Hooray for our men’s golf tournament champions

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By Elsa Bonstein, Golf Gab

Since it was started in 2004, the Brunswick Beacon Tournament of Champions has grown steadily. This year we have 18 clubs participating. The tournament is by invitation only to the men’s and ladies’ champions at golf courses in Brunswick County that have memberships.
Several of our men are repeats from previous years but we also have a few new champions. It’s been an exciting year for the golfers of Brunswick County. Today we salute all the guys who won club championships in 2013.
Brick Landing, George Jacob:
Jacob grew up in Baltimore, playing street sports from neighborhood to neighborhood. He grew up to become a competitive bowler and carried a 210 average for many years.  
“Back in those days, the guys would throw their money in a pot and play for it. We toured around the country before the PBA (Professional Bowling Association),” he said. “I started playing golf with my bowling buddies. Back then, I belonged to Hunt Valley, just outside Baltimore. We had a house with several acres in the back and I’d go there to practice and hit balls.”  
He will not compete in the Tournament of Champions because he is recovering from meniscus surgery.
Brierwood, Dave Lucas:  
A new club champion, Lucas is from Martin’s Ferry, Ohio. He started playing golf when he was 9 and went on to play in high school and at Florida Atlantic University, at that time a Division II school. He practices every week.
“The best place to bring your score down is in the short game,” he said. “There’s pressure in golf, but I was a professional fisherman for 18 years, and there’s a lot more pressure there. Are the fish running or not? How do I catch the big one?”
Brunswick Plantation, Dave Mambro:
This is a repeat year for Dave Mambro, who won the Brunswick Plantation Championship in 2012.
“I wasn’t nervous at all this year,” he said. “I just decided to take it easy and play the best I can. I was five behind going into the last day. I inched my way forward and then chipped in on the 17th hole to move ahead.”
Mambro’s passion is rescuing community cats andis a volunteer with Paws-Ability.
Cape Fear National, Harry Moore: 
A new resident of Brunswick County, Harry and his wife, Susan, moved here from Goldsboro. Harry is a physical therapist who started playing serious golf at the age of 38.
“I played a little when I was in college, but really got into it when we joined Walnut Creek Country Club in Goldsboro,” he said. “I won the Senior Men’s Championship there in 2011 and still keep my membership active.”
Dave works part time as a physical therapist, but still has enough time to play golf three or four days a week. His wife is also a golfer.
In the rest of his spare time, Dave plays saxophone in the Starlight Dance Band.
Carolina National, Richard Curwen:
Richard Curwen has won the championship at Carolina National four times (2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010) and won the Tournament of Champions in 2004.
He is from Scotland and immigrated to western Canada when he was 25. Working for a paper company, Richard lived in Wisconsin and London.
The championship at Carolina National was played in terrible weather and Curwen claims he just outlasted the field.
“No one played well, but I managed to be tied at the end and then to win in a one-hole playoff,” he said.  
“I haven’t really been focused on my game this year. My wife and I decided we wanted to travel more while we were still able and healthy, so golf took a backseat to trips to Peru, Equador, the Canadian Maritimes Provinces, Scotland, Turkey and Greece.”
Carolina Shores, Walt Hensler:
Walt Hensler won the men’s championship at Carolina Shores last year and repeats this year.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Hensler was a high school coach (basketball and football) and a teacher and eventually became the athletics director of a large high school in Durham.  
Consistent shooting helped Hensley win this year with scores of 75-76.
“Carolina Shores is in great shape and we have some wonderful competitions,” he said. “The men’s organization and the staff here at Carolina Shores did a fine job of running our two-day championship.”
Crow Creek, Brian Nordberg:
This was Brian Nordberg’s first championship.
“My partner and I won the member-member competition earlier this year and now I won the championship,” he said. “I love living here and playing golf with 40 of my closest friends.
“I was on call for jury duty and didn’t think I could play in the tournament. They called me the night before telling me I wasn’t needed, so there was no time to get nervous.”
Nordberg moved here last year from Port Jefferson, N.Y., where he was a fifth-grade teacher for 34 years. He started playing golf in college, and although he was a member of the Harbor Links in Port Jefferson, his first love was bowling.
“This was my first year of serious competition on the golf course and it was good.”  
Farmstead/Meadowland, Bob Claffey:
Bob Claffey won the Farmstead/Meadowlands championship in 2011 and is back this year.
“I’m 70 years old and shot a 69 earlier this year,” he said. “In the tournament I played awful on the first day and was behind by seven shots. On the second day, I got eight shots back and won by one stroke.”
Claffey likes to practice his game, but in his spare time he goes to Sunset Beach to swim and, by his own admission, to girl-watch a bit.
The Lakes, Rick Hamilton:
Like several of our champions, Rick Hamilton repeats his 2012 victory this year.
“We played two days and I was under par on the first day, then followed that with a not-so-good round of 81, but it was enough to win,” he said. “We had good weather and the course was in great shape and that helped.”
A couple of days before the championship, Rick had a hole-in-one on No. 17, his first. He also has a new grandson, Liam, so it was a very good year.
Rick is retired military. After a 20-year career in the Army, he retired and now works as a civilian at Sunny Point, the largest military transport center in the world.
Lockwood Folly, Mike Verhoosky:
Mike Verhoosky is a seasoned competitor who has won the Lockwood Folly men’s club championship six out of the last seven years. In 2007 and 2012, he won the Tournament of Champions.
“The weather was bad with rain squalls during the second day of the tournament,” he said. “I shot 73 in all that mess and won the tournament.”
