Chili golf tournament not so chilly

| 08 Feb 2012 | 02:38

AUGUSTA — The United Way of Northern New Jersey's 9th annual Chili Open Golf Classic at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta was held on Jan. 28. “This is the warmest weather that we ever had,” said Chief Professional Officer Mary Emilius. The event was held to raise funds for the United Way of Northern New Jersey. Normally covered in snow, the temporary course featured an occasional muddy patch that could trap a wayward golf ball. “One year, while plowing the fairways, the snowplow truck became stuck in an eight foot high snowdrift,” said Emilius. “We had to bring in a backhoe to pull the truck out of the drift.” Organizers prepare the course in October, anticipating wintery conditions. “We dig the holes in October when the ground is still soft,” said United Way Resource Development Associate Sean Hyland of Vernon. The holes are covered and only re-opened the day of the event. “One year the snow was so deep we couldn't find one of the holes.” Organizers supplied bright orange golf balls. “We gave out orange golf balls to help the golfers in the snow,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey board member Suzanne Swank, “but this year they are just festive.” The course was expanded this year to include 36 holes with the addition of the PSE&G Nine. The CenturyLinks, Sussex Bank Green and Selective Diamonds In The Rough holes made up the other 27 holes. Many of the holes were located on the grassy areas of the fairgrounds, but some were entirely on the paved areas between the buildings. The greens were square sections of carpeting with a hole in the center. The 140 golfers represented a wide range of golf experience. “I go to the driving range,” said Joe Carriera of Swartswood. “I don’t really play golf.” The Sussex Fire Department entered eight players in the event. It was the fifth year the fire department participated in the event. “It's for a good cause,” said Sussex Fire Chief Dan Stoll. Commenting on the early spring-like weather, Stoll said “we like the snow a little better.” When asked if he was getting any better in his fifth tournament, Stoll quickly answered, “no.” A foursome of Kittatinny Regional High School staff members took advantage of the nice weather to play a round of golf for charity. “The paved fairways are very fast,” said physical education teacher Jeff Gely of Stillwater, as his approach shot to the CenturyLinks second hole rolled away from the green. The tournament opened with a shotgun start. Foursomes were sent out to each hole to start simultaneously rather than wait in line at the first hole. The tournament's scramble format kept the event moving. The way it worked is after determining the ball in the best position, the other three players would move their balls to that position and play from there. A reception in the conservatory building provided food and a place for the not-so-chilled golfers to warm up.