Almost 100 golfers found out what it was like to putt and chip in the shifting sands of Seven Mile Bay during the Caseys’ 30th annual Sand Bar Golf Tournament Saturday.
Ron Casey, 62, has been hosting the event since he started it in 1988, after he suffered an injury and needed to find a way to do some golfing at a different pace.
“I broke my leg in ’88 and couldn’t go golfing. We set up some holes, [my brother] and I, and we started playing from there.”
There weren’t a lot of people living in Seven Mile Bay at the time, said Casey. About 15 players made it out to the first tournament. On its 25th anniversary, 104 people played.
“I never thought we’d go 30 years. We were going to quit after 25 years, but the kids said ‘let’s keep it going.’”
He prepares the course two weeks prior to the tournament in order to figure out where the holes will be. The tournament is held on or around the lowest tide of the year, which allows for about three hours on the sandbars before the tide comes in.
Players are only allowed to carry one club, and one putter.
The course is only eight holes. The ninth hole is the house where all the players gather afterwards. Food and games are provided, and many awards are given out to the players, including a handmade winner’s trophy in the shape of P.EI.,which Casey carves from Island oak.
Registration is by donation to a local charity. Players raised $700 this year, the highest yet, which will be donated to the IWK children’s health centre.
“Over the years we’ve raised $10,000 for charity,” said Casey.
Casey has racked up quite a few good stories out on the sandbars over the years.
“The thing that stands out the most is the year it was thunder and lightning and we went out there and everyone said we were crazy. There was only six or seven of us that went that year.”
Ellen Trainor, who shot 38 on the eight holes, says the tournament is about reconnecting with friends and being able to play a sport in a stress-free environment.
“It’s nice to do it and not take it very seriously. It’s nice to celebrate our Island and the iron-rich sand we have.“
Trainor, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, but is originally from the Island, says the unique conditions of playing on a beach, means it can really be anyone’s game.
“It’s very challenging. Even if you’re a good golfer, it brings a new level of challenge to the game.”
The overall winner was Chad Ceretti. He shot a 29 on the par 24 course, which earned him the title for the second year in a row. The lowest winning score ever recorded was 27.