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Brad Sawyer Memorial Golf Tournament remains resilient

Brad Sawyer Memorial Golf Tournament remains resilient
Press photo by John Burbridge
Colton Slinger attempts to sink a putt while three-player-team teammates Tony Slinger and Carter Johanningmeier look on during the Brad Sawyer Memorial Golf Tournament held July 18 at Wildwood Golf Course.

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — The COVID pandemic has wreaked havoc on the golf scene much like Bill Murray’s “Carl Spackler” did to the Bushwood Country Club course in Caddyshack.

All the majors have been affected resulting in rescheduling as well as the cancellation of the (British) Open Championships.

The Brad Sawyer Memorial Golf Tournament held annually at Wildwood Municipal Golf Course in Charles City looked as if it was also going to be a COVID casualty.

“We weren’t too sure it was going to happen,” said Brad Sawyer’s surviving mother Annie. “We didn’t want to be that event from where another breakout can be traced to.

“But we got a lot of responses from people who were hoping we were still going to hold it. So we worked with Wildwood and (Wildwood superintendent) Joel Bruner about setting guidelines like limiting the number of people in the clubhouse at one time to make it safe enough to hold it.”

The most recent event took place July 18 during an exceedingly hot and humid Saturday afternoon. It was the 21st annual and the 20th held — the summer flood of 2017 washed out the tournament that year.

One of the biggest annual golf events in the city, the Brad Sawyer Memorial Golf Tournament attracts participants from across the state and even from out of state.

“They usually spend the weekend here … come in on Friday and don’t leave until Sunday,” Annie said.

Many of the regular participants were friends, school mates and golfing buddies of Sawyer.

The tournament is usually booked to capacity with 27 three-player best-shot teams.

“We had a couple drop off this year because of pandemic concerns,” Annie said. “It still is a good turnout.”

Sawyer was a member of the Charles City High School golf team, but didn’t give up the sport after graduation. Wildwood was Sawyer’s favorite place to be weather permitting as his family and friends often knew where to find him if needed.

Shortly after Sawyer died in an automobile accident on Oct. 13, 1999, his father Scott Sawyer — an avid golfer himself who often played with his son — started the tournament in Brad’s memory.

After Scott died in 2010, Annie and Brad’s sister, Tara — both varsity golfers in high school — have managed to keep the tournament going with the help from family and friends as well as from Bruner.

Proceeds from the event go to cash prizes and for continual upgrades to the Wildwood course.