By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – The day began at 7:30 a.m. as Mark Wehrman teed off with his driver, slicing through the slight breeze of the cool morning air on the first hole of the Big Sky Golf Course and concluded at 8:30 p.m. with Brad Rierson’s putt on the 100th hole, completing the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Big Sky Country golf marathon.
On July 13, 10 golfers combined their efforts over the course of the 13-hour day, hitting the links to participate in the BBBS of Big Sky Country golf marathon fundraiser.
“We had some spectators cheering us on and watching us as we were getting ready to go,” said Wehrman, the Head Golf Professional at the Big Sky Golf Course and one of the participants in the golf marathon, adding that the atmosphere of the marathon even rivaled that of a traditional golf tournament.
The group accomplished their goal of completing 100 holes of golf for the day—aided by a slight modification in play after 54 holes when two groups split up, rather than the original lone group of rotating players, to double their efforts and complete holes at a quicker pace due to the impending darkness.
“It was one of the most enjoyable days of golf that I have ever had,” said John Hannahs, one of the 10 participants in the golf marathon. “Uniting for a noble cause that does so much for our community and playing a game that I love with my dear friends is my idea of a great day.”
The golf marathon took the place of the traditional BBBS of Big Sky Country celebrity golf tournament, which would have been entering its 19th year but was canceled this year as a precautionary measure due to COVID-19.
“It feels good just to be able to say this is for a really good cause and this is really helping the kids,” said Amy Hunter, the Big Sky Program Coordinator for BBBS of Big Sky Country.
The golfers: Dylan Hall, Hannahs, Al Malinowski, Andy Nystuen, Betsy Nystuen, Carl Nystuen, Jeanine Palma, Reierson, Jerry Scott, and Wehrman all completed at least one full round of golf on behalf of BBBS of Big Sky Country’s fundraiser. Carl Nystuen put forth a valiant effort, leading the charge with 77 holes completed for the day.
“[I’m] more just tired; not sore or anything like that,” Wehrman said. “My body held up good and from you know the other guys I talked to, I don’t think anyone’s really necessarily sore, they’re just more at an exhaustion level.”
While not the traditional tournament that participants have come to anticipate each year according to Hunter, the marathon still provided an outlet for the golfers partaking in an activity that they enjoy for a good cause.
“It was refreshing to be able to take our minds off the current state of the world and just focus on playing golf and enjoying each other’s company,” Hannahs said.
BBBS of Big Sky Country’s fundraising goal of $65,000 wasn’t quite met, with donations made on a per hole pledge basis, but the event raised over $25,000. Hunter said that the fundraising webpage will be taken down on the evening of July 14, but individuals still interested in making a donation could do so on the BBBS of Big Sky Country website. She also said all funds raised will benefit BBBS of Big Sky Country programs.
“Being able to help with fundraising or do something that makes those programs possible you know is huge,” Hunter said. “Because without fundraising, without these events, we wouldn’t be able to have the programs.”
She also described the toughest challenge surrounding the golf marathon was providing engagement for the community being that it was a downsized event in comparison to the usual golf tournament held by BBBS of Big Sky Country.
“No one was doing it because they had to,” Wehrman said of the golfers enthusiasm to participate in the event. “Everyone was doing it [because they wanted to] and having fun doing it.”
Wehrman said the two groups joined forces once again to complete the final five holes together, capping their tremendous effort on the day, all in the name of a good cause.
“These kids wouldn’t be able to build those relationships and just strengthen their confidence and to better understand how to interact with people of different ages and … just look beyond themselves and see the impact they can have on other people’s lives,” Hunter said.