44th Annual Eagle Open: Golf event features tribute to longtime chair Dick Shanahan

Lance Shearer

It was the 44th year for the Eagle Open – and it was the first one in many years without Dick Shanahan. With his wife Debra, he had chaired the event, along with dozens of other golf outings and charitable events, racking up scores of fundraisers with the duo at the helm.

But Dick died last October at age 89, and Debra Shanahan chaired this Eagle Open solo (with the help of a nine-member volunteer committee). When she arrived at Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club Saturday morning, she was surprised by the large banners floating over the putting green, with photos of Dick resplendent in black tie, being used as markers for the event’s putting challenge.

“I was doing okay, and then I walked up and saw Dick there,” said Debra, who received a series of hugs from well wishers. “They claimed they never looked at the banners. It was a beautiful, beautiful surprise. Dick’s here after all.”

Event chair Debra Shanahan listens as golfers get their instructions. The 44th annual Eagle Open golf event was played at Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club on a beautiful Saturday morning.

There was another surprise for the field of 90 golfers who teed it up in the four-player scramble – rotating tees. Make a birdie, move back a set of tees starting with the next hole, the players were told. The process would repeat until, if the foursome continued to birdie, they would be playing from the “tips,” the championship tees generally reserved for the pros. At the same time, foursomes who notched a bogey, one over par, could move up one tee box closer to the green. All of which should give duffers a better chance to compete with their smooth-swinging, power-driving rivals.

When the divots were replaced and the scores were calculated, the winning foursome was Dave Stonier, Bob Dugan, Robb Pentico, and Dave Weigandt. Second place went to Sean Shea, Marc Canady, Neils Stone, and Pookie Simpson. In third place were the “fighting Sullivans,” Kevin, Dan, and Vin, along with Dennis Meehan.

The winning over-65 foursome was John Wright, Chuck Bruckman, Kathie and Bill Richel. The top ladies’ foursome was actually a threesome, Roe Tamagni, Brandy Simpson, and Helen Donaghy. Tamagni also won for longest drive, along with George LaBarr. Mike Weigandt won for closest to the pin, and Patrick Layton won the putting challenge. No one sank a hole in one on number 17, which came with a $10,000 prize.

It was a beautiful morning to be on the links, with temperatures comfortable and occasional clouds providing welcome shade. Ibis, anhinga and herons waded in the water hazards, and a swallow-tailed Everglades kite flew overhead, riding on the thermals.

Along with the Marco Eagle and the Naples Daily News, sponsors included Condee Cooling, and the dental office of Dr. Rick Siegel. At the post-golf luncheon, Dick Shanahan had traditionally offered some remarks, and Eagle manager T.J. Boone did the honors in his stead.

The event, said Debra Shanahan, was expected to raise approximately $10,000 for island charities.