Kiawah Friendship Cup 2008

2018 friendship cup logoThe Friendship Cup… Even the name invokes the camaraderie this ancient game brings to millions of people around the world – the chance to tee it up with long-time buddies in fierce but friendly competition, sharing laughs, a few drinks, maybe a cigar or two & bonding.

In that spirit, Kiawah Island Golf Resort introduced the“fifth major”last year. The Friendship Cup. Two-man teams from as far away as California, Arizona, Nevada, the Northeast and the Midwest vied for the coveted cup with the previous years winners hosting the past champions reception and dinner. This years dinner was held Thursday night and was hosted by the 2007 champions — Geoff Russell and Tom Nolan who won the event with a score of 135. It took place in the luxurious Presidential Suite of the Mobil Five Star Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The winning team’s dinner selection was filets, tuna and, in honor of their Lowcountry locale, shrimp and grits. In addition to Russell and Nolan, low gross winner, Steve Agazzi (148 and low net winner, Paul Burke (151) attended as well as a number of members of Golf Digest’s executive staff Nolan and Russell brought as the champion team’s guests. In their day jobs, Russell is Editor in Chief and Nolan is Publisher of Golf World magazine, a sister publication of Golf Digest magazine, so they are very familiar with amateur events. They believe the Friendship Cup is one of a kind. “It’s one of my favorite events of the year, and I cannot wait to go back again,” said Nolan.

While Thursday night was to honor the past champions, Friday night was to welcome the 2008 participants with a reception sponsored by Tommy Bahama Rum and Ketel One Vodka. Before the festivities started, however, there was the unfinished business for the 2007 championship – the awarding of the Champion’s Blazers. To the sound of traditional bagpipes, the official ceremony honored the team champions as well as low gross and low net winners.

After the reception, participants and their spouses/guests retired to the hospitality suite sponsored by Woodford Reserve with their fine premium bourbon. This was also the beginning of the event-long raffle for rounds of golf, merchandise and high-end wines and spirits. There was also a putting contest featuring trips to Orlando and downtown Charleston as prized for first and second place. Coastal Cigars provided hand-rolled premium cigars for participants to enjoy. A strolling magician, music by guitarist Nikolai Svishev and fine desserts were enjoyed by all.

The first day of the tournament began with Joe King from Kettle One serving bloody marys on the Ocean Course clubhouse terrace. Teeing off in straight tee times throughout the morning, competitors took on Pete Dye’s seaside masterpiece with panache posting some impressive scores.

As always, The Ocean Course experience was outstanding with caddies providing the local knowledge and mental support. Anheuser Busch provided some of their finest products for contestants throughout the day. The defending champions of Nolan and Russell struggled the first day while the team of Branch and Woodring sizzled with a net 66. While the contestants went out to test their skills, many of the spouses enjoyed boutique showcases but most of them took advantage of the Sanctuary’s Mobil Five Star spa….

Those with closest to the pin on each of the par 3s received framed prints of that hole signed by Pete Dye. Unfortunately, no one got a hole in one on the famed 17th hole that would have won a new Mercedes, courtesy of Baker Motor Company, Inc. Other awards that first competitive day included a Sun Mountain Carry Bag courtesy of Links Magazine for the shortest drive, a Titleist Driver each day courtesy of the Acushnet Company for the longest drive and a Callaway Range Finder courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods for the longest putt.

After The Ocean Course proved why Golf Digest named it America’s Toughest Course, everyone retired to their Sanctuary rooms to prepare for the special event dinner in the Ocean Room. Special menu dining choices included beef, risotto or the bass complemented with wine specifically picked to accent the dish.

Following dinner, contestants once again retired to the hospitality room, this time sponsored by Southern Wine and Sprits. The second day of competition began with the 9:00 a.m. shotgun start at the Nicklaus-designed Turtle Point Golf Club on Sunday. Closest to the pin on Sunday on all four of the Par 3s won a pair of Dry Joy golf shoes courtesy of Footjoy. As on the previous day, the shortest drive won a Sun Mountain Carry Bag courtesy of Links Magazine and longest drive won a Titleist Driver each day courtesy of the Acushnet Company. Longest putt won the Bauer International Bar with bar stools from which Kettle One Lemonades were served during the round. The closest anyone got to a hole-in-one on the 7th hole was 11 11 so no one won the new Mercedes, courtesy of Baker Motor Company, Inc.

