by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Cathy Smith and Tracey Grill, a pair of office friends who were non-athletes before they started playing golf together four years ago, emerged as champions of Elk River Golf Club’s Companions Classic on Sunday.
Smith, of Maple Grove, and Grill, of Nowhen, shot a net 62 in the best-ball format on Saturday and 134 net on Sunday to pick up the title by one stroke, with Mona Deiley and Krista Murray second, among 13 entrants in the women’s division.
“I never played high school sports, but my daughters played volleyball at Elk River,” said Grill, of Nowthen, meaning Kirsti and Jessica, who were all-conference hitters and played college ball. “Golf is something I picked up after the kids graduated and I have more free time.”
Grill is office manager for a Minneapolis law firm. Smith is an attorney there, and recently made partner.
Smith, who grew up in Korea, said she did a little tennis and swimming as a child, but that was about it for sports until she took some golf lessons with Grill four years ago. Soon she and her husband were ERGC members along with Grill and her husband.
They’ve played the Companions meet three times. This marked the first time they’ve placed in the top five.
Asked if that felt pretty good, Smith grinned, “You betcha it does!” showing that a little of Minnesota has rubbed off on the native Korean.
On Saturday in the best ball format, retiree Peg Van Donsel and 25-year-old Melissa Jackson opened a big lead with 56, six strokes ahead of Smith and Grill. They were paired up at the last minute when Jackson dropped out of a running event at the state fairgrounds she’d been signed up for. But the second day didn’t go as well and they wound up tied for fourth.
Smith shot 100 on Sunday – “My second-best round ever” — and Grill shot 102, for a 134 net with handicaps of 37 and 31 respectively.
Their highlight came on 15 when Grill drove into the water and took a drop, then hit a pitching wedge shot within a couple inches of the cup and tapped in for a four.
“The ball just popped it right up and anded right by the pin,” marveled Smith. “She was the only one of (the foursome) to get a four and she’s the one who landed in the water.”
Murray, who’s from Elk River and works at ERGC, and Deiley, of Dayton, are also both late starters in golf, joining because their husbands have always played.
It’s Murray’s third year of golf and just her second tournament, and Deiley’s second year of golf and her first tournament. They met during league golf.
“If you know anything about golf, our handicaps are nothing to be proud of,” chuckled Deiley, who has a 48 while Murray has a 40.
The idea in a net tournament is to beat your average and the runners-up certainly did that. Murray had birdies on three holes while shooting 107 Sunday. Deiley shot 115.
“When you can get a birdie with a handicap like I have,” said Murray, “that’s phenomenal. It means I took a two on each of those holes.”
Michelle Olson and Kerry Lamp were the best gross shooting team in the field and placed third with 200 net. The best gross rounds on Sunday were Olson with 81, Lamp and Gloria Jenson with 84, and Patty Christensen with 85.
Top five teams among 13
Cathy Smith, Tracey Grill ………………………. 62 – 134 – 196
Mona Deiley, Kristy Murray …………………. 63 – 134 – 197
Kerry Lamp, Michele Olson …………………… 68 – 132 – 200
Candace Johnson and Diane Sanford …. 66 – 137 – 203
Peg Van Donsel, Melissa Jackson ……….. 56 – 147 – 203