Spring Fling Tournament – “The Perfect Elixir”

May 17-19, 2021 @ Pinehurst, NC

You’d hardly consider a line-up of teams named Dirty Sons of a Ditcher, Wicked Wicks of the West, Beer City Bowlers, and Ump Stompers, plus four others, to play in a congenial yet competitive lawn bowls tournament. The inaugural Spring Fling in Pinehurst fielded eight four-person teams from Florida and North Carolina. With Covid vaccination shots in the arms and eagerness to play tournament bowls, 32 bowlers came to Pinehurst ready to play. A gas-shortage scare did not impede the determination of these bowlers. One person’s remark summarized the feeling for all, “This tournament is the perfect elixir after the year we’ve had.”

Spring Fling had no entry fees and offered no trophies or prizes. Bragging rights, fun and camaraderie were the only items on the line, and all bowlers got in the spirit of the event for three fun-filled days.

Make no mistake, bowlers came to compete in all three events of pairs, triples and singles. Teams played in either the red or blue division, allowing for a good mix of matches against teams from other clubs. On day one, the four-person teams were split into two squads for a total of 16. Teams played triples and singles on day two with finals for all three events on day three. Regardless of one’s placing on the qualifying days, everyone and every team played in the finals against opponents of the other division and according to their ranking.

The split pairs team, the Florida Hurricanes from Sun City Center, ripped the competition on day one going 6-0, setting up the final that pitted the teammates against each other, with Ron Ridley and Bob Rehn besting club mates Jerry Healy and Bill Sanderson, 12-9. Triples and singles belonged to the local Pinehurst team, Dirty Sons of a Ditcher. Triples skip Dan Delgarn and teammates Jeff Haidet and Terry Wetzel took the honors in the final with a win over the Florida Hurricanes, 14-9. Co-tournament chair, Martha Nilsen from Dirty “Daughters”… won the singles title in a nail-biter over Roger Parkin of Asheville’s Beer City Bowlers. Martha led 16-14 going into the final end, but Roger held shot with a front toucher. With his last bowl Roger tapped his own bowl out, still holding one shot but giving Martha the win at 16-15.

In addition to claiming bragging rights in each of the events, teams competed for overall team ranking. Given their dominance in pairs and good showing in triples, the Florida Hurricanes placed first overall of the eight teams. Two teams finished in a tie for second, the aforementioned Dirty Sons of a Ditcher and Touchers R Us captained by Steve Nelson of Asheville with Burl and Barb Roller of Clearwater and Steve Errickson of Pinehurst.

Spring Fling came about after the Playdowns for the National Championships were cancelled, and Southeast bowlers looked for a way to hold a tournament safely and in compliance with CDC and local guidelines. The May date presented itself as a good outcome. The feedback on the format has been very positive, leading many to think this could become an annual affair.

Steve Nelson