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Photo by Frank Prager
Senior golfer Bob Bader warms up on the practice putting greens before the start of the weekly scramble at Rock Spring Park Golf Course.
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Photo by Frank Prager
Scramble golfers gather at the clubhouse before the weekly Wednesday morning round begins.
ALTON — Rain clouds loom over the links on an overcast morning, but you would never know it by the energy level in the clubhouse at the Rock Spring Golf Course.
Approximately 40 seniors gather for the weekly golf scramble, laughing and conversing in preparation for getting out on the course like it was the sunniest day of the year.
Bill Diddlebock, recreation manager for the Alton Parks and Recreation Department, said people usually show up to play regardless of the weather.
“The scramble starts every Wednesday at 9 a.m. and runs weekly through the end of September,” he said.
The event is open to anyone 50 or older.
The four-man scramble slots players of varying ability on each team every week. Golfers on a team tee off together but play from the location of the best shot by their team members on every stroke of the hole. The scramble format lets everyone enjoy the game regardless of skill level and also makes for fast play.
“The 9-hole game usually lasts about an hour and 45 minutes,” Diddlebock said.
A “shotgun” start allows everyone to begin at the same time with teams starting at different tees along the course. Tees are distanced from each hole according to age. White tees are for golfers younger than 65, yellow tees for players 65 to 74 and red tees for anyone 75 and older. The weekly fee for the scramble event is $12 per individual plus $5 for skins and team place awards. A “skin” is won by a player who posts the lowest score on a hole among all players in the game.
The Alton Parks and Recreation Department and the course management are always looking to add new players to the event.
“We’d love to have anyone who wants to play come out,” Diddlebock said.
Jim Mormino started playing the scramble just last year after retiring. Longtime well-known area golfer Rudy Scroggins has been playing the event for 22 years.
The well-kept, tree-lined fairways roll across hills and among woods in a rustic, peaceful setting. Rick Springman, the course’s general manager, talks about the course’s benefits.
“We have new greens that are superb,” he said. “The condition of the course is getting better every year. It looks great.”
The course is also home to the longest-running medal play tournament in the St. Louis area, the Alton Gold Medal Tourney. The annual event draws golfers throughout the area.
“Many a good golfer has won that tournament,” Springman said.
In addition to weekly winners, cumulative scoring is kept throughout the year, with first- through third-place winners announced at the end of the season.
Diddlebock encourages anyone interested in playing to come out to the Rock Spring clubhouse Wednesday mornings about 15 minutes before the 9 a.m. tee time. More information is available by calling the event hotline at (618) 325-0035 or the Alton Parks and Recreation District at (618) 463-3580.