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Night golf tournament coming to Willow Creek

Special to the Daily Fear not, aliens have not landed. Members of the Eagle-Vail Golf Club's staff test out a glow-in-the-dark golf ball for July 28's Nitelite Golf Tournament at the Willow Creek Par-3. The tournament has a shotgun start at 9 p.m.
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EAGLE-VAIL ” Tee times can be strange.

A foursome sometimes may start at 8:27 a.m. ” not 8:26 or 8:28 ” because the starter sends groups out every 9 minutes.

Here’s an even odder tee time ” 9 p.m. on July 28.

The Eagle-Vail Golf Club is holding the Nitelite Golf Tournament Saturday after next at the Willow Creek Par-3 with a shotgun start after the sun goes down. It’s a two-person scramble ($40 per person) with part of the proceeds going to The First Tee program.

“The First Tee is a non-profit program that helps teach life skills through golf to all children,” Eagle-Vail head pro Ben Welsh said. “But it’s more directed to underprivileged children who cannot get into golf otherwise.”

The Eagle-Vail staff will line the greens of the 9-hole course with glow sticks. The flags will be fluorescent, as will the tee boxes. Golfer will get a glowing necklace so other players can see them, two glow-in-the-dark golf balls, a course bag tag and a glow-in-the-dark mug.

No word from the rules committee yet as to whether the mug may be used as a ball marker.

“I played in one before (in Denver) which was really fun,” Welsh said. “If you’ve ever tried hitting your ball with your eyes closed, it’s not very easy. Doing it at night time is similar.”

Strangers in the night

Willow Creek has long been a good place for beginners and families to play, not to mention anyone needed to work on their short game. The fifth hole at 125 yards is the longest on the 781-yard course.

But at night, things should get interesting.

“It’s all hand-eye coordination because you can usually see your swing,” said Kyle Tudor, who is helping organize the tournament. “You can usually see your stance. Now, you can’t see your club.”

The fifth hole is a challenge when the sun’s up. The green is small, guarded by a hill to the left and in back with a gully and water in front.

Nos. 6 and 8 are drop shots ” the later is a half sand wedge at most ” which will spice things up.

“They are going to be pretty extreme,” Tudor said. “We are going to have a lot of glow sticks out there to mark the water and let everybody know where things are. We don’t want golfers swimming. It should be a good time.

Speaking of swimming, water crosses No. 1 and is the big obstacle on No. 9.

“The best part is with a glow-in-the-dark ball, when you hit it in the water, you can still see it glowing,” Welsh joked.

Putting issues

While teeing off under the stars will likely be the most intimidating part for players, Welsh thinks it’s putting that could be difficult, even though Will Creek’s greens are pretty much flat.

“Putting is more challenging than you think,” he said. “Judging distance at night is difficult. You never know. You can see the glow stick and you know where to hit it. But as you get close to the green, it’s tough to tell.”

And that, according Welsh, even with the scramble format, could make the winning score about even par.

For those who might have an errant shot or two, there will be extra fluorescent golf balls on sale. The evening starts with a barbecue at 8 with a chipping and putting contest. Awards will follow at the end of the round.

For more information about the tournament, call (970) 949-5267.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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