The Palouse’s biggest hole-by-hole survival golf event is back for its 70th straight edition today with some familiar faces in the 10-man field.
The Moscow Elks Sole Survivor tournament is set to tee off at 2 p.m. at the club’s nine-hole course off Troy Road. The annual event is open to the public.
The Sole Survivor is a Fourth of July tradition that goes back to the 1940s — or, at least 1950 when the event was first recorded in local newspapers.
“We can go back and document it from the (then Daily Idahonian) and we’ve got it back to 1950,” said Kathy Christian, an Elks golf committee member whose father, Ken Jordan, started the tournament. “Whether it started in ’48, ’49 we don’t know because we don’t’ have it other than the first report in the newspaper.”
The tournament started as an invitation only event with the area’s best golfers selected to take part. Past winners have included UI baseball and basketball coaches, PGA professionals, college deans, amateur champions and even a former PBA bowler, according the Elks’ website.
“Originally, the field was hand-selected by my dad because he wanted the lowest handicap players,” Christian said. “It was an exhibition. He wanted people to come out and watch really good golfers. That was his goal.
“Then we went to qualifying.”
This year’s field includes a plethora of past Elks champions. Included are last year’s champion Barry Kees, four-time champion and five-time Seniors Sole Survivor champion Jerry Curtis, two-time champion Sean Dorigo and four-time Ladies’ Sole Survivor winner Taylor Anderson.
The 10 golfers will start on the first hole of the nine-hole course. After every hole, the player with the lowest score will be eliminated until there are just two left on the final hole, vying for the title and a trophy.
In the case of a tie at any hole, the golfers will do a “chip off” from about 25 yards away from the pin. The player whose shot is furthest from the pin is eliminated.
“It’s not necessarily the best golfer that wins,” Christian said. “It’s the one that can continue beating one other person sometimes.”
While the golf tournament is the main event, there will be several activities on hand. The day starts with a last-chance qualifier for the 10th spot in the field at 8:30 a.m.
At 11:30, the folk/rock band Bear Grass is set to perform, followed by a hot dog barbecue, kids races and a cart parade contest.
“I’ve done a lot of posters and pictures to kind of make it a historic event too,” Christian said.
Last year, the tournament featured some three dozen golf carts, and more fans on foot following the action along the course.
The course itself has features mostly the same layout since it was designed by Frank James in 1928. Golfers will navigate a variety of short holes, long holes, lots of trees and water hazards.
“You have to use your entire bag of clubs,” Christian said. “It just covers almost everything.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @stephansports.