Brandon Kaiser of Moose Run Golf Course in Anchorage had a 10-foot putt to win him and his partner, Chris Wright of Palmer Golf Course, $5,000 on Monday at the State Farm Pro-Am and All-Alaska Skins Game at Birch Ridge Golf Course.
As the pair discussed the putt, Wright was feeling confident.
“I had the feeling that he’d make it more than he’d miss it,” Wright said.
That all changed with the “tap” off of Kaiser’s putter.
“I thought it was short the whole way,” Wright said. “I was going to have to rip him if it was.”
No ripping necessary. Just congratulations.
Kaiser’s putt made it to the hole with only a revolution or two to spare as the duo made off with all nine skins and $5,000.
“That was pretty awesome,” Kaiser said. “We don’t get to do that up here too often anymore. No matter how many times you do it, it still gets the juices flowing.”
In the skins game, six two-person teams were competing in alternate shot. In the skins game format, one team must post the lowest score on a hole to earn the money assigned to the hole. If two teams tie on the hole, the money is pushed to the next hole.
After playing 18 holes earlier in the day in the cold and rain, and with the rain persisting throughout the skins game, the pros were having trouble scoring.
Kaiser said everything was wet and squishy, making things just a bit more difficult.
“It’s a tough little track,” he said of Birch Ridge.
The par-4 first hole, dead straight with a welcoming green at 325 yards, is usually an automatic birdie for one or more teams in the skins game, but when everyone parred that hole, it was a sign of things to come.
The pars, and the money, kept piling up, with the only birdie push coming on the par-5, 495-yard fifth hole.
On the sixth hole, Billy Bomar, who now owns a golf course in Idaho, had to brush in a knee-knocking 5-footer for a par that kept George Collum and James Contreras from a skin.
More pars on Nos. 7 and 8 had all $5,000 sitting on the table for the ninth hole, a dogleg left par 4 at 215 yards. Kaiser cut the corner perfectly on his drive, leaving Wright with a tricky 40-yard chip. In order to give Kaiser a chance, Wright had to get the ball on the top tier of the three-tiered green and he did just that.
“I wanted to stay aggressive, but I didn’t want to hit it too long,” Wright said.
Wright was happy with the distance but not happy that he pushed the chip 10 feet to the right.
Little did Kaiser know he was about to get a big assist from Birch Ridge’s Bill Engberg, who had mowed the greens that morning. Engberg told Kaiser after the event that the green had been triple-cut because there would be some high-dollar putts rolling on it.
“I needed it quadruple-cut,” Kaiser said. “Then it would have gone right in the center.”
Kaiser turned pro at this every event in 2008 and won the pro-am that year. He had won a few skins before, but never put up the highest dollar amount. Wright had also won a few skins, but never the most money.
The haul of $5,000 is the most ever won by a team at the event, topping the $4,500 of Contreras and Rich Lundahl in 2011. The late Billy Casper played in the first skins game back in 1997, when the tournament was an individual and not a team event, and won $4,100, which is still the most an individual has taken home from the event.
Zac Cowan, owner of Birch Ridge Golf Course, added that the event was “a little heavy” for the pros because it was the first without skins game mainstay Trevis Kordus, who died on Jan. 25.
Bomar and his team of Gary Davis, George Stein and Tyler Yamada won the pro-am, while Collum and his team of Dave Matthews, JD Mitchell and Todd Collum were second and Rob Nelson and his team of Mark Dolejsi, Marcus Dolejsi and Nick Karnos were third.
Nelson was the top pro with a 2-under 68, while Aaron Dexheimer was second at 69 and Wright was third at 71.
For amateurs, Max Dye had the top gross score at 72, while Eddie Sibolboro was second at 74 and Nick Beeson was third at 77. Top net was won by Yamada at 61, while Davis was second at 63 and Sid Cox was third at 64.