By David Rogers. BLOWING ROCK, N.C. — Under normal circumstances, making a hole-in-one on a long par-5 is challenging, if not impossible for all but the most superhuman of golfers. Thanks to a mixture of gimmicks common to many charity fundraisers, such aces can be a dime a dozen — and they bring great smiles while serving a terrific cause.
In a former life, Jeff Crittenden may have been the front man for a traveling medicine show, hawking “magic” elixirs to coax dollars and cents out of the pockets of the gullible. On May 9, he was a fun addition to the Coaches Golf Tournament at Blowing Rock Country Club, in benefit of the High Country Caregivers non-profit.
Crittenden is a 2-time winner of the World Long Drive Championship in the Masters Division (2017 and 2019) and a 2014 near winner in the regular man’s division.
For the Coaches event, Crittenden was positioned near the championship tees at BRCC’s No. 11, entertaining the golfers as they came through with trick shots and drives that made even the most burly of duffers gulp in awe. For an extra donation — and there were many takers — you could use one of his drives (straight up the fairway, more than 300 yards) or, for even more generosity in benefit of the non-profit, you could be lying “zero” on the green, roughly 15 feet from the cup. If someone in the competing foursome makes the putt it is, WHALAH!, a hole-in-one.
High Country Sports witnessed at least one “ace” during the midday event at BRCC and undoubtedly there were several more.
It was all in great fun for a good cause and there was plenty for the 72 tournament entrants and 18 coaches and celebrities to talk about — and smile about.
Event organizers breathed a sigh of relief when the early morning rain stopped and it only delayed the shotgun start by a little more than an hour. Everyone was pleased that the heavy fog that blanketed the 2022 tournament did not materialize a year later.
Former Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore, whose wife Margaret is on the High Country Caregivers board, was instrumental in bringing a lot of coaching star power to what has become one of the High Country’s most popular fundraisers. In addition to Moore, also on hand were current University of North Carolina head coach and former Texas and App State head coach Mack Brown; current University of Cincinnati and former Louisville and App State head coach Scott Satterfield; current North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren; UNC Senior Advisor and former App State head coach Sparky Woods; current App State head coach Shawn Clark; App State Senior Assistant Lance Ware; App State Assistant Coach Trey Kavanaugh; current Furman head coach Clay Hendrix; App State men’s basketball head coach Dustin Kerns; former Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern and Navy head coach Paul Johnson; former NC State and NBA basketball player Tommy Burleson; former athletic director Auburn, Colorado State, Idaho, Pittsburgh, Chattanooga, Jacksonville State and former head coach at Gardner-Webb and assistant at Wake Forest, South Carolina, North Carolina, The Citadel, and Wyoming, Oval Jaynes; former defensive back at UNC Eric Thomas; retired U.S Marine First Lieutenant and inspirational speaker Clebe McClary; and former NFL defensive tackle Larry Hand.
Paul Johnson and his team whittled away the competition with a gross score of 55 in the Captain’s Choice format, while Clebe McClary’s team leveraged Michael Comer’s “hole in one” on No. 11 to record a top finishing net score of 50.
Ron Gibson proved to be the best putter and Matt Rice executed the best second shot.
Susan Barrow proved to be the long hitter among the ladies with a longest drive on No. 3 and Michael Comer followed up his faux ace on No. 11 with a booming drive on No. 14.
Closest to the pin honors went to different golfers on each of the four par-3 holes, including Micah Fuller on No. 2, Ben Sholer on No. 6, Sam Glover on No. 15, and Dee Dee Rominger on No. 16.
The money has not all been counted, but it is known to be more than $50,000 when an anonymous donor contributed $25,000 at the May 8 dinner with the provision that it at least be matched by collective donations from others in the audience. With Blowing Rock’s Jenny Miller serving as auctioneer, some $26,000 was raised in less than 10 minutes.
Editor’s Note: This story will be updated when we have received more information.
GOLF TOP FINISHERS
1st place – Gross: Score (55) Tim Kearns, Matt Rice, William McDaniel, Cameron Pierce, Paul Johnson
2nd place – Gross: Score (56) Jay Howard, Danny Morrison, Micah Fuller, Will Pitts, Clay Hendrix
3rd place – Gross: Score (57) David Robbins, Raleigh Avery, Richard Avery, David Burleson, Tommy Burleson
1st place – Net: Score (50) Mike Doble, Bob Comer, Michael Comer, Kenny Griffin, Clebe McClary
2nd place – Net: Score (51) Mack Patterson, Taylor Patterson, Sam Akers, Sumner Patterson, Eric Thomas
3rd place – Net: Score (51) Jeff Greene, Mitchell Greene, Tim Greene, Calvin Greene, Trey Kavanaugh
Putting contest winner – Ron Gibson
Best 2nd shot – Matt Rice
Longest Drive – Susan Barrow (Ladies) Hole #3
Longest Drive – Michael Comer (Men) Hole #14
Closest to the Pin
- #2 Micah Fuller 4’
- #6 Ben Sholer 4’3”
- #15 Sam Glover 3’3”
- #16 Dee Dee Rominger 12’2”