THE CHASE AT LA CUMBRE

In a four-day golf tournament that matched players from all over the U.S. and from Montecito, Ryan Albert of Woodranch Country Club and I won the 48th Harold S. Chase Member Guest. In the September 14 to 17 contest, held at La Cumbre Country Club, we posted an overall gross of 195 in three rounds of play. La Cumbre member Eric Wipf and his partner Andy Gotelli of Rancho San Marcos won with a score of 185.5 in the overall net category, which incorporates players’ handicaps.

Guests came from as far as Edmonton Country Club in Canada and Haig Point in South Carolina and from as near as Birnam Wood and Montecito Country Clubs. In all, 72 teams played, making the Chase the largest Member-Guest in the Santa Barbara area.

The tournament is named in honor of Harold S. Chase, who originally owned most of the land in Hope Ranch and was a founding member of La Cumbre. Years later, his estate sold the land for the golf course for a very reasonable price, which allowed La Cumbre to become an equity club.

The course was in excellent shape for the event; the green speed reached 13 by the final round, one of the main goals set by tourney organizers. But the conditions weren’t without eleventh hour measures to repair the grounds.

About two months before the tournament, a big rig ran over the fifth green, damaging a portion of the carpet-like surface. Course superintendent Wayne Mills says the driver of the wayward vehicle made a wrong turn into Hope Ranch rather than into the car lots on the other side of the freeway. Luckily, the truck driver noticed the greenside bunker and didn’t completely run over the putting surface.

The tournament kicked off on September 14 with an informal practice round followed by a flighted Horse Race, where 12 teams tee off in an alternate shot format with several high scores removed on each hole. Friday’s first round featured an aggregate point par format with a conversion to stroke play. The second round featured two formats with Modified Chapman used on the front nine and the Scramble format used on the back nine. The final round on Sunday was a Better-Ball of Partners format.

The Chase has its own committee which this year included Kent Vining as chairman, Jerry Pimm, Charles Cox and Jim Chapman, the club’s golf committee chairman. Players were treated to breakfast and lunch daily, after-round cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, as well as a lavish Saturday night dinner dance for contestants and wives. The overall winners, both gross and net, were given handmade bowls made by Montecito resident Alan Kirkby. The bowls were made from diseased trees removed from La Cumbre course.

2006 H.S. Chase Winners

Overall Gross – 195 – Ray Navis, Ryan Albert (Wood Ranch)

Overall net – 185.5 – Eric Wipf, Andy Gotelli (Rancho San Marcos)

-A- Flight

1st Gross – 198.5 – Bob Heintz, Forrest Blake (River Ridge)

1st Net – 186 – Doug Katsev, Steve Roberts (Haig Point)

-B- Flight

1st Gross – 212 – Harry Powell, Andy Powell (Birnam Wood)

1st Net – 191 – Milt Meler, Jim Witkowski (Oakmont Country Club)

-C- Flight

1st Gross – 219.5 – Bill Cough, Jeff Gough (Santa Maria Country Club)

1st Net – 191 – Ash Ashamalla, John Gough (Sandpiper)