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By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- In his first appearance in the event, Brian Snow, from the Loudoun Golf and Country Club, took Top Pro honors with a 65 and led the top team, with a score of 118, in the 17th Annual Apple Blossom Festival Pro-Am Golf Tournament at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club on Wednesday.
There were 51 teams, each comprising one pro and three amateurs, entered in the tournament. They were split into morning and afternoon shotgun tee times.
Snow was in the morning group, which had more favorable weather than the afternoon group, which had to deal with a nearly constant wind of 10 mph. There were also frequent gusts ranging from 25 to 35 mph.
"We lucked out a lot [with the morning start]" Snow said. "When we teed off there was hardly any wind at all. It was pretty calm until near the end of the round.
"I played the par fives really well today. I birdied all three of them. That was key in an event like this, where the course is fairly short. You have to take advantage of holes you can score well on.
"The key on any of the holes is to keep it in play where you can advance the ball, because the rough is pretty thick and nasty. On my last par five, the ninth whole on the white course, I made a 25-foot putt for birdie, which was kind of unexpected, but it was good."
Snow's amateur teammates carded the following scores: Josh Mock scored a 65 (fifth place), Gary Ashton scored a 66 (tied for sixth) and Josh Mearkle scored a 72.
"[The team win] is what we were really looking forward to [getting]," Snow said.
"It was a lot of ham and egg to be honest. It seemed like every hole that either John [Mock] or Gary [Ashton] was out of it, the other one was in it. It was a true team effort and pretty rare for an event like this, to have all four guys play well when you needed them to play well."
Dirk Schultz, from the Beaver Creek Country Club in Hagerstown, Md., has participated in all 17 Apple Blossom Pro-Am tournaments. Schultz's 66 left him one stroke behind Snow.
"My round was boring and frustrating," Schultz said. "I made the green in one on blue course hole seven, then three-putted. But I birdied my last four holes to finish in good shape.
"The fog cleared early, the course is in good shape and the pin placements were fair."
Three pros finished tied at 68: Jerry Donohue (Golf Tour Trailer, Gainesville), Tim Ganse (Winchester and Woody's Golf Range, Fairfax) and Tim McKee (Virginia National Golf Club, Bluemont).
Three amateurs tied at 62 for best net score: Joe Passero (Argyle Country Club, Silver Spring, Md.), Charles Bentley (Winchester), and Dan Argiro.
Dave Gudinas' 64 was good for fourth place.
Kevin Miskimins' (Winchester) 67 took Best Amateur Gross Score honors, and Josh Riggleman (Winchester) took second with a 71. Gudinas' 73 took third.
Top senior professional efforts were turned in by Mark Guttenberg's (Aldie) 69, Marty O'Rear's (Westwood Golf and Country Club, Vienna) 70, and Butch Butler's (Cedar Point Golf Club, Patuxent River, Md.) and Tim White's (Lake Chesdin Golf Club, Chesterfied) 75.
Jeff Forman became head golf professional at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club two months ago, after serving as an assistant pro for 10 years.
"We had about the same number of teams as last year," Forman said, "51 to 55 is usually a good number for us due to the course layout and the shotgun start.
"Many players commented on how great of shape the course is in. Peter Schmidt, our superintendent, did a great job.
"I had nothing but positive comments from the players throughout the day, about the course, the tournament itself, and the way things were run. Customer service is our biggest thing, just making sure everybody is having a good time."