Kenai’s Charlie Kahakauwila, Homer’s Chris Morin and Soldotna’s Marianne Hyman won gross titles Sunday at the two-day Donald R. Morgan Memorial Club Championship at windy Kenai Golf Course.
Kahakauwila was playing in the seniors division but had a two-day total of 19-over-par 163 that stood up to the swirling gusts better than anybody else.
Seniors Tom Reese and Dave Litchfield were next at 168 and 170, respectively. Morin fired 171 to defeat the 190 of Andrew Reed and win the men’s division.
Morin, who tied for eighth at the State Amateur at Palmer Golf Course in mid-July, wins the men’s division for the fifth time in six years, though this is the first time in that run he didn’t have the best overall score.
Hyman had a 194 to defeat the 197 of Lara Griffin and win her first women’s club title.
Kahakauwila also posted the best score at a major tournament at Kenai Golf Course for the first time. At 72 years old, he is playing the best golf of his life, having gotten his handicap down to a career-low 12. That and his low ball flight put him on top Sunday.
“All I can say is it was brutal out there today,” he said.
Kahakauwila said the windiest part of the course was the green on No. 15, where he estimated the gusts built to 35 mph.
“I putted from way off the green on No. 15 to keep the ball down,” he said. “The wind still blew the ball to the right.”
Kahakauwila said his strategy was to keep the ball low and keep it in play. He also made some clutch putts, none bigger than at the par-3 14th, where he putted out of the sand trap and holed out. Kahakauwila said he hit the ball way too hard and it would have rocketed past the hole were it not for the flagstick.
“I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” he said.
Kahakauwila is originally from Maui, but moved to the Kenai Peninsula in 1977 and took up golf in 1989. He returns to Maui for a few months each year and plays on a municipal course on the coast, so he is used to battling with trade winds. But nothing like Sunday offered.
“The guys I play with (in Maui) would have quit if it was like this,” he said.
Though the seniors and men used different tees and thus play a course of a different length, Kahakauwila was still proud to post the best score at a tournament featuring the name of Donald Morgan, a beloved figure at the course who died in 2001.
“This one was special because it’s the Donnie,” Kahakauwila said.
Morgan was known for sitting near the tee on the par-3 10th, betting golfers a dollar that they wouldn’t hit the green, then yelling out, “Did you hit the green?” Morgan would donate the money to junior golf.
Kahakauwila did hit the green Sunday, but gave a dollar to longtime Kenai Golf Course regular Tommy Carver anyway.
“Just for old time’s sake,” Kahakauwila said.
Hyman also didn’t let the wind bother her as she won her first major title at Kenai Golf Course.
“The wind was kind of fun,” she said. “I tried to be smarter than the wind, but that didn’t always work.”
Hyman also was aware things could have been worse.
“It was a warm wind, so it wasn’t horrible,” she said.
Hyman put the finishing touch on the victory by getting the ball across the gully fronting the No. 18 green for the first time all season. Pulling out her 5-wood for the shot, Hyman was already counting on taking a drop on the other side.
“I was just trying to hit it in the gully,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d make it across. I have no idea how I hit it as far as I did. I made it across by a lot.”
Griffin and Hyman kept the focus all day on fun, not competition.
“It was a lot of fun,” Hyman said. “We’ve got to get more women out here playing.”
Pat Bowen was low net for the seniors at 137, while Tom Reese was second at 142, Mike Kebschull was third at 144, Rene Alvarez was fourth at 146 and Dave Litchfield was fifth at 148.
Closest to the pin winners Saturday were Morin on No. 5, Reed on No. 9, Bowen on No. 10 and Litchfield on No. 14. Sunday’s closest to the pin winners were Kahakauwila on No. 5, Bill Davis on No. 9, Kahakauwila on No. 10 and Davis on No. 14.
Saturday, Kebschull won a pair of skins, while Davis also had a skin. Sunday, Griffin and Bowen each had two skins, while Reed, Chuck Ruppenthal and Litchfield had skins.
Donald R. Morgan Club Championship
Saturday, Sunday at Kenai Golf Course
Sat Sun Net Grs
Charlie Kahakauwila 80 83 139 163
Tom Reese 82 86 142 168
Dave Litchfield 82 88 148 170
Pat Bowen 87 84 137 171
Rene Alvarez 83 89 146 172
Mike Kebschull 87 91 144 178
Bill Davis 90 88 156 178
Kirk Hyman 95 85 154 180
Chuck Ruppenthal 88 93 151 181
Bobby Bush 93 101 164 194
John Gibson WD
Chris Morin 84 87 159 171
Andrew Reed 97 93 168 190
Marianne Hyman 97 97 136 194