By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – On June 27 the Big Sky Ski Education Foundation held their first fundraiser since February due to COVID-19 cancelations, postponements and precautions. 26 teams competed in the first BSSEF Swing into Summer Charity Golf Tournament which brought in between $6,000 and $7,000 in proceeds benefiting BSSEF operations.
“The support for it was overwhelming,” BSSEF Executive Project Director Callie Pecunies said. “We really weren’t sure when we went into this whether people were going to be willing to be sponsors and … pay the entry fee and buy raffle tickets.”
Kicking off with a shot gun start at 10 a.m. the sunny and partly cloudy conditions made for ideal golf conditions for the 26 teams, which were comprised of four competitors each.
“It was awesome. It was a beautiful day in Big Sky,” competitor Daniel Bierschwale said of the tournament. “… The perfect activity for socially distancing and being able to soak up some sun on the golf course.”
Pecunies was initially fearful that BSSEF wouldn’t fill the team limit that was set for the tournament, but teams registered and filled the field prior to even the registration deadline on June 22.
“I was hoping we could get at least 20 teams,” she said. “… We’ve been you know just really pleased with the support and the number of sponsors.”
The tournament was capped with a team limit because of the availability of golf carts rather than for COVID-19 precautions. Pecunies said it was due to the amount of golf carts that the Big Sky Golf Course could allow BSSEF to utilize, while still being able to offer carts to the public looking to casually play.
“I think it speaks to the excitement of just doing something after so many months of not doing things,” Pecunies said, referring to how quickly registration filled.
Adjustments were made to the tournament to ensure the safety of all participants. Teams were adequately spaced throughout the course, there were multiple scoreboards rather than having one gathering place for teams to check final scores, as well as various stands to purchase beverages located around the course to further avoid large gatherings of people.
“I felt super safe and commend the BSSEF for following all of the recommended CDC guidelines,” Bierschwale said. “I think they set a positive example [for] the rest of the community [and] being able to do this at some point again this summer.”
Funds raised from the golf tournament, sponsored by Big Sky Build, First American Title Company and Pinky G’s Pizzeria, will be crucial to BSSEF, after they had to cancel large-scale competitions due to COVID-19. The cancelations resulted in a loss of about $30,000 in revenue, according to Pecunies. The Tri-Divisional Alpine Championships and the Freeride World Qualifier were both canceled due to the pandemic.
BSSEF will still have the opportunity to host these competitions next year, after the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association decided to honor the same hosts who had to cancel the competitions this year, rather than allowing bidding for the competitions to determine the host.
BSSEF also extended their annual winter raffle, which typically concludes in April, but instead the organization is continuing to sell tickets until the fall, while also selling fireworks at their fireworks trailer located next to the Conoco.
The “Bozone Hawks,” comprised of Henry Farley, Tom Hoffman, Thomas Sexton and Taylor Limanek, came away with the top gross score of the tournament at 57 strokes, while “Biggerstaff Construction” made up of Jerad Biggerstaff, Taylor Graham, Ryan Blechta and Brian Scott, was the top net scoring team at 58 strokes.