Lilac Invitational golf turns 50 at Fairways
Long-running Pro-Am golf tournament takes place July 11-14
How do you top a two-hole sudden death finish when the Lilac City Invitational returned last year to the Fairways Golf Course for its 49th edition?
It will be tough but just the fact that it turns 50 might be enough for an event like this. The Golden Anniversary edition four-day, 72-hole pro-am tournament runs July 11-14 and will benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children—Spokane.
“Bringing back the Lilac last year and partnering the tournament with our annual donation to the Shriners Hospitals for Children-Spokane was a tremendous success” Fairways general manager and PGA professional Kris Kallem said. “Joe Durgan started something very special all those years ago and we’re proud to be a part of the tradition and see the Lilac turn 50.”
The 2012 Lilac was indeed memorable as Spokane native and Washington State University golfer Hank Frame shot a 14 under par four-round total of 274 through regulation. He sunk a 15-foot putt from the fringe of the green and then watched Clarkston professional Mike Roters miss an 8-footer to decide it.
Frame became the third amateur to win the Lilac, which was reinstated for the first time since 2006. Other amateur winners have included Pat Welch in 1968 and Gary Floan, a two-time winner in 1971 and 1975.
“The Lilac is widely recognized as one of the premier competitive regional golf events for professionals and amateurs in the Pacific Northwest,” Kallem said in a news release.
The list of competitors who have played in the event include current and former PGA Tour professionals Kirk Triplett, Don Bies, Rod Funseth, Pat Fitzsimmons and Troy Kelly. Local favorites who have won the Lilac include Indian Canyon head professional Gary Lindeblad, six-time Lilac champion Chris Mitchell, Deer Park head professional Craig Schuh, and amateur Gary Floan.
The Lilac has provided some stunning displays of golf over the years with many of the winning scores exceeding 20 under par. The single round scoring record belongs to Triplett who opened the 1989 tournament with a 61. The overall four-round scoring record is held by professional Mark Worthington who finished at a blistering 28 under par in 2002 on his way to back-to-back titles.
The Lilac is one of the very few if not only remaining 72-hole golf tournaments in the country outside of the major professional tours creating a unique opportunity to compete over the course of four days.
The Lilac City Invitational was founded by PGA professional Joe Durgan in 1960. The tournament was held at Downriver Golf Course for the first 27 years before moving to the Fairways in 1987 when the Durgan family took over management of the new course. The Lilac has called the Fairways home ever since, other than a brief period in the mid 1990s, where it was shared between the Fairways and Downriver.
Spectators are welcome all four days of the event including the popular long drive competition on Friday. Admission is free.
Volunteers are always needed. Those interested in donating their time can call the pro shop at 747-8418 for details.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.