Golfers go for Key Royale
Max Conoly tees off. He played with his dad, Charlie, and Paul Newhall
and his son, Jensen. SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT
HOLMES BEACH – Saturday began with cloudy skies, then a short rainstorm. Prospects for a day on the links looked dim until the rain stopped.
That’s when 68 people packed their clubs and headed for Key Royale Golf Club to play in the first ever All Island Golf Tournament.
Key Royale is a private club, but the board members agreed to stage this event to help promote Bridging the Gap and attract people onto the Island during the closure of the Anna Maria Island bridge and to raise money for the Anna Maria Island Community Center.
Club members were there to help the 17 teams of foursomes get acquainted with the nine-hole course set next to the bay with brand new greens.
"The rain actually made the course and the greens run faster," tournament organizer Tom Tollette said.
The event gave prospective members a chance to play the course before deciding whether to join. The club is taking a limited number of new members at this time, according to Tollette.
Bob Elliott, 93, fired the starter’s pistol to begin the tournament.
"Golf is truly a sport you can play at any age," the retired Air Force officer from Connecticut said. "I come out here and put the coffee on in the mornings and get going."
Elliott said the turnout for the tournament was a good one.
Merritt Fineout pulled up in a cart to wait for the third hole along with Billy Cox, a player for the Washington Redskins in the 1950s. He teed off and drove the ball within an easy putt of the hole.
One team was comprised of two men and their sons, something the club’s board members hoped the tournament would foster. Paul Newhall and his son, Jensen, played along with Charlie Conoley and his son, Max.
"It’s a beautiful course and challenging," Paul Newhall said. "We’ve driven by here several times and I’m glad we got to play."
Newhall said his son began playing six months ago after he told him that golf is a good sport to learn because you can play it the rest of your life.
"The tournament was wonderful," Tollette said later. "I think the club is thrilled. If we do this next year, it will be something that people will look forward to."