Sunshine soothes at 39th Higgins

Brad Guzman shoots a put en route to a 91 at the Higgins Memorial Tournament. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Brad Guzman shoots a put en route to a 91 at the Higgins Memorial Tournament.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Like many golfers at last week’s Higgins Memorial Golf Tournament, Bremerton felt like they could have done a little better.

But with the sun shining and clear skies all around, at least it wasn’t class.

The 39th Higgins Memorial Tournament, in its 40th year overall, went off without a hitch last week at the Kitsap Golf & Country Club.

“I was hoping we would shoot better than we did,” Bremerton golf coach Chuck Huhta said. “But I figured we’d be about where we were. And what a nice day. It’s like I told the kids.

“‘Would you rather be in engineering or here?’”

The answer was obvious as 12 total teams came together to celebrate not only the sport, but Tim Higgins’ memory.

Higgins was a 17-year-old student at West Bremerton High School when he died in 1965. The tournament did not take place in 1967 as West Bremerton did not field a golf team due to a failed levy.

Bainbridge’s Austin Hurt shot a 3-under 68 to take individual honors while anchoring the Spartans to the team title as well. Bainbridge just edged Port Townsend 305 to 308 to capture the Higgins crown for the fifth time in school history and first since 1981.

Bremerton had 351 team points, good for ninth place overall.

Inaugural winner Mike Ogg, a close friend of Higgins, was also in attendance to address the golfers.

“I’d just like to thank Joe (father) and Katie (mother) Higgins and their daughter Pam,” Ogg, a West Bremerton graduate, said. “Just everything (volunteers) do to put this on for 40 years.”

Knight Nick Van Ruth, who shot an 89 to finish second for Knight golfers behind Kyle Spitzer’s 80, agreed with his coach, saying he wished he had performed better, but enjoyed partaking in the tournament.

“I had a few rough holes,” Van Ruth said. “Other than that it was good. I like (the tournament). You get to play with the other kids, you get out of school early.”

In addition to Spitzer and Van Ruth, Brad Guzman and Luke Henry each fired a 91 in the four-man team tournament.

In terms of the experience for his players, Huhta said it’s nice to put the kids up against other golfers they either wouldn’t see until the postseason or may not see at all.

“It’s competitive, playing with the different guys,” Huhta said, also mentioning that the tournament goes to postseason rules instead of Narrows League rules, which allow for a double-bogey pickup for example. “And this is real golf. There’s no double-bogey pickup.

“Ask some of the kids and they’ll say, ‘I shot an 83.’ But with the double-bogey in there, what they really shot is higher.”

Bremerton will get ready for the Narrows League Championships, which begin on Wednesday in Lake Spanaway.

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