Following the round came the awards luncheon in Turtle Point’s beautiful clubhouse where every contestant received a team photo in a customized Friendship Cup frame. Scores were tallied and prizes were awarded that included golf vacations to some of America’s finest resorts.

In the end, the Friendship Cup is all about its name — Friendships were made and strengthened, brothers reunited, couples strengthened bonds. Last year’s Friendship Cup had a field of 27 teams. This year’s event jumped substantially through word-of-mouth to 48 teams.

2008 Friendship Cup Winners

Ranking Player(s) Score
1st Place Team Royce Imhoff & Cleves Delp 135
Low Net Winner Royce Imhoff 147
Low Gross Winner Tom Nolan 155

Team Outcome

(Top 10 teams were awarded vacation packages to some of America’s greatest resorts)

Place Team Score
1st Royce Imhoff & Cleves Delp 135
2nd Eric Branch & Jim Woodring 135 (Tiebreaker was 2nd-round total)
3rd Michael Gist & Hugh Hennessy 138
4th Gary Odachowski & Rick Serrins 138 (Tiebreaker was 2nd-round total)
5th Clyde Hiers & David Poulnot 139
6th Arthur Applegate & Joe Kucharski 140
7th Jerry McMiskin & Ed Hemschoot 141
8th Fred Warren & Jack Purcell 142 (Tiebreaker was 2nd-round total)
9th Tom Isaacson & Al Gagliandi 142
10th Mike Elliot & Bill Walden 143

Individual Outcome

The Ocean Course Turtle Point
Closest to the Pin
(Winning framed print of hole signed by Pete Dye) (Winning Footjoy golf shoes)
#5: Gary Boehm – 4’1″ #4: Mike Lynch – 14′ 3″
#8: Andy Pirkle – 8’6″ #7: Scott Leiti – 11’11”
#14: Daniel Abernathy – 5’0″ #16: Tony Packo – 1′ 5 1/2″
#17: Clyde Hiers – 2’3″
Longest Drive
Bob Morrison Tom Detling
Shortest Drive
Chic Vincent Rick Hall
Longest Putt
Reinhold Llerena – 16’0″ Daniel Poulot – 19’9″

Pub Cup Debuts

After the victory of Golf World’s editor in chief and publisher in 2007 spread, the other major publications signed up to vie for the Friendship Cup. Teams were formed from GOLF Magazine, Golf Digest, PGA Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf and Links Magazine, as well as the returning champions. In response to this flood of scribes storming Kiawah Island’s shores, tournament officials opted to create a tournament within a tournament the Pub Cup, where the various teams played for the honor of their publication. While the weather on Kiawah Island superb, unfortunately that wasn’t the case in the Northeast where weather delays the Friday before the tournament caused team members from GOLF Magazine and Travel + Leisure Golf to miss the event. The Links Team of Publisher, Jack Purcell, and Senior Account Executive, Fred Warren, were able to beat out the rest of the teams and took home the 2008 prize the coveted Pub Cup as well as framed photographs of The Ocean Course. We look forward to a full field next year for the 2009 Pub Cup!

Letters From Attendees

I’ve really enjoyed the last 2 years at The Friendship Cup. The dinner, jacket ceremony, and everything else was perfect. I don’t know what else to add but to say it’s one of my favorite events of the year, and I cannot wait to go back again.

The Sanctuary is one of the nicest hotels in America, and the golf is 1st class. Most importantly, it gives me a chance to spend time with friends on the golf course and off it. Geoff and I first met through work as he is the Editor and I the Publisher of Golf World. Since our meeting we’ve played a lot of golf and each year our friendship has grown. I consider him one of my closest friends, and having the ability to participate with a friend and a great golfer in a competitive tournament is a thrill.

Congrats again on another amazing event, and I can’t wait for February 2009.

Tom Nolan
Golf World Magazine
2007 Friendship Co-Champion

Participating in the Friendship Cup was a wonderful experience and one I will not forget. The Sanctuary is a special place and the staff is second to none. They are professional in every sense of the word, but find it easy to make one feel welcome.

