Ryan Reynolds, AJGA Communications
Saturday morning marked the beginning of the 31st annual CB&I / Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods, and with President’s Day around the corner, the course was dressed with a symbolic theme.
Junior golfers and spectators found themselves surrounded by patriotism; from the American flags at the tees, to the special guest servicemen starters.
Ninth-year Tournament Chairman Christine Dernick said Carlton Woods is geared up for the special occasion.
“With the tournament falling over President’s Day weekend, we decided to adopt a patriotic theme,” Dernick said. “This is just a time to remember what all these people are doing for us. They’re carrying weapons on their backs while we have the luxury of carrying golf clubs.”
Two servicemen were given the honor of starting the junior golfers at Nos. 1 and 10 as they kicked off their rounds. Staff Sergeant Christopher Fritzke announced names at No. 1, while Specialist Hayden White spoke at No. 10.
“I think it was a great honor,” Fritzke said. “Especially with the golf course being associated with Jack Nicklaus. It brings back so many memories of sitting on the couch on a Sunday morning with my grandfather as he watched all those great golfers.”
Both Fritzke and White were dressed in full uniform as the junior golfers, AJGA staff and spectators approached them to give their thanks for protecting the country.
“Everyone here has been absolutely great,” Fritzke said. “We’ve been well-received, from the staff and all the golfers. Everyone has taken great care of us and we really appreciate how we’ve been treated today.”
Dernick thinks those who served, whether fallen, retired, or currently serving, should be appreciated and honored for risking their lives every day. She thinks the patriotic theme is a good way to pay respect.
“It gives them a chance to recognize and remember those who have fallen and those who have suffered,” Dernick said. “It impacts so many people. One of the neatest things is I remember Aden Ye [a junior golfer from China] telling me that he looks forward to coming to this event and getting this golf bag [which is designed after the American flag].”
The CB&I / Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods was originally scheduled to conclude Monday, but due to predicted weather conditions, the tournament will be a two-day 54-hole event. The second round will resume Sunday morning at 8 a.m.