The Winnipeg Blue Bombers can only hope their season ends the same way their golf tournament did — with smiles on everyone’s faces.
When lightning lit up the sky Monday morning, the Bombers were already looking into making alternative plans. But the rain subsided and the annual fundraising tourney held at the Glendale Golf and Country Club teed off as planned. But, about midway, the skies opened up again, drenching all and sundry.
But just about everyone — including 38 Bomber players — braved the inclement weather until it cleared up, then settled in for dinner together afterwards.
The Bomber season started much the same way. Lightning struck when the Toronto Argonauts upset them at home. Things started to clear up, then it rained on their parade for the last four games, and they will return to the gridiron in last place in the CFL East with a 2-6 record. Now, they make the turn, hoping for brighter skies on the horizon.
“Yeah, remind me we have to go back to work,” Bomber centre Obby Khan chastised. “We’ve got to go back to work (Tuesday) and we’ll try to forget that until later (Monday night). Our bye week is over and now, we’ll put together a nice little win streak for the fans here.”
Khan spent the day golfing with and kibitzing with his group, and enjoying the fact that one of his playing partners looked like he might win the closest-to-the-hole prize.
“Mine was about three feet away so unfortunately, we had to use (his) shot,” Khan said. “So, I’ll give him a chance to shine.”
A total of 36 foursomes paid for the privilege of playing with the Bombers, or at least rubbing shoulders with those still hobbled by injury.
“We’re having a great day, a great day,” Khan said. “A lot of mosquitoes, cold ice cream bars, tornado potatoes, mini-doughnuts, potato chips … It’s tons of fun. It shows the sponsors how much we appreciate their support and it’s a fun day of golf. We put business aside and go out and have lots of fun.”
Make that lots of wet fun. A number of Bombers were soaked but kept playing. When Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice was told they could get sick, he responded, “Don’t say that, we’ve got enough guys injured already.”
LaPolice did not swing a club but took up a post at the first hole to rub shoulders and carry on friendly conversations with some of the club’s most loyal supporters, and he remained there pretty much throughout the rain.
There were some laughable shots and some great ones but, even in the rain, much laughter was heard.
“It’s been a good day,” said Bomber president Jim Bell. “The weather provided a challenge or two in the middle of the day. But, driving around and talking some of the participants, it seems like they’re having a great time. We had 36 foursomes so we had 144 players, plus people at various holes — plus (Bomber) players with each foursome. So, all together, with volunteers and staff, it’s very well-attended.”
And it was sold out yet again. Bell figures the non-profit club will make a $60,000-$65,000 on the tourney.
“This and our annual Legacy Dinner are our two biggest events during the course of the season,” Bell said. “It certainly is a significant part of our fundraising for our football club.”
Bell, however, did not golf himself. “I hit a few balls on the practice range but I was getting out and watching the players and the sponsors have a good time,” he said. “And some of those guys can really hit it, I’ll say that.”
The Bombers return to the practice field on Tuesday to prepare to face the Roughriders in the annual Labour Day Classic in Regina on Sunday.
NOTE: Unconfirmed rumours suggest that Blue Bombers quarterback Steven Jyles is still being bothered by a rib problem. Jyles was with a group at the Bomber golf tournament Monday but did not swing a club, just putted. However, the Bombers are hoping that QB Buck Pierce will be healthy enough to play against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina on Sunday.