Local golfers dreaming of Pebble Beach

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 1, 2002

Pebble Beach is a golfing Mecca and three Brookhavenites areanxious to make an appearance on the fabled northern Californiacourse. Dr. Braxter Irby, Dr. Ray Montalvo and Mike Smith will joinMadison resident David Coleman for the National CadillacInvitational at Pebble Beach in January.

The four-day tournament benefits the National Kidney Foundation.Championship teams from over 100 satellite tournaments qualifiedfor the nationals. The Mississippi team qualified by winning an18-hole scramble at the Annandale Golf Club in early June. Theyshot a 15-under 57 and won a scorecard playoff.

Irby explained some of the Cadillac golf tournament rules. “Youmust have four amateur golfers whose golf index is 43.4 or more.And only one player with handicap index of eight or less.

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“David Coleman is our A player,” Irby pointed out. “He is quitegood. The rest of us are in the 13-16 stroke handicap range.”

At Annandale, they tied with another team and won a scorecardplayoff. “We birdied four of the top handicap holes.”

Almost the same team went to the nationals two years ago.

“We went our there and played and finished about 50th in about110 teams,” said Irby. Coleman, Smith, Galean Morris and Irby hadqualified for the nationals. “Two days prior to the tournament,Smith came down with pneumonia and I asked Ray Montalvo to fillin,” said Irby.

“It’s probably the most gorgeous golf course in this country.It’s certainly rich with tradition. We have to work hard to get ourgame in better shape.”

Two years ago Irby said the weather was stormy. Golfers playfour courses on the Monterey Peninsula: Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach,Bayonet, probably the most difficult, has been renovated, and OldDel Monte.

“We are definitely looking forward to it,” said Montalvo. “Thelevel of competition out there is very good.”

Looking back on the tournament at Annandale, Montalvo said, “Wehad a competitive team. The putts were falling that day. We madethe shots and converted the putts.”

Coleman has won the state am in the past. “He’s close to ascratch golfer,” said Montalvo.

Smith remembered the illness which cost him a trip to PebbleBeach. “I got pneumonia last time so I didn’t go. We got Montalvoto go. I’m looking forward to it.”

Golfers must pay a package fee at Pebble Beach but it is wellworth the price of admission. The $750 fee includes a golf shirt, apair of shoes, golf balls and four rounds of golf. The prodigiousgreen fee at Pebble Beach is $350 for 18 holes. “You have to call ayear ahead to get a tee time,” said Smith.

At Annandale it cost $200 per golfer to play in district orstate qualifiers. All proceeds go to the National KidneyFoundation.

“Montalvo really played well,” said Smith. “He made a 30-footeagle putt on 18.”

Riding the strong shoulders of their A player, they watchedColeman hit it on the picturesque par-5 18th in two.

Coleman is a former state amateur champ. He also has won theprestigious Norman Bryant Invitational.

“Mike and I have played a lot of golf together,” said Coleman.”I used to work with him. He got me started in the insurancebusiness.”

Irby was in a member-guest tournament with Coleman at Annandale.They wound up winning it all about a year ago.

Coleman has become a regular in the Tucker Smith Labor DayMemorial Tournament at the Brookhaven Country Club. Mike Smith,Tucker’s father; and Jeff Henning started the tournament to honorhis son, a West Point graduate who was killed in an automobileaccident. Proceeds benefit the Lincoln County Habitat forHumanity.

Coleman uses Callaway woods and irons plus Titleist Vokeywedges. He prefers a Titleist Bullseye putter.

A 1-handicapper, Coleman said putting and chipping are the keysto mastering the game of golf. He is a member of the ColonialCountry Club..

Coleman said he was looking forward to the return trip. “It’severy bit worth the money. Pebble Beach is heaven on earth forgolfers.”

Recalling the last visit to Pebble Beach, Coleman said, “We hada blast.”