’Cracker draws upbeat reviews from players
Over the years, one of my favorite summer events has been the Firecracker Golf Classic at the Lawton Country Club, but this year I was unable to make the event but from everything I've been hearing, it was one of the best.
Even a big storm on Friday night couldn't ruin the event for the 100 golfers who took part. The storm did force officials to cancel the first round of the lower flights but after some great work by the grounds crew, the championship golfers were able to hit the course for their first round and the action was great.
For three days the best amateur golfers around battled for top honors and in the end it was former Midwestern State University golfer Jared Baker who earned the title with a 205 total.
While the local golfers were unable to defend their title, it was good to see former Cameron golfers Cullen Stahl and Dylan McClure there in the top five. Stahl had a shot at the title but a 74 in the final round cost him dearly. McClure was Mr. Consistent shooting 71-70-71 for a 212 total to share fourth with two other well-known players, Joby Dutcher and three-time former champion Dustin Wigington.
Another three-time champion, Logan McCracken was another shot back at 213 and Scott Watson played solid golf as well shooting a 214 including a 70 in the final round.
The championship field included many veterans but also a host of recent high school players who tried their luck.
I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to the Hatch clan for supporting this great tournament as five members of the family competed. Kyle Hatch, a captain in the United States Army, came home again to challenge the championship golfers and he represented himself well with a 217 for a top 10 finish.
Dad Larry Hatch played in A Flight and while he didn't win the title, he made some great shots and had a ton of fun. He's consistently shown that he's every bit as good a golfer as he is a band instructor. His Highlander Regiment band is consistently among the highest ranked bands in the state and he takes as much pride in his job as he does his golf.
The family was also represented by Austin Hatch, Scott Hatch, and Braden Hatch as they had a player in each of the five flights.
I also learned a great deal about the Firecracker during a visit yesterday with Brian Valdez. Valdez is not only one of Lawton's finest police officers, he's also a solid golfer and he made a solid showing in the 'Cracker, shooting 77-78 for a 155 to take second in B Flight.
Valdez said the course was in "amazing shape" and everything was run on a professional basis.
"I played in the Firecracker back in 2007 and that's when the greens were so bad they had to paint them," Valdez said. "But now they (greens) are just amazing, they really putted great. The course was in great condition and while it was tough, it was still a great test for everyone."
I also noticed in the results that a couple of my good friends have obviously been working on their games. The old coach Brad Cooksey shot a 163 to take third in C Flight and coach Christian Lawyer was second in D Flight.
And two more long-time friends former Constitution sports writer Steve Klos and Steve Aust had their usual battle for pride in D Flight but Aust took bragging rights with a 93-92185 while Klos posted a pair of 93s for a 186 total.
Hopefully the crew at the Lawton Country Club has learned the ropes in dealing with these Bermuda greens and they are over the hump. I did notice this winter that the tarps covering the greens were in place well into the spring at times to avoid freezing temperatures and now the benefits are starting to finally pay off.
These solid reviews from players should help Pro Johnny Wilson and his tournament committee boost their numbers next year to 125 or more and keep climbing back to the level of greatness this tournament had for many years.