By CYRIL TUOHY, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®
Armed with titanium drivers, the latest in cavity-backed golfing irons and space-age putters, attendees of the 19th Annual Vermont Captive Open Golf Tournament blasted their way through Burlington's Vermont National Country Club with scores way below par.
Even the toughest holes on the Jack Nicklaus 2nd-designed course succumbed to the relentless pressure from a phalanx of single-digit handicap players and veterans of Vermont National's layout and course subtleties.
Willis Managing Director J. Oliver Heyliger, an eight-handicap player from Bermuda and veteran of Vermont National, and Gary Bowers, a five-handicap player and partner with Johnson Lambert & Co. LLP, let their swings do the talking.
Bowers, driving his ball far enough to reach the green of the first hole, only 292 yards from the designated tee box, drew a frantic wave from the foursome in front. Bowers, in his Southern drawl, apologized softly and politely as he drove up on the course's signature green carts.
The incident was quickly relegated to a historical footnote in the annals of the VCIA Golf Tournament, and players moved on and around the 6,211-yard layout. Even a brief lunchtime downpour on the 7:30 a.m. tee-off group couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of the outing, which typically draws about 200 players.
The scramble format is a two-edge sword: It's a place to meet new faces and shoulder the responsibility of delivering quality shots when other golfing partners in the foursome come up short.
What happens when sworn enemies are paired with one another? It's an opportunity to pull together and make temporary peace for the sake of the greater good, the love of the game.
Winners of the tournament turned in scores way below par, as they delivered birdie after birdie after birdie. The best players were able to use their draws and fades to control their balls in direction of the fairways. The better putters began to drain putts from 12 and 15 feet after settling down and getting used to the greens.
Shouts of dismay as balls hit the pins but bounced back were audible from players on adjacent greens. Tournament organizers were merciful, allowing the teams to pick up their balls within two feet of the pin.
When it was all over, this winning foursome emerged: Peter Joy, executive vice president, Aon Insurance Managers USA; John Lower, executive vice president of Behnke & Co.; Mike Lusk, president of Agrinational Insurance Co.; and Michael Scott, manager of international insurance with Agrinational Ins. Co. The team finished with a 59, or 13 under par.
Hot on their heels were the second-place finishers of Heyliger; Cyril Tuohy, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®; Bowers; and Chris Kramer, senior vice president with Atlas Insurance Mgmt. Ltd.
"We had such fun playing together," said Kramer, speaking after the award ceremonies.
Kramer and his foursome completed the round with a final score of 60, one shot behind the leaders.
Tied for second place at 12 under par were Todd Thiesfeldt, partner with Saslow, Lufkin & Buggy LLP; Steve Kirsche, senior vice president of Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services Inc.; Jamie McAdam, and Rob Therrien, both directors of RCCS Insurance Company.
Closest-to-the-pin awards on the men's side went to Heyliger; and on the women's side to Tina Turax McCuin; senior vice president of TD Wealth Management, and Sarah Comerford, divisional vice president, Great American Insurance Co.
Longest-drive awards on the men's side went to Peter Bandarenko, director of sales, advanced markets, Prudential Financial; and on the women's side, to Avis Corbett.
While there were no holes in one, the hole-in-one prize of a few days stay at Stowe Mountain Lodge was nevertheless bestowed on Derick White, a former captive insurance regulator and now president of Strategic Risk Solutions (Vermont) Ltd.
August 14, 2009
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