Verhoosky is from Connecticut, where he taught physical education and coached basketball and golf. He attended Southern Connecticut State University and played on its golf team.
The tallest of our champions, Verhoosky recovered well from shoulder surgery several years ago and remains one of our longest hitters. He plays and practices several times a week.
Magnolia Greens, Dale Porter:
Dale Porter won the Magnolia Greens championship in 2012 and again in 2013.
A fierce competitor, Porter plays golf every day after work and on weekends and in local, state and national competitions. He was ranked 21st in the Golfweek Senior Amateur Rankings on Nov. 1.
“It was a crazy year for the Magnolia Greens championship,” he said. “We played 12 holes, then it rained. We played 15 holes, and got more rain. The tournament was rescheduled. I shot 68 in the first round and that gave me a good start. I didn’t do as well the next round but still won by nine shots.”
In 2010, Porter won the Wilmington City Senior Amateur Championship. In 2013 he tied for fifth in the Chechesse Creek Senior Invitational in Okatie, S.C.; tied for ninth at the Eagle Point Senior Invitational in Wilmington and was 11th in the Jack Hessler Society of Seniors Invitational in Ohio and the Golfweek Senior National Championship in Florida.
Oak Island Club, Billy Sturtevant:
His victory this year at the Oak Island Club is Billy Sturtevant’s first club championship.
He grew up in Fuquay-Varina. He started playing golf at 15, played in high school in the No. 1 position for three out of four years and made all-conference. He attended ECU and played on its golf team his freshman year.  
Today, Sturtevant works for IBM as a sales manager. He lives in the Raleigh area and has a condo at Oak Island and a membership at the Oak Island Club.
“My dad won the club champion at the Bentwinds Country Club in Fuquay-Varina many times and for years, I put pressure on myself to do the same,” Sturtevant said. “I was runner-up three times at Bentwinds, but never won. Now I have my own trophy at my own course here.”
Ocean Ridge, Tom Oxenfeld:
The championship at Ocean Ridge is played on three courses. Oxenfeld won in 2012 and again this year.
“I had a four-shot lead after the first day and a seven-shot lead after 36 holes,” he said. “The lead dwindled until I was one shot ahead with 11 holes to go. I realized that only one person could beat me — and that was myself. I played well the rest of the round and won by eight strokes.
“I discovered that it is hard to be in the lead. I won two championships in Pennsylvania, but always from behind. In last year’s tournament, I came from behind. 2013 was a whole new experience.”
Oxenfeld moved here from Philadelphia. He grew up in Wilmington and started playing golf when he was 12, playing at Masonboro Country Club.   
This year Oxenfeld won the Wilmington Senior Amateur and qualified for the Carolina Senior Amateur and the North Carolina Senior Amateur.  
Rivers Edge, Terry Sinay:
Terry Sinay has won the club championship at Rivers Edge six out the last seven years. A relaxed golfer, Sinay enjoys competition.
“I relax and just let things happen,” he said. “Confidence helps me to play better. The best thing about winning the club championship at Rivers Edge is the chance to represent the club at the next level of competition.”
Sinay is from Connecticut. He’s been playing golf since he was young and never had a lesson. In 2011 he shot a 65 to set the Rivers Edge course record at that time.
While working for Pfizer, Sinay played in company tournaments and especially enjoyed the annual Pfizer Championship.
“Hundred of participants played in the event, qualifying for the championship from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. I came in second twice, then finally won it one year.”
Sandpiper Bay, Garry Cofer:
Garry Cofer moved here from Jacksonville, Fla., last March. He grew up and lived in La Plata, Md., then moved to Jacksonville for nine years.
Cofer started playing golf when he was young, played on the high school team and won a few championships in Maryland. He is a self-taught golfer.
“I play against par and hope for the best,” he said. “I can shoot par and lose a tournament, but I always play the best that I can. I love the game and have good eye-hand coordination and am able to learn through repetition.”
Sea Trail, Peter Salak:
From New Jersey, Peter Salak played golf in high school and belonged to an after-school ‘golf club’ that one of the teachers ran.
“We played nine holes after school at the East Orange Country Club, and that’s where I really learned to play.” he said.
Salak attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., where he played on the golf team. He went on to get a MBA from Duke.  
Salak won the championship at Sea Trail by shooting a blistering 303 over four days of play.  
St. James, John Vig:
This is John Vig’s first club championship. He learned to play golf when he was 9 and caddying for his dad.
“I listened and I learned what to do and what not to do,” he said. “I liked the game, but had to drop it in order to play football, baseball and basketball in high school. I started playing golf again in my late 20s. I read a few books, took a few lessons, but I’m mostly self-taught.”
Vig worked for the Trenton, N.J., Board of Education in food service for 32 years. He came to the area with a golf group each year, and in 2003 he bought property at St. James.
The championship was close until the last nine holes of the three- day competition.
“I had four birdies in the last nine holes; one of them was a 25-footer on the 18th green,” he said. “My partner and I also won the member-member this year.”    
Thistle, Rick Goudy:
Rick Goudy grew up near Fort Worth, Texas, and like so many other champions he learned to how to golf while caddying for his dad. He won a club championship in Texas, but this is his first win in his new location. Last year, he came in second at the Thistle Club.
“This year, I was tied after the first day, then came back strong and won it in the last four holes of competition,” he said.  
Goudy lives at Tidewater in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., and is a member of the Thistle Club.
“My new hobby is repairing and building golf clubs,” he said. “It takes skill and is almost an art form. I love doing it and often fit and make clubs for my friends.”
Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at elanbon@atmc.net. Follow her at facebook.com/elsa.bonstein.