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Swinging in the Dark: Players gear up for ‘Moonlight’ over Mint Valley

Swinging in the Dark: Players gear up for ‘Moonlight’ over Mint Valley

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One night a year, as the crisp of autumn sets in all around, the concept of moonlighting as a golfer takes on a whole new meaning at Mint Valley Golf Course.

That’s because for the last decade and a half, or so, the Longview Parks and Recreation department has been running the Moonlight Golf Tournament. And they run it in the dark.

This year the night-vision tournament will be held on Sept. 26.

“It’s fun. We get a lot of repeat people who sign up,” said Steve Plampin, recreation coordinator for Longview Parks and Recreation, and official Moonlight Golf Tournament grand poobah. “It’s a shotgun start so everyone will start at the same time.”

That time? Organizers are shooting for a 7:15 p.m. collective tee time so golfers can find their way to their starting hole in the twilight before embarking on a glow-in-the dark golf odyssey.

“We have glow balls. You put these little glow sticks in the ball. They actually fly okay,” explained Jim Nickerson, Mint Valley Golf Course manager. “And then we put glow sticks out on the course at the 150 marks, the tee box, and the flags so you can kind of see what’s going on.”

The tournament is a best ball style and each golfer must play at least one shot. Since the special glow-in-the-dark golf balls only fly about 80% of a typical ball, golfers are allowed to tee off from the red “Ladies” tees. Additionally, given the fact that the tournament is held in the dark, golf golf carts are prohibited for participants as a nod to safety.

Registration is $35 per person and includes greens fees, a moonlight golf ball and other glowing accessories. Profits are directed back to the Parks and Recreation general fund.

According to Jennifer Wills with Longview Parks and Rec the tournament topped out seven years ago at 76 players, including eight teams from local businesses. That year organizers held two tournaments with players starting on the back nine and front nine, simultaneously. 

Plampin is hopeful that in the COVID-19 induced entertainment vacuum the tournament will once again see a strong turnout. So far there are nine four-player teams registered and now he’s focusing on filling out the lineup for the front nine.

“We used to offer groups of five but we’re not doing that this year due to COVID rules and restrictions at the course,” Plampin said. “But that’s okay. It’s cleaner with four.” 

The tournament includes door and game prizes for participants, and bragging rights for winners. Typically the one-off evening lends to a festive social atmosphere, what with all the glow sticks and whatnot.

“It’s really cool. People have a blast,” Nickerson said.

This year, though, 19th Hole, and other familiar features, will be off limits as part of those COVID-19 precautions. Still, considering circumstances, organizers are confident that those temporary changes won’t do much to spoil the fun of the moonlit festivities. 

“With COVID going on right now we haven’t been able to do many events. Nobody has. So we’re very lucky to be able to do this,” Plampin said.

For additional information, or to register, go online to https://tinyurl.com/y5tu4an3. Inquiries can also be directed to the Longview Parks and Recreation Department by phone at 360-442-5400.

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