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With just over two dozen teams, the tournament took place with some significant changes

Golf is a sport that many have participated in during the pandemic as a way of getting out and exercising while maintaining a safe distance from others.

With that in mind and myriad safety precautions in place, the Newberg Boosters Club hosted its third annual golf tournament and helicopter ball drop Aug. 16 at Chehalem Glenn Golf Course, all in an effort to raise money for Newberg High School students.COURTESY PHOTO: NHS BOOSTER CLUB - Newberg High School vice principal and dozens of others participated in the Newberg Booster Club's annual golf tournament at Chehalem Glenn Golf Course.

Attendance was surprisingly strong at the event, where a small group of volunteers wore masks and maintained social distance. Patrons were required to do the same, until they were allowed to remove masks once they were a safe distance from one another out on the course.

Despite the restrictions, organizers attempted to inject some fun into the event with on-course games and "mulligans" for tournament participants.

"It was a great success and a bit of a surprise considering everything that's going on," organizer Jen Yahn said. "The community rallied, and we ended up having 25 teams come to play that morning. It was definitely different than in years past. We normally have more of a party atmosphere where there is lots of other things to do, but we kept it simple this year to keep folks safe."

The Kona Ice truck was in attendance serving up ice cold treats for the teams, who baked under the 100-degree heat as the day wore on. Water was distributed by volunteers at the event, provided by Les Schwab Tires. Sponsor and community support was strong, Yahn said, and safety was paramount.

"Check-in was kept to a very small number of volunteers, all wearing masks and keeping a proper distance," she said. "We had just eight volunteers, and normally we would have a crew of 30 to 40. It was a controlled environment just to be careful for everybody, but it was still a lot of fun."

The annual helicopter ball drop is a tradition at the tournament that brings plenty of excitement for those in attendance. Participants purchase golf balls with proceeds going to the NHS boosters and a massive number of golf balls are then dropped out of a helicopter above one of the greens. If a ball somehow lands in the hole, the person who purchased it wins a cash prize.

One person had a ball land in the hole this year after three did last year. The event sold double the amount of golf balls than in 2019, and the event raised between $4,000 and $5,000 for the students, Yahn estimated.

It was nice, she said, for many to get out of the house and participate in a fun bit of exercise and community bonding, even if people couldn't congregate in ways they had at past events. Still, with sizeable attendance and money still flowing in for students, the tradition of the annual tournament remained as strong as ever despite the pandemic.

"Golf is a natural distance sport," Yahn said. "Two people per cart was allowed because we were in phase two and they were mostly families. So many of our teams are parents, and they bring their kids out along with other family members. It was a lot better attendance-wise than what we were expecting.

"We didn't start planning until about six weeks out because we weren't sure if we would be able to hold it. That speaks volumes to the support the event has that you can roll up late in the game and people will still sign up and support. It was a good third year with double the helicopter balls. Maybe next year we'll need two helicopters."


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