MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The wind cut right through the windbreaker of Don Kelly, an Army veteran from Colorado Springs, Colo., but this didn’t stop him from doing what he loves.
“I’ve golfed in the snow,” said Kelly, who has golfed for the past 20 years. “If I could golf through snow, I can golf through anything.”
Kelly, among 16 other stubborn golfers, went up against the dreary clouds and wintry air to compete in the fifth annual Ham Shoot at the Combat Center’s Desert Winds Golf Course Dec. 17.
In celebration of Christmas, the Golf Course has a tournament where hams are awarded to selected golfers.
At 8 a.m., the golfers loaded up their golf carts, zipped up their jackets and set out on a mission to take home the ham. Starting at the back nine, the competitors waited for the morning hours to take away the cold breeze, but surprisingly, the weather seemed to keep getting worse.
“This shouldn’t affect our game very much, just taking time to warm our hands up before each stroke might make it a longer one,” said Kelly.
As Kelly went on to his third hole, he had one birdie and two bogeys under his belt, but kept an optimistic outlook.
“I’m just warming up,” he said. “I usually play my worse holes in the beginning anyway. This is normal for me.”
Nicholas Shroyer, a native of Walker, Calif., starting playing golf six months ago to wear off boredom.
“I take any opportunity to golf,” said Shroyer. “I’m not necessarily here for the hams, but to put some practice in for my newfound love of the sport.”
By the fifth hole, Shroyer had made one birdie and two bogeys, along with two double bogeys. At that point, Shroyer seemed to lose sight of his love for golf.
“This is what you do when you go over par,” he said, throwing his golf club through the branches of a nearby tree.
At the ninth hole, Kelly was anticipating another birdie when he realized he had aimed at the wrong hole on his second stroke.
“I said I’ve played in snow, but I didn’t say I played well,” he explained.
The golfers gathered in the warmth of the clubhouse at the end of their 18 holes, only to discuss the affect the cold had on their game.
“I golfed so awful,” said Shroyer. “I know I’m not getting a ham. For over half of the game I went over par.”
Surprisingly, Shroyer took home a ham, one of eight honey-glazed hams awarded to the winners of the Ham Shoot. His handicap determined him as one of the winners.
The weather didn’t hold back all the players from showing up, Gary Yandell took first place with a gross score of 74. John Bowen got closet-to-the-pin at the third hole.
“In past years, we have gotten at least 40 golfers in this tournament,” said Todd Wade, manager, Desert Winds Golf Course. “The weather played a big role in the turnout and everyone’s game today.”