Ex-Husky golfer James Lepp, sponsor of the Kikkor Husky Invitational that plays out at Gold Mountain, kicked around Greenbrier, W. Va., as a contestant on the Golf Channel’s Big Break Greenbrier reality-based show last June.
It was a two-week competition and Lepp made it to the finals, which will be broadcast Tuesday night (at 6 p.m. and again at 9 p.m. on the Golf Channel).
During a farewell event for Gold Mountain’s outgoing director of golf Scott Alexander last Friday, I asked Husky coach Matt Thurmond if he knew about the outcome. Thurmond said he didn’t, but noted that Lepp, who won an NCAA title while at Washington, had invited him to watch the final episode with his family and friends in British Columbia on Tuesday. Would Lepp have invited Thurmond if he had lost?
Here’s the lowdown on Lepp and a Q&A he did with affable Brian Tom, the assistant director of athletic communication for the Huskies.
If Lepp wins, he wins $50,000 and an exemption into the PGA Tour’s 2013 Greenbrier Classic. Lepp and Kikkor Golf, a clothing apparel company, are already planning to stage a Big Break-style contest in Canada.
Kelly update: The Greenbrier holds special meaning for another ex-Husky. Troy Kelly, the CK grad and former NCAA runner-up as a freshman at Washington, lost in a playoff at the Greenbrier and the second-place finish enabled him to keep his tour card. Kelly got a lot of TV time that weekend, and will be looking for more of it in 2013.
Kelly and his wife, Jen, are expecting a new a baby boy in early January before Troy heads to Hawaii to play in the Sony Open in Honolulu. They’ve already got a name picked out: Mason Michael Kelly. Grandpa Bob probably has some new clubs picked out for Mason.
Alexander feted: As I mentioned, a farewell dinner for Scott Alexander was held at Gold Mountain on Friday, the 14th. Former Bremerton mayor Cary Bozeman, UW golf coach Matt Thurmond, new Washington State Golf Association president Frank Horton, the Bremertonian who helped Alexander put on the USGA and NCAA tournaments that helped put Gold Mountain on the national map, spoke. So did Don Krieger, the former Oregon amateur champ who served as a father figure of sorts when Alexander was a senior in high school and decided to stay in Oregon instead of following his parents to Bremerton. Buddy Cleo Cragg put together a slide show that covered Alexander’s 28 years at Gold Mountain.
(Trivia: Who did Don Krieger lose to in the 1961 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach?)
Letters from Silverdale’s Erynne Lee, now at UCLA, and from the USGA director of communications for championship events, Pete Kowalski, were were read. Erynne’s younger sister, Katie Lee, sat with teaching pro Tedd Naff, a long-time teaching pro who has worked out of Gold Mountain for years.
Alexander was presented with a plaque that will be mounted at the clubhouse, and a scholarship for a golfer at Bremerton High will be established in his name.
Daryl Matheny, who will move up from head pro to director of golf, said Columbia Hospitality, which will operate the 36-hole facility for the city, is going to hire Mark Knowles as head pro. Knowles, a former North Mason and Washington State golfer, has worked at Gold Mountain in the past and was also the pro at Trophy Lake Golf & Casting.
While Alexander’s leadership, vision and infectious energy will be missed, the Matheny-Knowles-Ed Faulk (longtime superintendent) trio should carry on the tradition of quality that Gold Mountain’s provided over the years.
Speaking of Ed Faulk. I didn’t recognize him. Must have been the sports jacket and slacks.
Trivia Answer: Jack Nicklaus beat Krieger 4 and 3 in the second round. (Krieger defeated Bill Stewart, Payne Stewart’s father, in the opening round 2 and 1.)