Noga Sets Milestone
WALSENBURG- After R. Gary Vezzini announced the winners of the 34th Annual Walsenburg Invitational tournament, he mentioned this was Larry "Tubby" Noga′s 34th consecutive Invitational, the only player to achieve this record. There were raised eyebrows among those duffers who stayed for the recognition of flight winners.
Larry "Tubby" Noga was one of the original members of the Walsenburg Golf Club Association when the golf course opened in 1965. During the time when the tourney was just an idea, Tubby was on the committee set up by the Board of Directors. They envisioned a club tournament for members only who would in turn invite "outside" golfers to play, so in 1976 the club staged its first tournament. Tubby was in the first group of golfers to play that event, and he has not missed an Invitational since. Noga, who turned 70 this year, is still in the first flight (those golfers with the lowest handicaps) after thirty-four consecutive years. While his handicap has increased, Tubby still hits the ball straight and consistent. According to Tubby, "I′m going to make it an even thirty-five tournaments playing in the first flight; then who knows.""
Noga′s team of himself, Rodney Noga and Rodger Lowe finished in the middle of the pack this year. The competition was tough, including past winners as well as the Pueblo City champion, a below-par golfer whose team finished in second place.
Noga is familiar with what it’s like to win championships. In his tenure of forty-three years at the clubhouse, Tubby has won the Invitational in 1980, the Coal Miners Classic in 1993 and eight individual club championships. While age and health have slowed him down a bit, Tubby is still a fixture at the clubhouse, never missing an opportunity to swing the clubs and be present on the nineteenth green.
When asked how the nickname came to be, he replied, "I was thirteen and one-half pounds when I was born. My mother’s mid-wife took one look at me and told my mother, “you’ve got yourself a tubby,” so the name stuck.
WALSENBURG- A thirty-minute rain delay Sunday afternoon could not deter the team of Kenneth Maes, Leo Maes Jr. and Leo Maes III from claiming the 34th annual Walsenburg Invitational Tournament held June 21-22 with a net combined two-day score of 107.50 in this best ball scramble format. The Maes team won Sunday′s round thanks to the long ball driving of Leo Maes III and the short games of his father, Leo Jr., and Uncle Ken. They shot eleven under par to earn the victory.
The Maes team competed in the first flight, fending off tough competition to claim their title. As the Maes team began play Sunday, they knew they had to beat a combined score of 114.1 brought in by the forth-flight winning team of Ken Ricci, Leo Sager and Herman Gallegos. Second-flight winners were the team of Wayne Chase, Ed Ludvik and Vince Collera. Third-flight honors went to the team of Mike Dasko, Gabe Dasko and R. Gary Vezzini with a score of 116.4.
The competition was tough as twenty-four teams of three vied for top honors in four flights arranged by handicap and ability. They also played for a chance to win ten thousand dollars in a hole-in-one contest sponsored by Community Banks of Southern Colorado. The par three, 15th hole saw no takers and the money was left in the coffers of the bank once again. A few claimed to be close, holding their hands a foot apart, but the best they could do was walk away with a birdie.
This was the third year the tournament used a three-man scramble format with a combined team handicap. In the past, the format was a two-man handicap format. This change in the system allows everyone playing to compete for the title and any team to conquer. According to R. Gary Vezzini, "deriving the handicaps is the result of a complex handicapping system which combines the course rating, actual handicap and the average of the ten lowest scores you shoot." This is the Colorado Golf association system and when applied to members of a particular team, odd averages may occur.
The festivities began Friday evening with a Team Evaluation where players as well as friends and family predicted who they felt would take the tournament. The evening was an event where players could get reacquainted. The tournament brings in players from California, Arizona, and Virginia, as well as points in between and throughout all of Colorado. The tournament is an economic windfall for the city and county. With the Black Diamond Jubilee also this weekend, the city was active.
The next two major tournaments are the Coal Miners and Senior Open July 19-20 and the Clovis Memorial Invitational on July 25-26.
GREELEY- La Veta Redskin Carlee Koutnik capped off her high school basketball career on a high note as she participated in the 52nd annual Colorado High School Coaches Association (CHCSA) All-State game held on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado June 13-14.
Koutnik played for the Red Team which finished third in the four-team tourney. Koutnik was able to play with women from 1A through 5A divisions. She commented, “I was impressed to be able to keep up with the level of play the 5A girls displayed. It was quite an experience.”
Koutnik was one of two girls from the ranks of 1A to participate for her team. The other was Emma Coburn of Crested Butte. Coburn lighted up the scoreboard as Crested Butte upset the Redskins in the Regional basketball playoffs last March. The other player selected for the Red team whom Koutnik has faced in past competition was Lindsey Grasmick of Fowler who defeated Koutnik in the 300m hurdles at the state track finals. Many of the women who participated are multi-sport athletes, truly all-stars.
Koutnik will leave for the Air Force Academy today to pursue her academic career. Carlee is the daughter of Vince and Diane Koutnik.