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  • File Tom Wood, who will tee off at 12:20 p.m. Sunday in the Senior City Championship, putts on the eighth hole at Coyote Creek.

Saturday, September 08, 2018 1:00 am

City's best seniors face tricky greens

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

If you go

Senior City

Championship

When: Sunday-Monday

Where: Coyote Creek Golf Club

Defending champion: Sam Till Jr.

Tee times: 11:30 a.m.-12:50 p.m.

JG's players to watch

Sam Till Jr.

Steve Vernasco

Mike Riecke

Mark Rietdorf

Robert Itt

There are a few things you need to know about Coyote Creek Golf Club – the site of the Senior City Championship on Sunday and Monday – and the first is that there are, indeed, coyotes out there.

“Sometimes in the morning, really early, you'll see a couple of them roam across the fairway,” said Bill Blumenherst, the club's PGA director of golf, adding that last year there were some pups that had taken a liking to playing with tee markers on the 13th hole.

But long before Coyote Creek was called Coyote Creek, it was known for something much different – it was the place that legendary golfer Arnold Palmer pocketed his first paycheck as a professional. It was 1955 and Palmer earned $145 for placing 25th at the Fort Wayne Open at what was then known as The Elks, a course with history that could be traced to 1929.

“There is a lot of history here,” Blumenherst said.

That includes Steve Vernasco winning the Senior City – run by the Senior Golf Association of Fort Wayne – when it was last played at Coyote Creek in 2016 when he posted a two-day total of 5 under, including a final-round 2-under 70.

Last year's champion, Sam Till Jr., who won for the sixth time, finished at 4 over with a final-round 1-under 70 at Orchard Ridge Country Club.

These are players that know Coyote Creek well – it plays host to a lot of big local tournaments – and are aware that it has a lot of uphill, downhill and dogleg shots and hearkens back to the days when courses had greens with what Blumenherst called a lot of “false fronts.”

“The fronts of the greens, the front 10 percent of the greens or so, they run off really quickly,” Blumenherst said. “So if you don't hit it at least past the first third, (the ball) is going to run back off the greens. So club selection is very important with quite a few of our greens. It can be a little tricky at times.”

For those coming out to watch, take particular note of the par-4 sixth hole.

“You have to hit two really good golf shots,” Blumenherst said. “It's downhill off the tee, and you've got to hit a little baby fade. You've got to place it off the tee short of the creek. And then you have a beautiful shot across the creek and, once again, you have to shoot a very accurate second shot onto that green and then hold it because it does have one of those false fronts.

“It's just a beautiful hole from start to finish.”

For those in the championship flight, the course will be set up to play about 6,200 yards.

“I've always been a believer that when they leave your golf course from a tournament standpoint that they say, 'Wow, that was set up fair and that was fun,'” Blumenherst said.

“Setting up a golf course extremely hard, it's not that hard to do. But then everybody leaves disappointed and upset. You want it to be a nice experience for the players.”

jcohn@jg.net