Parks was one of more than 100 members of the Coast Guard — both active and retired — who participated in Tuesday’s golf outing. According to event organizer Bill Herbst, Parks is one of the highest-ranking Coast Guard officials to have played in the outing in some time.
“It’s great to see the men and women of the Coast Guard enjoying themselves on such a beautiful course,” said Parks, the 9th District Commander, headquartered in Cleveland. “It’s interesting talking about the Coast Guard festival, the tradition used to be surf men getting together for competitions in lifesaving drills. Now we’re out here golfing — and judging by our scores, maybe we should go back to the lifesaving competition.”
Actually, Parks and his foursome shot a respectable round of 66, six shots under par. That wasn’t enough to take home first-place honors at the event. That distinction went to the foursome of Joe Marion, Mike Garcia, Steve Root and Sam Meitz, who shot a 12-under-par 60.
The same group won the Coasties Golf Tournament a few years ago, but then three of the four retired from the Coast Guard and had to find “real jobs,” according to Garcia, which kept them from attending the festival the past two years.
“We’ve won it probably three times, but we didn’t play the last two years,” Garcia said. “We retired from the Coast Guard, so we had to go to work. It’s fun to come back. We always enjoy coming out here. It’s always a good time.”
“Making putts was the biggest thing,” Garcia added. “The pins were tough today.”
Scott Smith commander of The Mackinaw, wasn’t able to attend the Coast Guard Festival last year because the ship was dry docked. He was happy to be back in Grand Haven this year.
“It’s a little hot, a little muggy, but the course is beautiful,” Smith said. “Every year we can be back, we do it. Last year we were dry docked, so we couldn’t make it. As an icebreaker and buoy tender, our busy season is the fall, winter and spring, so the summer is the off-season for us.”
Herbst said providing Coast Guard personnel with a fun, relaxing outing is what the golf tournament is all about.
“The biggest thing about it is the camaraderie,” Herbst said. “Most of these guys know everybody because the Coast Guard is such a small service, but they don’t see each other often. A lot of them only get to play golf once or twice a year, but because they get to see people they served with the last 10-15 years, they all love that aspect of it.
“The mission of the festival is to honor the Coast Guard, and it’s really neat to see them out here having a good time. It’s really rewarding, and that’s why we do it.”