By Colin McCandless for The Island Connection
The annual Three Island Challenge golf event, which pitted teams from Wild Dunes Resort, Seabrook Island Club and Kiawah Island Golf Resort against each other in a game called “Nines,” produced a new winner this year.
Defending champs Team Wild Dunes won the first leg on their home course, but Team Seabrook was just too strong over the final two matches, claiming the trophy in 2018.
Mike Gollobin, president of the Men’s Golf Association at Wild Dunes, who helps coordinate the Wild Dunes team, said he knew it would be tough to maintain the lead when they only went up 11 points after the first match, as playing on one’s home course is an advantage.
Seabrook Island held a comfortable edge in points heading into the last match, played Nov. 14 at Crooked Oaks Course, and they maintained their lead to claim the trophy, their second win in the past three years in the event.
John Haberern, president of the Men’s Golf Association at Seabrook, said his team really enjoys the camaraderie of the Three Island Challenge and getting together to play different area courses.
“It’s just a fun event,” Haberern said.
Bill Burnett, treasurer and official stat keeper for the Kiawah Men’s Golf Association, echoed these sentiments. “It’s an enjoyable thing. You get to meet a lot of people,” Burnett said. “We’re probably more in it for the camaraderie than the winning, but winning’s important too.”
The courses played this year included the aforementioned Crooked Oaks Course at Seabrook Island, Links Course at Wild Dunes and Kiawah’s Turtle Point.
For the most part, the event went smoothly but inclement weather did interfere with the first round match, originally scheduled to be played Oct. 10 at Seabrook’s Ocean Winds Course. That match was made up on Nov. 14 and played instead on Seabrook’s Crooked Oaks Course, a beautiful Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed golf course winding through marsh and maritime forest.
The match was moved to Crooked Oaks, because it was in better playing condition at that time then Ocean Winds. When it was initially scheduled on Oct. 10, Ocean Winds hadn’t been affected by any fall over seeding of the course, whereas Crooked Oaks had. By the Nov. 14 make up date, Ocean Winds had been over seeded more recently than Crooked Oaks, so the latter was selected as the event venue.
In terms of player selection, Haberern explained that Seabrook holds qualifying matches to determine who plays on their Three Island Challenge team. Additionally, if you win your first match in the Challenge you stay on for the second match, and if you lose you move back into qualifying rounds. Thus the winners of the third match at Crooked Oaks this year qualified for the first match in next year’s event.
Seabrook has this luxury, Haberern said, because they have a “very active men’s group.”
Kiawah, who finished in second, says they have a lot of the same names on their team each year, but they do select people from a list based on a points system that involves active participation and winning.
Although they didn’t win this year, Gollobin said the Three Island Challenge, which originated in 1991 to create a spirit of camaraderie and friendly competition among the three islands, is a great event to experience some of the area’s best courses and facilities.
“Seabrook’s got the most magnificent clubhouse,” noted Gollobin. “Everybody enjoys going there.”
There’s a luncheon and awards ceremony following the completion of the event where players get the opportunity to mingle or say hello to people they have played against in the past.
While each team had some good individual scores for Nines, a game that bases scoring around the largest handicap in a threesome, one of Kiawah’s players reached 70 points in the final round (50s and 60s are regarded as a good score) at Crooked Oaks, which is considered an excellent score.
“That’s always pretty impressive,” said Gollobin.
In addition to the challenge, Kiawah and Seabrook also play a head to head match play event in the spring. Although Kiawah has suffered a bit of a winning drought in the Three Island Challenge, Burnett said that they have managed more recent wins in this particular competition.
All three teams will gather as always in December to decide on the dates and courses for the following year’s Challenge. The competition is always played in the fall, and Haberern said it’s typically played on Wednesdays since it’s often most convenient for the players and easier to book the courses that day.
“It’s a great time to get together with people you know and have a competition,” Haberern said.