Despite no sun, Higgins still fun

Bremerton golfer Doug Dawson tries to chip onto the green during last Thursday’s 42nd annual Tim Higgins Memorial Golf Tournament. Dawson shot an 89 for the Knights. - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Bremerton golfer Doug Dawson tries to chip onto the green during last Thursday’s 42nd annual Tim Higgins Memorial Golf Tournament. Dawson shot an 89 for the Knights.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

While the sunshine decided not to flood the Kitsap Golf & Country Club on Thursday, instead replaced by rain spells and high winds, nothing could dampen the area’s top high school invitational golf tournament.

“Higgins is the jewel,” Olympic boys golf coach Jim Rosendale said. “It’s the event, not so much as prestigious, but everyone gets together.”

The 42nd Annual Tim Higgins Memorial Golf Tournament went off without a hitch despite less-than-ideal weather.

The tournament, in memory of the late Tim Higgins, offered all the things that continue to make it one of the top tourneys around.

Once again, the tournament brought together the best of the area’s prep golfers, with teams from North Kitsap, Central Kitsap, South Kitsap, Olympic, Klahowya, Bremerton, North Mason, Chimacum, Sequim, Port Townsend, Peninsula and Port Angeles. Last year’s team champions, Bainbridge, did not return.

South Kitsap shot 299 as a team, topping the next closest team by 36 strokes. South’s Joel Shenfeld had the top score of 72 on the par-71 course. No SK golfer topped 78.

But above and beyond the action on the links, the tournament again brought everyone on the Olympic Peninsula together for another year of friends, food and remembrance.

“I think Mr. and Mrs. Higginson are always so warm, cordial and inviting,” Bremerton golf coach Chuck Huhta said. “You see the same people working here every year. It’s great. It just feels good.”

Tim would have been 59 this July 20. His parents, Joe and Katie, and Tim’s best friend, Mike Ogg, were again joined by a slew of volunteers from the community to make the event happen. Once golfing completes, everyone comes together for a large barbecue, with jokes and smiles abound.

“They show up every year,” Rosendale said. “That’s what makes the tourney work. It’s a peninsula event. If you’re a team on the Olympic Peninsula and you want that end-of-the-year kind of thing, this is it.”

Bremerton finished eighth overall at the 12-team tourney, led by Kyle Bermel’s 83. Brad Guzman shot an 87 and Nick VanRuth and Doug Dawson both shot 89s. Huhta said the tournament was a nice way to reward his seniors for their hard work over the past four years.

“I always bring my seniors,” Huhta said. “If they’ve been with me since they’ve been a freshman, I always bring them.”

And this season, that’s the bulk of the squad.

“They are kind of the crux of the team,” Huhta said. “After this year, it’ll be kind of a rebuilding year.”

In addition to the tournament itself, Huhta said the Kitsap Golf & Country Club did a great job of hosting the tourney once again.

“Kitsap always does a good job of putting it on,” he said. “The kids just like doing it.”

But in addition to being a fun time for all parties, Huhta said it’s also competitively beneficial since the tourney takes a “real golf” format.

“What’s different here is you don’t bring a full team,” Huhta said. “You just bring four. And it’s different from a regular match because there’s no double-bogey pick up. It’s real golf.”

And with the playoffs rapidly approaching, Huhta said the team can use all the competition it can get, especially with the season heating back up.

“We started out exceptionally well,” Huhta saiid. “Then we lost a match by two strokes, then by one stroke. Now we’re kind of on the rebound.”

Part of that is thanks to golfers like VanRuth, who Huhta said is starting to hit a groove.

“Nick VanRuth has been really coming along,” Huhta said. “He gets up every morning at 5 (a.m.) to go work out. He has really improved since he was a freshman. He’s a terrific putter. When a pressure putt needs to be made, he makes it.”

But VanRuth’s work ethic is one they all shared, as Huhta said smiling while pointing at his players leaving the Higgins to go golf at Gold Mountain Golf Complex, the team’s home course.

“They’ve already gone off to play. They love the game,” Huhta said. “We just enjoy it. The worst thing about this golf season has been the weather. But these guys, every day they’re there. But its been very enjoyable. It’s a good group of kids to work with.”

Which has Huhta hopeful for this season’s postseason.

“Since we’re in a new league this year, I’m hoping at least get one of my kids gets into the state tourney,” he said.

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