By Ellie Chandler

The Bulletin

The serious game of golf took a lighthearted turn along the rolling fields and rocky forest of Bend’s Whistle Stop Farms Saturday morning for a no-rules tournament in a cow pasture.

Participants of many experience levels turned out for the second annual Cow Pasture Open, which was sponsored by American Legion Post 44 of Redmond and allowed players to use almost anything they wanted to knock a tennis ball around the 15-hole course.

Open players used tennis rackets, baseball bats, croquet mallets and golf clubs to hit the tennis balls. One woman brought an old canoe paddle.

The open is a fundraiser for Central Oregon veterans, said Jack Newcomb, service officer of American Legion Post 44.

“Last year we concentrated on Central Oregon’s Veteran Ranch,” he said. “This year, they’re going to get part of (the proceeds), but we’re going to broaden our reach a little bit because there are a lot of needy veterans in Central Oregon. We want to spread the money around as much as we can.”

This was Newcomb’s second year helping to organize the Cow Pasture Open. When asked how they decided on such an unorthodox game of golf as a fundraiser, he deferred to Karen Murray.

Murray, of Redmond’s Wicker Restoration, came across the idea for cow pasture golf several years ago. Realizing the game’s potential to raise funds for a meaningful cause, Murray suggested it to the commander of American Legion Post 44.

“It is to support the veterans in Central Oregon,” Murray said. “Especially our young people in the National Guard who are deployed. The families remaining at home sometimes have serious (financial) problems.”

With raised tees, water hazards and rocky bunkers, this year’s course was indeed a challenge. Players competed — either individually or in teams — for donated prizes, including pots of perennials, cases of beer, homemade pies and other baskets of goodies.

Laughter and sunshine were abundant on the course. Dustin Hewitt, 42 and president of Redmond’s Chamber of Commerce, played with his team of four. “We like to support the community, and this is a good way for us to get out and have some fun,” he said.

But Hewitt had a small confession to share. “I’ve never golfed once in my life,” he said. “This is my first time.”

Hewitt’s teammate, Emily Mooney, 35 and also from Redmond, enjoyed her first game of cow pasture golf. “It’s fun!” she said. “I like that it’s different. I don’t feel like I have to be serious, because I would have no idea what I was doing.”

Mooney’s hitting implement of choice was a tennis racket, which seemed to be working much better than Hewitt’s croquet mallet.

Among other players was 69-year-old Leslie Weaver, of Bend, who participated in the tournament with a team of five. When asked why they decided to enter this year’s Cow Pasture Open, Weaver promptly responded, “Because we’re crazy.”

Though she joked about the silly nature of the game, Weaver added, “Veterans deserve all the support they can get, and if we can help just a little bit, we’re happy.”

— Reporter: 541-382-1811, echandler@bendbulletin.com

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