On the green, raising some green: Over $10,000 for island causes with 45th Annual Eagle Open

Lance Shearer

Typically, at the beginning of June, golf course superintendents are drawing down their lakes for irrigation, and eagerly awaiting the beginning of the rainy season. But for the Eagle Open, played Saturday the Rookery at Marco Golf Club in Fiddler’s Creek, the course was lush and green, after the wettest May on record.

Kevin Brown, right, and Bill Slepcevich watch as teammate John Botsko drives off the tee. Marco Island's Rotary Clubs sponsored the 45th Annual Eagle Open on Saturday morning, held at the Rookery of Marco Golf Club in Fiddler's Creek.

“Our grounds crew has done a great job,” said golf pro Alex Genschoreck, as he welcomed the field of 65 golfers, but golf carts were restricted to cart paths only, and those went through some puddles. The rain held off Saturday, giving players a beautiful morning on the links.

This was the 45th Annual Eagle Open, the longest-running golf event on Marco Island, administered by the island’s two Rotary Clubs. Debra Shanahan chaired the event, her second year of running it without longtime partner Dick Shanahan, whose face fluttered on pennants above the putting challenge. Tom Wagor took Dick’s place as co-chair, assisted by volunteers including George Abounader, Wanda Day, Cindy Love and Lisa Honig.

The golfers played a four-person scramble, with each player in a foursome using the best drive as their starting point for the next shot, and repeating until the ball is in the hole. With golfers beginning their round on nearly every hole, it is referred to as a “shotgun start,” from the old practice of firing a blast from a gun to indicate to players to begin, but no weapons were discharged on Saturday, and players just rode out to their designated tee and started swinging.

The scramble format leads to some scores that would be amazing if notched by a single golfer.

Kevin Brown, right, and Bill Slepcevich lead their foursome off the green. Marco Island's Rotary Clubs sponsored the 45th annual Eagle Open on Saturday morning, held at the Rookery of Marco Golf Club in Fiddler's Creek.

“We’re not going to win this with pars,” muttered one player, coming off the green. “In terms of winning anything, let’s just say I’m looking forward to the raffle.”

The foursome of Derek Tenney, Todd Kloeb, Matt Jurgatis, and Adam Jurgatis made those eagles and birdies, winning the event with a 12 under par to take home a $400 prize. They were closely followed by Mike Christopher, Jim Zajas, Robert Caton, and Glenn Williams with 11 under. Curt and Jacquie Koon, Vip Grover, and Patrick Layton placed third with nine under par.

“We had some fun with awarding the last place foursome, giving everyone a chance to win,” said Debra Shanahan. The booby prize, which came with a round of golf for four at Royal Palm Country Club, went to Steve Cohen, Natalia Armstrong, Terry Byrne, and Jack Symon.

The Eagle Open also featured a putting challenge, in which each participant paid $5 for the chance to sink a 30-foot putt. Three players advanced to a playoff round, with the winner earning the chance to sink a 60-foot putt and win $2,500. The three qualifiers were Rick Kendall, Curt Koon, and Jason Schooley. Koon won the playoff, and came within two inches of dropping the 60-foot putt.

The event, said Shanahan, was expected to raise over $10,000 for island causes, including Marco Island Charter Middle School.