To win last year’s Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament, Lance Kilbride didn’t need to hit long, towering drives or tap tricky, bending putts.
He just needed to hang around.
A ho-hum strategy, perhaps, but one that turned out to be good enough. Because as other contenders “kind of
all fell down, I just kind of held on,” recalled Kilbride, who eased in front over the final few holes and finished with a one-stroke victory.
And since it worked so well a year ago, Kilbride plans a similar approach for this weekend’s 81st annual County Am.
“I don’t feel like I’m the best golfer in the county,” said the 49-year-old Kilbride, the assistant superintendent at Mukilteo’s Harbour Pointe Golf Club. “Some of those kids are real good. And (four-time champion) Alex Stamey, there’s no one better than him when he’s playing good.
“But I’ve been playing pretty good for the most part (in recent weeks),” he said. “I’ve been hitting it straight, and I’ve got some new irons and they seem to go a little farther. So I’m really looking forward to it. I’m playing pretty good right now and I just hope it continues for one week.”
Kilbride, who has a 0.1 handicap, will be one of several contenders in this year’s field, which includes top players with established handicaps at public and private courses around Snohomish County.
Two players bidding for a slice of County Am history are Stamey and Todd Tibke, each with four tournament wins. Stamey had victories in 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2008, while Todd Tibke placed first in 1987, 1988, 1999 and 2001.
If either Stamey or Tibke wins this year, he will tie Bob Whisman (1952, 1954, 1955, 1961 and 1964) for the most victories in County Am history.
And both are playing well enough to be legitimate contenders. Stamey, who represents Everett Golf and Country Club, has a 0.5 handicap. Tibke, who plays out of Snohomish Golf Course, is even better at +1.8.
Two other past champions are in this year’s field. Stephen Lee of Everett G&CC (0.1) won in 2009, and Jeff Strickland of Mukilteo’s Harbour Pointe Golf Club (0.9) was the 1996 champ.
The field of 141 includes 15 golfers with plus handicaps. Robert Kaindl of Harbour Pointe has the low handicap of the field with a +3.5, just barely better than Matt Epstein (+3.4) and Reid Martin (+3.3), both of Everett G&CC.
Other low handicappers include Andrew Gihm, Harbour Pointe (+2.1); Chris Babcock, Harbour Pointe (+1.2); Sean Fitzpatrick, Super Range (+1.1); Dylan Goodwin, Harbour Pointe (+0.8); Mark Strickland, Harbour Pointe (+0.8); Scott Bridgman, Harbour Pointe (+0.7); Paul Pavlos, Echo Falls Golf Club (+0.5); Kung Chih Chang, Harbour Pointe (+0.3); Craig Crawford, Battle Creek Golf Course (+0.3); Dustin Caldwell, Cedarcrest Golf Course (+0.2); and Daniel Lesnett, Lynnwood Golf Course (+0.1).
According to tournament director Jason Hemple, 37 members of this year’s field are 21 or younger, meaning a large number of high school and college golfers are entered.
“I think the quality (of the field) has improved and we’re getting younger players involved,” said Hemple, an assistant pro at Everett G&CC. “Year after year the field keeps getting stronger and younger.
“The depth is very good,” he added, “so I think it’s wide open.”
The first division, for golfers with handicaps of 4.9 and less, plays its opening round at Everett’s Legion Memorial Golf Course, then moves to Marysville’s Cedarcrest Golf Course for Sunday’s second round, and plays the traditional final round Monday at Everett Golf and Country Club.
The second division, for golfers with handicaps of 5.0 to 10.0, and the third division, for those with handicaps of 10.1 and higher, opens at Cedarcrest on Saturday, plays at Everett G&CC on Sunday, and closes at Legion Memorial on Monday.
Starting times for the first two rounds begin at 6:30 a.m. and continue to 9:30 a.m.
The tournament is open to the public. There is no admission charge.