I still remember the final hole at my first Wet Dog Fur Open golf tournament.
It was 1989 at Liberty Lake Golf Course, and our four-man scramble team – captained by former Spokesman-Review golf writer Steve Bergum – sat safely in the fairway with a one-shot lead, a small gallery gathered behind the 18th green as my brother Jess lined up for a simple little approach shot.
No problem. Hit the green in regulation, two putt, celebrate.
That didn’t happen, of course. He yanked it left and broke his collarbone instead.
This was the Wet Dog Fur, after all.
For 35 years, the S-R sports department’s unauthorized golf tournament has rarely followed script while producing enough embarrassing moments to make even John Daly blush.
Dancing in the fairways. Golf carts gone awry. Ball washers magically catching on fire. The Wet Dog Fur’s early years were to golf what Velveeta was to fondue.
Started in 1984 by longtime Spokesman-Review sports editor Jeff Jordan, the tournament was inspired by an angry reader telling him his sports section smelled like Wet Dog Fur.
And we’ve stunk it up ever since. Dozens of current and former S-R staffers – and so many others, including friends, relatives and even strangers – have played over the years.
Always scheduled for the second Monday of June, the Wet Dog Fur is circled on most of our calendars like Christmas.
Until this year.
Like most everything else this spring, our tournament was shelved by COVID-19. While not exactly a sad moment (on a scale of 1 to 100, the Wet Dog Fur barely registers a fore!), it’s a nostalgic one nonetheless.
So instead of teeing off on Monday, we’re looking back.
I’m in my fourth year now as sports editor, which also requires me to organize the tournament and pick the teams. My stacked 2019 team included two bartending friends and my brother. (I actually picked bartenders for the obvious reasons … who knew they could golf, too!)
Somehow, Jess and I won for the first time since that first time 30 years ago.
And Monday, June 12, 1989, still seems like yesterday.
“I think you need to take me to the hospital,” I remember Jess calmly telling me shortly after executing a perfect, Chevy Chase-like pratfall following his disastrous approach shot.
“Not until you guys putt,” Bergum yelled from his cart.
Victory finally in hand and Jess’ collarbone sticking out of his shirt, Bergum convinced us to hang around long enough to collect our Dog trophies. Two hours later, we were still there, still celebrating, as we all medicated to help Jess through the pain.
It hurts to go through these months without our usual favorites. Bloomsday. Hoopfest. Ironman.
But everything will be back eventually. Even our little Wet Dog Fur Open.
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