Dennis Bush and Christian Martin sat at a table near the door inside the restaurant where golfers gathered Sunday following the final round of Bradenton/Sarasota Two-Man North/South Championship. As golfers passed to leave Bobby Jones Golf Club, each stopped for a brief moment to thank Martin and Bush for putting together such an unorthodox event.
The two-day event was, in the opinion of Bush and Martin, an overwhelming success, exceeding even the loftiest expectations they could have placed upon it. Before the day was done, the two club professionals were already thinking about the future.
“We may try to create another event and hold something in August,” said Martin, the club pro and assistant general manager at Bobby Jones in Sarasota. “They were all saying, ‘Can you do more? What can you do?’”
The field of 94 players already came close to rivaling the city championships each club hosts — those events typically draw more than 110 golfers apiece. Both Martin and Bush expect the field to easily surpass 100 next year.
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“For the first tournament, that was a phenomenal turnout,” said Bush, the general manager and club pro at River Run Golf Links in Bradenton. “This could end up being the biggest one around.”
The two-day tournament began at River Run on Saturday. The tournament doesn’t pit Manatee County and Sarasota County against each other — North/South refers to drawing players from two different golf courses. Teams of two played the first round in Bradenton on Saturday and played the second round in Sarasota.
Tim Judy and Phil Walters won the championship flight by shooting 18-under. Jim Pfrogner and Mike LaBue won the super senior flight in a playoff after shooting 12-under. Wayne Anderson and James Dougherty won the first flight at 5-under, and Shane Fairchild and Patrick Shea won the second flight at 4-over.
The North/South Championship ultimately fulfilled what Bush had in mind when he first pitched the idea to Martin. It filled a void in the summer tournament schedule and prompted a rare collaboration between two neighboring cities.
“I had a lot of guys playing here that don’t normally play here. I had a lot of guys playing at River Run who don’t normally play at River Run,” Martin said. “We’re looking forward to just creating more stuff, keeping a buzz of golf going all year round.”