BELLINGHAM - Happy 100th birthday, Bellingham Golf and Country Club.
The old course dressed up pretty nice for the event, too. In addition to its traditional lush fairways and pristine greens, the course was decked out with a bagpiper in full dress just behind the practice putting green and special flags on each hole, commemorating the club's centennial.
"It's special, especially when you consider what it used to be and what it has become today," said Tass Galley, who has been a member at BGCC for 45 years and whose parents were involved with the club before she was born. "My folks would be so proud of how far this club has come. Actually, my mom got to see it. But it's really come a long, long ways."
Galley was one of 80 golfers that registered to play in the Centennial Golf Tournament on Friday, Aug. 10.
The tournament featured two-person teams playing an alternate-shot, match-play format. Teams were separated into flights of four based on their combined handicaps and played three nine-hole matches against each of the other three teams in their flight.
"I don't know if I'm ready for 27 holes," joked Janet Mihara, who's been a member since 1985. "I'm so old, already."
Mihara came ready to celebrate her club's birthday, though, proudly displaying a shirt and pullover with "BGCC, 1912" emblazoned on them.
"It's kind of an out-of-this-world experience," Galley said. "We've had '1912' everywhere and on everything, and it's so special to see we've reached 100 years after that date. Just to tell people from elsewhere that your course is 100 years old and to see their reactions, 'Wow, your course has really been around awhile,' it makes you feel special."
That feeling seemed to be shared by just about everyone before the start of the tournament, as players gathered for breakfast just outside the clubhouse and enjoyed one another's companionship, before a horn started to signal the start of play.
"It's kind of hard to put into words what this means to us," 12-year member Linda Gates said. "This is a part of history, and we're all a part of it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us all. ... I'm really proud of this course. We joined out here because one of my husband's best friends was out here, and I've actually been the one that has gotten really active out here and gotten to know so many new people."
In spite of its reputation for its terrific golfing facilities, the social aspect of the Country Club remains one of the most endearing pieces for many of its members.
"The membership is special," Mihara said. "There are so many nice people, friendly people. I've known people for years, and they're all always willing to help. That's what makes this place special."
And Friday's tournament format - allowing each team to play nine holes against three different teams in its handicap range - did nothing to hurt those feelings.
"Anytime you do something a little bit different like this, which is outside the normal, it's always special," said Jay Hawkins, who has been a member since 2004. "It's fun and competitive. I think it's going to be pretty memorable to play 27 holes with three different groups of people within our flight. We're going to get a chance to play with some different people, maybe meet some new people. It's always great to meet new people out here."
Not just meet, but hopefully beat, too.
In addition to bragging rights for the next century, the winners of each flight received a framed BGCC centennial golf flag.
"We want to have a little fun, but we also want to win," said White Rock, B.C., resident and 20-year women's division member Marj Stock, casting a glance over at playing partner Mihara. "Anybody that doesn't know how to have fun on a day like today, they don't know how. We're expecting to have a great time."
The great times weren't expected to end after the 27 holes had been completed on Friday, either.
A big white tent already sat alongside the ninth fairway in preparation for the Centennial Gala Dinner, which will begin with a 5:30 p.m. reception on Saturday, Aug. 11.
The weekend will wrap up with the Centennial Champagne Brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 12. BGCC General Manager Trent McAllister said the public is invited to attend the brunch, which fittingly costs $19.12 for adults and $12.19 for children 3 to 12.
"It's pretty important for anything to turn 100," Hawkins said. "It's special to be a part of something that is 100 and to be a part of this celebration. This is a milestone for this club and a milestone for this community, and I'm really happy I am here to see it."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
BGCC CENTENIAL GOLF TOURNAMENT
Friday's division winners
Angell Division Mike Burgess & Rick Weihe 35 Points
Sadler Division Brooke Branigan & Tate Head 22 Points
Weihe Division Tom Follis & Scott McBeath 34 Points
Griggs Division Mark & Theresa Cockrell 33 Points
McBeath Division Dave & Carlotta Jarratt 28 Points
Jorge Alvarez & Brannon Stone 28 Points
Russell Division Jim & Christy Thompson 34 Points
Deming Division Perry Mendenhall & Earl Mihara 35 Points
Yurovchak Division Len Gamlin & Janet Copley 30 Points
O'Brien Division Chuck & Marypat Beard 32 Points
Bocci Division Jay Solomon & Chris Portman 31 Points
BGCC CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
? CENTENNIAL GOLF DINNER
Time: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11
The members-only reception with dinner to follow will be held on the ninth fairway and will feature music from the past century, a BGCC history presentation and dancing along with the introduction of some key past and current employees and awards.
? CENTENNIAL CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12
The public is invited to the dining room for traditional breakfast and lunch entries, a gourmet salad bar, made-to-order omelets, carved meat selections and decadent deserts. The cost is $19.12 per adult and $12.19 for children ages 3-12.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.