But the lowest score of the day wasn’t the top priority for others, including a large contingency of golfers from north of the border.
“The Mackinaw’s not here this year, and they usually have 4-5 teams, so we thought we might be down from last year,” said event chairman Bill Herbst. “So we invited members of the Canadian Coast Guard, and they brought five teams. The only problem is, we didn’t invite them in time, so they didn’t bring their clubs. They’re renting clubs, and a lot of them are actually sharing clubs. They’re having a great time.”
That group of Canadian golfers included the foursome of Kirk Dunne, Joey Marshall, Kelly Johnston and Karyna Lortie. Both Marshall and Lortie were playing golf for the first time ever. In addition, several of them were left-handed, so they were forced to share the one set of left-handed rental clubs available at GHCG with another golfer in a different foursome.
They teed off, and putted, with a 3-wood, and probably hit more trees than fairways, but still managed to have a great time on a sun-soaked morning.
“This is a social event, a meet-and-greet with the Coast Guard, and it’s excellent,” said Dunne, a native of Newfounland and Labrador, the eastern tip of Canada.
“It’s very, very thoughtful of them to invite us. Everyone likes the game of golf.”
“It’s a good chance to get off the ship and stretch our legs,” added Marshall, also from Newfounland and Labrador.
All four members of their foursome were stunned at the reception the Griffon received when it came into port as part of Monday’s Parade of Ships.
“This town is great,” Dunne said. “It’s the biggest welcome I’ve ever seen on any vessel coming into a port.”
“It felt like we were rock stars,” Marshall added. “We had heard about it, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that big. There were people cheering. It was crazy. Overwhelming.”
Lortie, a native of Trois-Rivieres in Quebec, expressed her excitement through a heavy French-Canadian accent.
“I’m impressed with how the people are. They’re so grateful,” she said. “Everybody says ‘Thank you for your service.’ When we arrived, I was not expecting that many people.”
Despite having never golfed before, Lortie jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the “Coasties” golf outing.
“I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got to try it,’” she said. “It sounds liked a good opportunity to have fun.”
“I’ve played just a few times before, and this is a beautiful course,” added Johnston, a native of Niagra Falls, Ontario. “What more could you ask for?”
For a pair of foursomes, one more birdie would have been nice.
The team of Sam Meints, Mike Garcia, Joe Marion and Kole Chavalia have won the “Coasties” golf outing five of the last eight years. This time around, they shot a 59, thanks to several long putts, but settled for a par on No. 18, which cost them.
That’s because Brandon Underwood, Chris Perrin, David Perrin and Adam Kane, of of Coast Guard Station St. Joseph, also shot a 59. Their birdie on No. 18 turned out to be the difference in a tiebreaker that looked at how each team scored on the toughest holes on the course.
“We just didn’t have enough this year,” Garcia said with a smile.
Herbst was just happy to see smiles on the faces of those involved.
“Our goal is just for them to have a good time,” he said.