Carey Budds

The 2nd Annual Friendship Cup totally exceeded our lofty expectations. The setting, accommodations, hospitality, branding and overall event are nothing short of spectacular.

I’m not sure Cleves and I are worthy champions, but whether we play well or poorly, nobody has more fun than us. We are making a week of it next year.

Congratulations on another fabulous event!

Royce Imhoff
2008 Friendship Cup Co-Champion

Brothers Part II

The Friendship Cup on Kiawah came and went this past weekend, and it was a memorable experience. My younger brother Joe, the golf savant, played as my partner in the two-man better ball competition. The event itself was first-class in every respect and between the sponsors, the Sanctuary, the golf courses and hospitality, there simply was nothing lacking. A most sincere thank you to Tom Bewley and Suzanne Shalaby for their exceptional efforts in putting this event on.

I had invited my brother to play with me for his skills as a player to be sure, but my real motive was for us to log some time together. I left Cleveland in 1997 and since then the distance between us in every respect has expanded. Our parents had both passed away by then and the family that remained was each other and the rest of our brothers and sisters – all in the same area of town. I was the first to leave Joe and my other siblings behind.

In the months and weeks leading up to the event we talked with a greater frequency than we had in years. A few days before, I unfortunately gave my back a good tweak. This prompted great empathy and concern as only a brother can deliver as he asked, “Dumbass, what’d you do that for?”

So Friday I gave my ailing back a rest and watched him play a practice round. In a driving rainstorm I acted as forecaddie and helped with yardages and course management. I also tried to offer a little help with his swing, still quite rusty from its Midwest mid-winter hibernation. Watching him from a distance brought back memories of 15 years ago watching him from the ropes play as a junior golfer. Even though he was errant and wild, his bold beautiful swing still impressed me as it did then.

The tales ran the gamut. He reminded me that I once lined a golf ball off his chest at a distance of about 100 yards, we reenacted our father’s most infamous outbursts, shared our most memorable golf achievements and told off-color stories of countless varieties that left my face aching from the joy.

And after all the laughter subsided we spoke into the wee hours of the morning of matters too personal for print. But the words and the emotions they stirred, like a gentle snowfall, effortlessly filled a void that had been there for sometime, and was much larger than either of us would have ever admitted. I never realized how much he sought my approval, or I his.

There was no fairy tale fulfilled in the golf played over the next two days. I was handicapped by a physical infirmity, Joe by lack of practice, and we weren’t able to overcome. Our bad golf fed off each other and we finished near the bottom of the pack. But we played hard as a team and even dressed like it, courtesy of matching shirts purchased for the tourney by my brother. We looked great.

Despite the scores, by the end of the weekend there was something worth celebrating, somewhere our parents were looking down and smiling – happy that two brothers separated by time and distance had grown exponentially closer, all because of a weekend of golf.

After all was said and done, I drove him to the airport and dropped him at the curb. We briefly said good-bye as only men can – with a one-armed hug and a slap on the back. We exchanged no flowery words, just a few brief, ‘It was great seeing you,’ ‘Thanks for everything,’ and ‘I’ll call you.’ I started to pull away and I felt the distance was about to return.

But I quickly stopped and pulled into reverse. Our time together deserved better. I rolled down the window and said, “I miss you already.” And as I write this, I still do.

Until next time play well,

Originally appeared in the March 7 issue of the
Island Eye News Vol. 3 Issue 22. © 2008 Richard Hricik.

Special Thanks

A special thanks goes to these organizations that donated prizes and products to the second annual Friendship Cup:

Presenting sponsor: Greg Norman Collection

  • Titleist
  • Baker Motor Company Inc.
  • Ben Arnold Beverage Company
  • Anheuser Busch
  • Carolina Wine Source
  • National Distributing Co.
  • Woodford Reserve
  • AdVintage Distributing
  • Links Magazine
  • Golf World Magazine
  • Tommy Bahama Run
  • Aveda
  • Southern Wine & Spirits
  • Ketel One Vodka
  • Anakiri
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Pearlstine Distributors
  • Bauer International
  • Coastal Cigar Company
  • Sysco Food Services
  • Footjoy
  • Naturopathica
  • Champion’s Jackets provide by Jack Nicklaus

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