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Just when we thought we’d seen it all in golf tourneys

Sat., May 4, 2013, midnight

Having harmed golf balls for roughly 43 years, I figure I’ve played in or heard about nearly every kind of tournament on the planet.

Wrong, again.

Night golf in Montana was cool. All those scrambles with seemingly every rule imaginable were fun. Individual tournaments, medal, match or Stableford, were challenging. I visited a website that listed tournament formats, side games and bets in alphabetical order. I stopped counting at 50 in the D’s.

I didn’t see an entry on that website resembling the Bang-Whacker Tournament, which turned 22 years old last week. Idaho’s Associated Logging Contractors puts on the annual event with the unusual combination of trapshooting and a nine-hole scramble – shotgun start, of course.

It’s right up Rich Landers’ alley, except for the golf.

“The Montana logging association had one. They called it the Hack ’n Blast, and that’s where the idea came from,” said organizer Don Hull, a Coeur d’Alene resident who retired from logging in 2009. “They started it, we plagiarized it.”

Individuals on five-player teams shoot at 25 clay targets at the Orofino Gun Club. Those scores result in a team average (usually in the 16-20 range), which is subtracted from the team’s scramble score on the roughly 2,700-yard, par-35 golf course in Orofino.

The tournament is part of the Associated Logging Contractors annual meetings. Last weekend was the ALC’s 47th such gathering. After meetings Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning, about 80 participants assembled for the Bang-Whacker.

“It’s just a good, fun, relaxing time,” said Steve Sherich, new ALC president. “It’s just a good way to go visit with people, team up with people that you may not know and you get to meet loggers and their wives or girlfriends from all over the state.

“You don’t have to be a good shooter or a good golfer but we usually try to put one good shooter and one good golfer on each team. I had 21 on trap. I’m a horrible golfer but you know every time you go out you get one or two swings that make you think maybe you could learn this game. The next time out you think maybe you can’t.”

Hull and the late Dave Kludt organized the first tournaments. The event has been held at several sites around the state. One year in Sun Valley snow had barely retreated from the golf course when players teed it up in late April.

“I think maybe the shooting takes a little more precedence but we’ve got it to where it’s pretty close,” Hull said. “I shoot once a year. Some of these guys shoot a lot. Bruce Baumgartner and his wife from Deary shoot in trapshooting events all over the country.

“We have a couple of (golf) ringers. There’s one guy out of Boise who’s like a 2-handicap.”

Asked whether there’s more razzing at the gun club or on the putting green, Hull cracked, “the putting green. They’re scared to razz them when they have a shotgun in hand.”

The winning team shot 3-under 32, minus a trapshooting average of 19.6 for a total of 12.4.

“We’ve never had a tie,” Hull said. “When you’re working with 19.6s and 17.2s you’re probably not going to have one. If we had one we’d have to have a playoff, on the golf course.”

For many in the logging industry in North Idaho and beyond, the tournament is something of a reunion, a chance to see familiar faces. Hull and many others have played in all 22 tournaments. He looks forward to the event every year.

“It’s a fun, fun deal,” said Hull, who still helps organize the tournament along with his wife. “For a lot of these guys they’re up against it all the time so it’s a just good, relaxing day.”

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