Not only is Will Johnson “pretty good” for 13 years old, according to his father Buck Johnson, he might be better than any of his teammates on the Bulluck Communications foursome that won its fourth consecutive Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament on Friday.
The Bulluck squad of Will, Buck, Cory Morris, and Coby Jones fired a 16-under par in the captain’s choice event, hosted this year by Tanglewood Shores Golf and Country Club in Bracey. Their score included 14 birdies, three pars and an eagle.
Will, the top seed as an eighth-grader on his Kenston Forest high school team in Blackstone, Va., helped lead the way.
“Everyone contributed,” Buck said. “In a four-man, you need all four people. (Will) is definitely one where you’re like, ‘Come on. Get us a shot here. Get us on the green. Make this putt.’ It was definitely a team effort though.”
According to Buck, this exact foursome has won the tournament title three years running while a different group under the Bulluck name won it four years ago.
Bulluck is a Little River, S.C.-based telecommunications company owned by Ken Bullock, the husband of Buck’s mother Nancy.
For the Johnsons, playing in the annual Chamber tournament is more about the family time on the golf course than winning, though. Until it gets to crunch time, anyway.
“I just like playing in (the tournament) because I get to play with my son,” Buck said, “and Mom sponsors it so she really enjoys watching him play, her grandson, not so much me play, but him... Anytime I can play with him, it’s a good time. That’s what I enjoy most.”
For other Chamber tournament regulars like Trip Blackburn, the event represents camaraderie and fellowship among the participants as well as a chance to support the Chamber and local businesses.
Blackburn said, “The atmosphere of the Chamber tournaments can be described in three words: enjoyable, comfortable and well-executed.”
Blackburn lives primarily on the Space Coast in Florida but spends five months of the year at Sandy Trace on Lake Gaston, and has one of the more interesting job titles you’ll ever come across. He’s a senior international consultant who assists NATO in writing and negotiating missile treaties.
Blackburn, representing Tanglewood’s team, won the Closest to the Pin title on No. 6, firing a three-hybrid club downhill.
“Moreover, these golf tournaments are an extension of the goodwill the Chamber promotes throughout the year,” Blackburn said. “The tournament offers local vendors an opportunity to promote their businesses and network with other owners.
"The tournament this year was a success in spite of some last-minute obstacles the Chamber encountered. I think the Chamber, particularly Leanne (Patrick) and Mary Lou (Kellogg), did a great job in planning and executing the tournament.”
Friday’s event marked the first Chamber tournament for Patrick, who took over officially as Chamber President/CEO in August.
Patrick, Blackburn and Tanglewood President Linda Adamos each praised Zachary Vinson for his work on the course. Vinson oversaw the health of the course prior to his new role as operations manager of the entire Tanglewood neighborhood.
“It was such a pleasure working with Tanglewood Shores Golf and Country Club in Bracey,” Patrick said. “Not only do they have a beautiful course and facilities, but Zach Vinson, Linda Adamos and staff were so helpful and accommodating. Their assistance from start to finish was invaluable.”
Lake Gaston Pizza supplied the sub sandwiches for lunch and Southern Smokin’ BBQ of Skippers, VA. the dinner. B&J’s Cash and Carry of Roanoke Rapids provided chips and snacks for golfers, staff and volunteers throughout the day.
“The success of this year's golf tournament is credited to the village of people and businesses who worked together so diligently,” Patrick said. “Staff, members of the Board of Directors, and many volunteers dedicated their time to ensure the day ran smoothly. We appreciate the continued support from our Platinum, Gold and Silver members, as well as the dozens of hole sponsors whose signs were displayed throughout the course.
“Many local businesses donated door prizes that included gift certificates, gift baskets, and more. Michael Powell of Day to Night Window Tinting sponsored the Hole-in-One prize: a golf cart provided by Gasburg Golf Cars of Gasburg. Although no one won the golf cart, the cart sitting on hole 6 sure added to the excitement of the day.”
Patrick added the Chamber was overwhelmingly humbled by the support of the Lake Gaston region and it looks forward to continuing to match that support.
Tanglewood got a chance to showcase both its course and its residential community that features lake access, a pool and associate membership for the course, according to Adamos, who moved to the community in 2015.
“We’ve hosted some other outside tournaments since I have been here,” Adamos said, “but this is the first time I think we have hosted the Chamber tournament and we would love to have them back.”
Regardless of the venue for the next tournament, Nancy Johnson might not let Buck and Will get away with skipping it.
They have a title to defend.
“We’ve got to play in that one,” Buck said, “if we don’t play in any other one.”
- Bulluck Communications, First Place (Buck Johnson, Will Johnson, Cory Morris, Coby Jones)
- Halifax Electric Membership Corporation, Second Place (M.C. Little, Alvin Salmon, Tony Johnson, Sammy Dickens)
- Pointe Realty, Third Place (Danny Wilkerson, Billy Davidson, Bobby Jackson, Wade Schuster)
- Susan Bersch Team – First Place (Brian Wright, Winston Bersch, Bill Behan, Dean Glover)
- Virginia Carolina Appraisal – Mickey Smith, Second Place (Michael Farnsworth, Roger Pendergrass, Gary Smith, Brian Kurdziolek)
- Virginia Carolina Appraisal – Glenn Barbour, Third Place (Glenn Barbour, Lloyd Farnsworth, Randy Crocker, Tom Waters)
Longest Drive: Ladies’ Tees - Allie McLamb – Lake Gaston Gazette Observer Team
Longest Drive: Seniors’ Tees – Joe Collins – Edward Jones Team
Longest Drive: Men’s Tees – Will Johnson – Bulluck Communications Team
Closest to the Pin: Par 3 number 6 – Trip Blackburn – Tanglewood Team
Closest to the Pin: Par 3 number 3 – Bill Behan – Susan Bersch’s Team