par-5, 495-yard fourth. Jorgenson’s drive landed in the left rough, leaving Nelson 213 yards down a steep hill to the pin. His 4-iron ended up 6 feet from the cup, but Jorgenson left the putt short.

“Best 4-iron I’ve ever hit in my life,” Nelson said.

After the fifth hole was pushed, $600 was on the line for the par-3, 150-yard sixth hole. Jorgenson’s tee ball was almost pin high, but 15 feet off the right fringe of the green. Nelson took dead aim with his 52-degree wedge and clunked the ball off the pin and into the hole.

With that shot, the earnings grew to $975 and the team had birdied five of six. Pat Cowan, co-owner of Birch Ridge Golf Course, said nobody had ever started the skins game with that many birdies before.

Nelson said he had a good feeling as soon as he sized up the chip.

“It looked like it should go in,” Nelson said. “Sometimes the hole looks like a thimble, and sometimes it looks like a bucket, and it happened to look like a bucket.”

Dexheimer and Rose got on the board on the par-4, 380-yard seventh hole. Dexheimer’s drive put Rose at the 100-yard marker shooting to a back pin position. Rose’s approach shot came to rest 5 feet from the cup, and Dexheimer converted the birdie and skin.

But not before Nelson almost chipped in from an impossible position — more than 20 yards off the left of the green and facing a sizable uphill.

“I thought I made it,” Nelson said. “It felt great coming off the club head. It was going right at it and stopped short.”

The teams pushed the par-3 eighth, but Nelson almost won that with another chip from more than 20 yards from the hole that just missed the pin. Nelson said the ball was right on line put kicked right a little when it hit the green.

That left $725 on the line for the par-4, 330-yard ninth hole. Contreras put Forrest in the center of the fairway at the 100-yard marker, and Forrest responded by leaving Contreras with a 4-footer. He rolled that in for the skin.

Both Jorgenson and Nelson said the skins game is first-class. Jorgenson enjoys having the junior caddies and said the Birch Ridge greens are the best in the state.

“Pat and Myrna (Cowan) do a great job,” Nelson said. “It’s a special event and I’m lucky to be able to play in it.”

19th annual Birch Ridge Golf
Association All-Alaskan Pro Skins Game

Top three amateurs — Rynae Baca 69, Scott Woodland 75, Marcus Dolesji 78.

Top three net amateurs — Jimmy Mac 66, Darell Jelsma 67, Shane Sundberg 67.

Pros — Rob Nelson 70; Brandon Kaiser, Aaron Dexheimer 71; James Contreras 72; Bryan Anderson, Travis Jorgenson 73; Tom Walsh 74; Nolan Rose 77; Beau Forrest 79; Mark Dolejsi 81.

Teams (low net plus low gross on each hole) — Rob Nelson, Nick Beeson, Max Dye, Shane Sundberg, 122; Brandon Kaiser, Jimmy Grace, Pahl, Geer, 129; James Contreras, Sid Cox, George Stein, Jeff Hetrick, 129; Travis Jorgenson, Rose Pelletier, Rynae Baca, Madison Baca, 129; Tom Walsh, Tim Walsh, Jimmy Mac, Roy Bird, 130; Bryan Anderson, Scott Woodland, Trey Miller, Tony Kilpatrick, 132; Aaron Dexheimer, Steve Dexheimer, Mike Rose, Sean O’Reilly, 133; Beau Forrest, Max Conradi, Earl Matthis, Vic Hussey, 135; Bill Engberg, Ken Liedes, Tim Crawford, Cliff Copus, 136; Nolan Rose, Mike Hollingsworth, Darell Jelsma, Steve Tachick, 137; Mark Dolesji, Marcus Dolesji, Tyler Yamada, Al Fry, 138.

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