Bullock tourney brings back alumni

The winners of Saturday’s Bruce Bullock Memorial-Redskin Alumni tournament from the left are Michael Phelan, Sean Phelan, Craig Leahy and Pat McHugh. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC INN — High school reunions happen all the time. There’s been a really popular one held on the Saranac Inn Golf Club each June, and on Saturday, it was held for the 12th straight summer as the Bruce Bullock Memorial-Redskin Alumni Tournament on the beautiful 18-hole, par 72 course.

The tournament was started by Saranac Lake graduates Seth Shatraw and Josh Dann, who originally just wanted to gather a group of old high school buddies together for a fun day of golf. Since that time, the tournament has evolved into an immensely popular event that’s raised thousands of dollars for Saranac Lake athletics. Each year, a good chunk of the participants include former standout athletes at the school, as well as former and current coaches and teachers. And usually, a handful or more friends from Tupper Lake and Lake Placid join in the fun.

Thirty-five teams took part in the four-person scramble on a sunny, warm but windy Saturday.

Sean Phelan, his son Michael, Pat McHugh and Craig Leahy teamed up to take the victory, firing an 11-under par 61 to edge the next two closest foursomes, who tied for runner-up one stoke back with 62s.

Sean Phelan, who has been on the winning team in the past, credited his three younger playing partners with the team’s success.

Jim Herd of Vermontville rips into a drive on the 13th hole at Saranac Inn during Saturday’s Bullock Memorial tournament. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

“It was the young guys hitting the ball. Mike, Pat, Craig, they all played great,” Sean Phelan said. “Everyone just chipped in. It was fun watching the kids play golf. It was tough out there. This tournament always brings in some really good players. It’s not easy winning this. Today the wind really made it tough.”

Phelan said his foursome in the tournament normally includes another Saranac Lake resident, Kurt Sturgeon, but he was unavailable and Leahy was asked to join the team earlier this month. Phelan joked that Sturgeon might not have a spot on the team next summer.

“”He’s going to have to claw his way back on because Craig really played well,” Phelan quipped.

“We’ve won it before. It’s the biggest tournament we have around this area or this town,” he added. “It’s just fun and we look forward to it every year. We gear up for it. We go to the range, make sure we’re swinging good and come out here and try to play the best we can. I’ll be looking forward to it again. Hopefully when the kids get older and if we don’t go our separate ways, it’s something we can come back and do for years.”

“I was very lucky to be a part of the team,” said Leahy, who played in the Bullock for the first time. “Two or three weeks ago I got the call from Mike; very excited. I know their reputation in this tournament and I was happy to be a part of it. We stuck to a strict order, kept our composure, made great second shots and made some putts. The course was absolutely beautiful.”

Phil Leonodis, Todd Lindsay, Tim Smart and Sarge Eldridge comprised one of the teams firing a 62 and the other foursome included Rick Skiff, Paul Pickering, Jeremy Nugent and Evan LaBarge.

The team of Steve and Tom Niederbuhl, Cody Ecret and Derek Strack placed fourth with a 64.

Shatraw, who along with Dann played football for Saranac Lake under coach Bullock, said the first tournament was played at Craig Wood and since then, it’s found a home at Saranac Inn while becoming a fundraiser for the Bullock Athletic Fund.

“It supports extra budgetary expenses that the athletic department sees,” Shatraw explained. “It goes to bus rides, scoreboards, hockey pads, equipment for football, cross country equipment, jerseys; everything across the board for all sports. We let every coach in the district know that these funds are available. You need the funds, you request it, and we give it to them.”

Seth’s wife, Sara Bullock Shatraw, is Bruce Bullock’s daughter who helps organize the tournament each year and also plays in the event.

“This means a whole lot to me,” she said. “Seth and Josh came to me 12 or so years ago and said they wanted to start this. I was really flattered and honored on behalf of my family. It’s been a whole lot of fun just watching this grow over the years.

“Between Josh and my husband, they really just wanted to get something going to bring some old teammates, old classmates back together and they wanted to make it an alumni event. They thought ‘Who not better to have it in honor of than their former coach, PE teacher, health teacher. It kind of came together. Back then, when we crossed those years, we all got to have that great community feel with some great men.”