The feature tournament of the Ironman is the Egg. After the first Ironman tournament was played in October 1989, we decided to move to a spring event for 1990. However, when scheduling with the Jekyll Pro Shop, we found only one weekend available – Easter weekend.
That weekend, ten of us heathens played the first Egg. These eggs were actually yellow golf balls that Steve had painted blue, thus resembling Easter Eggs. The blue paint easily transferred from the ball to the club, reminding players of that first tournament for many years.
One item to note – the Egg has been played on all three courses, however, Oleander, with its tight fairways and water, has proven to be THE Egg course. Consistently, year after year, less than 50% of the eggs that start the round do not finish the round.
Memorable events from over the years -
- In 1990, the team of Mike Harris/Jim Dunkin was standing on the #8 tee with a chance to win the tournament. Dunkin sizing up an 8 iron to hit around the lake to the green on this par 3. Unfortunately, the strategy failed as he sliced his egg into a pine tree which then bounced into the middle of the lake. Of course, pressure of us standing at the green and comments coming from Mr. Harris might have contributed as well.
- Steve hitting his egg into the palm tree on #6, burying the ball in the heart of the tree, then climbing on top of his golf cart in a futile attempt to climb the tree and grab the ball that was in full view.
- Tony Wiles on #12 removing socks and shoes to jump into the left-side lake to successfully retrieve his egg. Upon climbing out of the lake, he immediately dropped his ball and hit it, dripping wet and shoeless…into the right-side lake.
- Big Money Bob Zigarac on the #18 tee box, needing only to finish the hole to win the tournament. Unfortunately, a vicious duck hook deep into the woods followed. His playing partner, Pat Mahoney, immediately removed his bag from the cart and proceeded without another word down the fairway and directly to his car.
Ironman Tournament Format
During the first tournament, five of us just played 90 holes to see if we could do it. Starting in 1990, the concept of five tournaments was born. The Scramble, Egg, Best Ball, and Individual tournaments easily integrated themselves into the overall tournament, both from a standpoint of timing and location. However, the Saturday afternoon round proved to be problematic for some time.
- In 1991, the Saturday afternoon round was called The Speck. Specks were awarded for long drive, first on green, closest to the pin, and one putts.
- This tournament produced the longest rounds in history, with strategy involving dinking the ball down the fairway, then chipping closest to the hole and sinking the putt for two specks.
- In 1993, The Speck was replaced with an alternate shot format, which, combined with heavy alcohol consumption, produced the most confusing rounds in history.
- In 1996, we moved to match play. This format was discontinued after Steve closed out Jim Cleveland, ala Tiger vs. Stephen Ames, 10 and 8.
- In 1998, we moved to the Skins format. After much failed experimentation, the Skins tournament has proven to be a winner, providing a “moving day” opportunity for players.
In 1997, we started the tradition of awarding a special trophy to the individual whose nocturnal activities adversely affected their next day playing partners.
- Noel Rodriquez was the first recipient, thusly named the Noel Rodriquez Memorial Award.
- In 2013, we implemented split tees for higher and lower handicaps. One player, Silvio Cabrera, complained long and loud about the change. As a result, the name of the award was changed to the Cabrera Blue Tees Award.
- In 2017 only, the name of the award was changed to “I Walk Alone”, in remembrance of a tough Skins outing for Pat Mahoney.
One Sunday, an unexpected cold front blew in with 40 degree weather and horizontal rain. Many were unprepared and played in shorts (Jim Rice) and cleated sandals (David King).
Jim Roth arrives on the 18th tee box in the Scramble with only 2 drives on the card. He splashes his drive, followed closely by his brand-new 3 iron.
Jim Dunkin and the famous 8 iron with the Egg. Used it on every shot, lost it every round.
Ida - Beer Girl Extraordinaire -
- In 1993, the club agreed to allow us our own beer girl. During the first round, Ida Becker, now Centner, wandered throughout all three courses, selling beer and making friends everywhere, in addition to raking in over $200.00 in tips alone. Ironmen drank for free that year, club discontinued the Ironman Beer Girl concept soon thereafter.
Mark Winn and Bill Cardwell having their golf clubs stolen from their trunk, then somehow believing Steve was responsible. Their rental clubs were classic as were their scores for the weekend.
Champions Dinner – this annual kick-off event was first held in 2014 to honor our four-time champion, Jim Rice. Originally held at Crane Cottage, the dinner moved to the Jekyll Ocean Club in 2019.
Some complain about Villas by the Sea, but speak with anyone about our early years at the Seafarer.
Since his first Ironman in 1999, Richard Byrd has missed only two tournaments – one in 2001 for the birth of his grandson and the 2019 tournament to attend that grandson’s high school graduation.
Thursday, May 17, 2001 – Steve is on the Jekyll practice tee, one player short of a full field. Also on the tee is an individual named Bob Zigarac who accepted Steve’s invitation to the play in the tournament. Over the past eighteen years, he has been a tremendous part of the Ironman success story, and with his retirement at the 2019 event, Big Money Bob will be missed but not forgotten.