Castleberry Country Club hosts fundraiser

Sandii Castleberry’s wiffle golf fundraising tournament saw its fourth edition on the Castleberry Country Club course last Sunday. In its first year, the tournament has raised money for several worthy local causes and will continue to do so next season.

Sunday’s outing benefited smARTS, an all-volunteer arts program for students at Idyllwild School. Heather Mello, a smARTS volunteer, provided information about the arts program and otherwise assisted Castleberry at the event.

Past winners of the Castleberry tournament have been: Shane Hammond, who won the inaugural Memorial Day event; Gary Cominotto, who prevailed in the July tournament; Aric Anderson, who took the Labor Day trophy with a tournament-record 19-under-par performance; and this Sunday’s winner, Colin Smith.

If you have not yet enjoyed an afternoon at one of Castleberry’s events, you’ve been missing out. If you’ve never played golf before, you need not worry because everyone is good-natured and there are more than a few good laughs out there.

Donations totaling $300 were raised to benefit the Idyllwild School smARTS program this weekend at the Wiffle Ball Golf Tournament. Event coordinator Sandii Castleberry, far left, and Bob Baker watch as Henry Negrete carefully putts the misbehaving wiffle ball into Hole 12.

But if you are a real golfer, I think you will be entertained by the challenge. I personally find Castleberry’s Wiffle Golf Course to be far more enjoyable than a miniature golf course. The wiffle balls allow a full swing.

The Castleberry Country Club course reminds me of what the sport must have been like in the early days of golf, when players slugged it out in the pastures that comprised early Scottish courses.

A great deal of work has gone into preparing the course grounds for each of the tournaments, most of which has been done by Bob Baker and Henry Negrete, who begin their toils about two weeks before each event.

Negrete, the head “brownskeeper,” is the man responsible for the major improvements to the “browns,” which are locations where the pins are placed for each of the 18 holes. Negrete dug out each brown and recessed a large plastic liner flush with the surrounding turf to give golfers a more defined and identifiable hole to target.

Baker, the head “greenskeeper,” is in charge of mowing the tufts of grass on each fairway from tee to brown. Baker said he also is chief of security and club chaplain.

Both men serve with Castleberry and Don DePalma on the board of directors of the course and tournament. Further improvements are planned for the course, including additional, smaller, recessed hole liners for more advanced players, round rebar pins to replace the wooden stakes currently in use, and sand traps and water hazards variously located around the course, according to Brownskeeper Negrete.

Castleberry Country Club is the first 18-hole golf course on the Hill, according to Negrete. The early courses in the meadows along Tollgate and at Dutch Flats, may have had more distance, but they only offered nine holes each.

Castleberry related that considerable expense goes into course maintenance and tournament preparation, including the cost of whiffle balls and clubs. She recently purchased junior-sized golf clubs because she wants to “get more kids on the course.”

Castleberry’s next tournament is planned for early November and will be a fundraiser to defray the cost of future events. She plans to split the proceeds of the November event with the tournament winner, so sharpen your game and plan right now to come on out for an afternoon of fun.