Finn golfers

From left to right, participants included Colleen Haley, Mike Swanson, Randy Sparks, Ken Elliott and Topi Hakkarainen. You might notice they were not observing social distancing for the photo, but it was done quickly and everyone held their breath.

LONG BEACH — Every even-numbered year, there is a Finn Golf Tournament held just prior to the Naselle Finnish-American Folk Festival (FinnFest). Due to the “damnpanic,” FinnFest 2020 was canceled. However, golf as played by Finns and Finnwannabe’s guarantees social distancing since everyone seems to hit in a different direction, and it was decided the tournament could be safely held.

On Thursday, July 23, 29 intrepid hackers formed six foursomes and one five-some at the Peninsula Golf Course in Long Beach. Participants who had not played recently at the course were pleasantly surprised with the course improvements made by the new owners Doug and Angie Brown, who purchased the course three years ago. The course is better manicured and watered. The rough is trimmed to a length that, while appropriately penal, doesn’t create slower play from searching for a player’s ball. The cart paths have been greatly improved and the greens are in much better condition. Even the ever-present mosquitoes were better behaved.

Following a shotgun start, the sound of golf balls being hit by woods began to ring throughout the course. Unfortunately, most of the sounds were from woods that had limbs and needles. But, since it was a scramble, usually one of the women players managed to hit a ball in the fairway and the pace of play was enjoyable. Frequently, words sounding like: Minne palloni meni? (where did my ball go?) Näitkö palloni? (did you see my ball?) and, Ooh, Miksi pelaan tätä peliä? (Ooh, why do I play this game?), could be heard. In the end, sisu prevailed and all of the teams completed their 18-holes of golf.

Organizer Mike Swanson gave out raffle prizes along with prizes for kp’s (closest to the hole) and longest drives. Lorna Batt won the women’s long drive. Randy Sparks won the longest drive for men. Chase Chapman won the kp on hole number six and Swanson won the kp on hole number four.

When the score cards were tabulated, two teams were tied at five under par. Team Six consisted of Colleen Haley, Ken Elliott, Randy Sparks, Topi Hakkarainen and Swanson, while Team Four consisted of Lorna and Dave Batt, Cliff Kilponen and Nick Nikkila. A putt-off was conducted to determine the winning team. After all but one player had putted, it was looking like a measurement would be needed to determine the winning team. Elliott then stepped up and using a putter given to him by opponent Nikkila just a few days earlier, ended up within two feet of the cup after a putt of some 45 feet, thereby winning the match and tournament for his team.

Doug Brown then surprised everyone by graciously presenting each member of the winning team with tickets for a free 18-hole round of golf and each member of the second-place team with a free nine-hole round of golf.

A good time was had by all and the event ended up providing $600 to the FinnFest account, which will be used to support FinnFest 2022.

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