Golfers gather for 10th Stringer

From the left, Mark Lewis, Ron Smith, Mike Noon and Tim Smith celebrate their victory Saturday in the 10th annual Larry Stringer Golf Tournament. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

RAY BROOK — There’s no golf event quite like the annual Larry Stringer Tournament, which was held for the 10th consecutive year on Saturday at the Saranac Lake Golf Club in Ray Brook.

Every year on the third Saturday in June, friends gather together, play together and enjoy friendships on the course while raising money for the Larry Stringer scholarship that benefits graduating seniors from Saranac Lake High School. And following their 18 holes of play, golfers enjoy the pig roast that has become just as much of a tradition as the action on the links.

This year, on a hot, sunny day, the team of Tim and Ron Smith, Mike Noon and Mark Lewis came through with the victory, firing an 11-under par 59 to win by two strokes in the four-person scramble format tournament.

Each summer, the field is full well in advance of the tournament, and after a decade of running the event, Saranac Lake resident Larry Pickreign has decided to step down from his role as director and main organizer. The day on the course honors Larry Stringer, who used to own Saranac Lake’s iconic Waterhole bar and loved the game of golf.

“It’s a lot of fun. The big thing is I get to play with my family and the Stringers,” said Pickreign, who played in a foursome with his father John and his two sons Larry and Andrew. “We did make some money for the scholarship fund again, and my team shot a 67 — the best score we’ve ever shot here.”

Jason Walker reacts to narrowly missing a putt while teammates, from left, Matt Bourey, Bill Vaughn and Jay Courcelle watch closely during Saturday’s 10th annual Larry Stringer Golf Tournament. The foursome took second place with a nine-under par 61. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Next year, Pickreign will be able to play with family members again without the added pressure of organizing the tournament. There are still some details to be worked out, but the event is planned to be held for the 11th time next summer with Jeff Romano taking over as director. That news was confirmed Monday morning by Georgia Murphy, who dedicated much of her time assisting Pickreign in putting the tourney together.

Tim Smith said his team’s triumph was a long time coming.

“We’ve been pecking,” Smith said. “You try your best, you leave a few out there, you take what you get and you accept what you don’t get. It’s all for a great cause. This is the last Larry Stringer tournament but it’s not the last because Jeff Romano is going to take it over. It should continue on because it’s a fabulous tournament. The groundwork has been established. We play for the cause. There’s waiting list. I love that. It’s good to see continuation.

“What we did well was we had a great group with us,” Smith continued. “The people that we play with, they’re super guys. We’ve played with them before and they supported us just like we supported them. We’ve played with them for the past six years. This is for the high school students.”

Last year’s winners, the team of Jason Walker, Bill Vaughn, Jay Courcelle and Matt Bourey, finished runner-up this time around. They fell two shots short of a repeat after carding a nine-under par 61.

Dick Dora, Peg Dora, Ethan Sawyer and Carley Sawyer placed third with a 63, and the team of Gary Konkoski, John Tice, Don Yando and Claude Desadrais placed fourth with a 64.

And keeping with tradition, The Baker Girls — Colleen Baker, Cathy Baker, Carol Baker and Barb Martin finished last again.

The tournament also included closest-to-the-pin and long drive contests. Melissa Snickles won the women’s closest-to-the-pin and Jason Walker won the men’s competition. Don Rasco and Carley Sawyer were the respective winners in the long drive contest.

“Jeff Romano approached us and wanted this very much,” Murphy said. “We have a waiting list all the time. We have so many people who want to play each year and can’t get in. I think a lot of the popularity of this is because Larry Stringer was such a great guy, and it’s a great excuse for a party.”

Although Romano didn’t play in the tournament this year, he has competed in the past and said he’s excited to keep the event going.

“We’re willing to keep it going,” said Romano, who plans to move the post-tournament awards and pig roast to his bowling alley, Romano’s Saranac Lanes. “Something like this can’t be lost. It’s played in memory of a great guy, and we’d like to keep the tradition going. It’s a great event. Larry (Pickreign) has done a wonderful job with this tournament, and we don’t want to change a thing. Everything should stay exactly the same with the exception of moving the dinner.”