With a two-putt par on the par-3 15th hole of the Hankins Course at Silvies Valley Ranch, Darren Kuhn of Pocatello, Idaho closed out his match 4&3 against Jeff Byrnes of Buckley, Wash., to win the 43rd Pacific Northwest Master-40 Amateur Championship.
The championship, which was conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA), consisted of the top amateur male golfers in the Pacific Northwest over the age of 40.
Kuhn has played in eight previous Master-40 championships, and was able to seal the deal this year. He was the medalist in the 2013 championship, and in 2012 he made it all the way to the final match before finishing runner-up.
“The course we played today (the resort’s Hankins Course) suits my game better,” he said after the match. “I generally don’t reach par-5s in two anyway, so the length of Hankins is just about right for me.”
Kuhn did reach one of the par-5s, the downhill 14th. He hit 8-iron for his second shot and put the ball 10 feet from the hole, looking at eagle. He had watched Byrnes put his second shot over the green, from which Byrnes would then have to take an unplayable-lie penalty, eventually conceding the hole to Kuhn.
Kuhn sealed the match and the title on the next hole, the par-3 15th. “I hit a 9-iron there, because I knew I did not want to go long and into the back bunker.” His ball ended up just on the front fringe, and when Byrnes put his tee shot into the back bunker leading to a very difficult shot, Kuhn easily two-putted from the fringe and closed out the match when Byrnes couldn’t get up and down.
Kuhn had been the No. 22 seed entering the match play portion of the championship, but marched his way through the bracket, eventually defeating Byrnes, who had been the No. 1 seed and co-medalist.
To reach the final match this year, Kuhn defeated Steve Rude (Vancouver, Wash.) 6&4 in yesterday’s semifinal match. Rude had been the other co-medalist still remaining in the field. Kuhn intends to play in the PNGA Mid-Amateur later this year, to be held Sept. 5-7 at Crane Creek Country Club in Boise in his home state of Idaho. Kuhn, 51, is a salesman for Oroweat.
Byrnes, 43, attended St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash., and got his Master’s degree at the University of Washington. He is a school principal in the White River School District, outside of Tacoma, Wash., and his home course is Washington National Golf Club in Auburn, Wash.
The two courses – Hankins and Craddock – at The Retreat & Links at Silvies Valley Ranch were designed by Dan Hixson, a native of Portland, Ore. who has designed other top Northwest courses. The uniqueness of the Hankins and Craddock courses is that they are reversible – among the 36 holes, there are just 27 greens and 16 fairways.
Silvies Valley Ranch is a 140,000-acre working cattle ranch. Dr. Scott Campbell, a native of nearby Burns, Ore. who made his mark as a veterinarian and CEO and former owner of Banfield Pet Hospital, purchased the property in 2007, and has performed extensive renovations to it, with the Retreat & Links now being the most public. Along with the two full-length golf courses, there is 9-hole par-3 course called Chief Egan, and a 7-hole extreme golf experience called McVeigh’s Gauntlet, which will open in July 2018 and come complete with goat caddies.
The Pacific Northwest Master-40 Amateur is one of 15 major, regional, amateur championships for men, women, juniors, and seniors conducted annually by the PNGA throughout the Northwest.
The PNGA was founded on February 4, 1899. It is a 501c3 charitable, international, amateur golf association dedicated to preserving the true spirit of golf by supporting its allied associations, conducting quality championships, and promoting activities beneficial to golfers in the Pacific Northwest. For more than a century, the Association has been a pioneer in developing competitions and services and its mission has grown and evolved. Today, the PNGA remains committed to being a truly regional organization providing benefits and services to its members and member clubs throughout the Northwest.