MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Thirty colleges from around the eastern United States gathered at the Paradise Point Golf Course from March 25 to 28, for the Marine Federal Credit Union 39th Intercollegiate Golf Championship.
Along with the colleges, there were two golf teams from Camp Lejeune who competed for the top prize. Colleges ranged from Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Fla. to Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C.
On the first day of the tournament college students were paired with Marines and went out for a few rounds of golf. Golfers and service members alike took that time to get to know each other and build relationships.
Jerry Bunting, a retired Marine captain said he has played in every tournament since 1987 except for two, because of a death in his family and surgery.
Bunting said, each tournament has been thoroughly enjoyed and they have given him the opportunity to meet many exceptional young men.
The second day consisted of the first round of intercollegiate tee times.
The third day saw the beginning of the second round of tee times as well as cocktails and a banquet in the evening.
The first three days went off without a hitch, said Grant Beck, retired sergeant major and the assistant manager for the Paradise Point Golf Course. Sunday was a different story.
Sunday, the last day of the tournament was the final round and nature decided to toy with the golfers by adding wind gusts. Even with the teams put forth their best effort in an attempt to snag the first place prize.
Methodist University came back this year to defend their title, which they have won eight times, three of the wins being consecutive. This year, once again, they came out on top to go home with the first place prize, a mounted noncommissioned officer’s sword.
Along with the sword, Methodist went away with the bragging rights of winning the East Coast’s second biggest golf tournament. The golf team walked away with a total score of 849 from 856, seven under par.
“It feels good to win,” said Steve Conley, Methodist University’s golf coach. “We beat some good teams, to come first in a tournament this big you had to play well.”
Second place went to the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga. with a total score of 856, an even par. The third place prize was given to Oglethorpe University in Atlanta and walked away with an end score of 868, 12 over par.
However, the golf tournament is not just a competition.
“In the early ‘70s the mood of the people was not really pro-military,” said Beck. “We invited seven or eight college teams to the golf course to give them a chance to interact. The students got to interact with Marines and their perspectives of them changed.”
Today, after more than 35 years, the tournament’s goals still have not changed, added Beck.
“It’s great to be out here with Marines who appreciate the simpler things in life,” said Scott Pugh, a golfer with Oglethorpe University.
The golfers, however, were not the only ones who interacted with Marines.
“We came here to interact and embrace the program,” said Jim Owen, coach for Oglethorpe University. “We have played with the same Marines for many years.”
Students and retired Marines alike left the tournament knowing a little more about each other. Along with that some walked away with prizes while others started planning for next year’s tournament.