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12 years ago
After First Round, Its Anyones Lebanon County Better-Ball


LICKDALE – It may be the least prestigious of the local amateur golf’s ‘majors’. But it also might be the most competitive and the most hotly-contested.

Parity earned the first-round lead Saturday at the 24th annual Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners tournament, at Monroe Valley Golf Course’s par-72, 6,455-yard layout. The fact that seven teams are within two shots of the lead just reinforced the old golf adage that ‘two-day tournaments aren’t won on the first day, but they can be lost then’.

Setting the precarious pace are the teams of Greg Behney-Tom Kintzer and Darren Lutz-Jesse Brown, who matched each other with first-day five-under-par 67s. Those two teams will carry a one-shot lead over defending champs Steve Allwein-Mike Schmidt, Jr. and Brady Demey-Justin Arnt into Sunday’s final 18 holes.

Another stroke back, after shooting three-under 69s on Saturday, are Bill Massar, Jr.-Dave Berkheimer, Ron Heisey-Dave Snader and Nate Wentling-Travis Leonard.

“It shows you there’s a lot of good golfers in Lebanon County,” said Behney. “And that you’ve got to play well both days to win. You can’t give anything away to these guys. And there’s a lot of good golfers not even playing in this tournament.

“Next to the Sullivan, this is my favorite event,” Behney continued. “And I love playing with Tom Kintzer. I only started playing golf in my 20s and he’s the guy who helped me along. When I met him, I was a hack.”

“Of the events I play in, I would put this towards the top,” said Lutz. “Any local amateur event is going to have some prestige. There’s pride involved here.

“Well, to be honest, we’re not in  it for the money,” continued Lutz. “It’s a prestige tournament. It’s for bragging rights and claiming the prize at the end.”

Lutz and Brown played their own form of ‘long ball’ to ravage Monroe Valley’s par-fives. Of their six birdies on the day, four of them were yielded by the par-fives.

“I think Jesse probably had a better day than I did,” said Lutz. “He had two more birdies than me. He played pretty stellar today. He has no fear. It doesn’t matter if he hits it  in the fairway or hits it under a tree, he’s making par. We killed the par-fives. We birdied every one.

“Our games sort of match,” added Lutz. “We’re care-free. We don’t lay up. We just go for it. This is our fifth or sixth year of playing together in this. We came close a couple of times, but never put it together on Sunday. We haven’t put ourselves in a position like this before. This is new for us.”

Brown and Lutz were a modest one-over par through five holes, before back-to-back-to-back birdies at numbers six, seven and eight got them going. On the back nine, they registered birds at the par-five 11th and at  the par-four 15th.

“At number 18, we felt like one more birdie would get us where we want to be,” said Lutz. “And Jesse made an eight-footer. It kind of defined the round. I think we’ll have to go a little lower tomorrow. There’s a lot of good teams here who struggled today. I think tomorrow is going to be a fun day. This is local. This is what we do. It should be a pretty relaxing day.

“This is a longer course,” Lutz added. “Tomorrow it’s going to be even longer. But you really need to hit your irons here. You can hit anything from a wedge to a five-iron.”

While Kintzer was in charge of making pars for his team, Behney took care of the birdies. Behney sank a total of five birdie putts, many of which were of the shorter variety.

“We didn’t make any bogeys,” said Behney. “I had five birdies and Tom had some crucial par saves.

“I played pretty good actually,” added Behney. “It was a good solid round. But it does take two. I don’t want to make it sound singular. He made some great shots to make par.”

Behney and Kintzer’s first birdie was a tap-in at the par-five sixth hole, after Behney lipped out an eagle attempt. Behney birdied the par-four tenth, before he and Kintzer notched birds on three of the last four finishing holes.

“We won the county better-ball championship a couple of years ago,” said Kintzer. “But you always want to get a second championship to validate it. We came in expecting to validate it. Our goal tomorrow is to shoot three-under on each side, and get a 66.”

Save for a rough stretch from holes eight through ten, Allwein and Schmidt played some outstanding golf. Bogeys at those three holes were offset by seven birdies. The two recorded pars on only eight holes.

“Stevie played well,” said Schmidt. “And I watched.”

Following a couple of earlier hiccups, Demey and Arnt finished with a flurry. They were just a modest one-under par, before birdies at the par-four 15th, the par-four 16th and the par-five 18th got them to four-under.

Both Wentling-Leonard and Massar, Jr.-Berkheimer were even-par at the turn, then played the back-nine at three-under par clips. Heisey and Snader were one  up on  par over their first nine holes, and two better than it during their second nine.



Lebanon County Better Ball Champions

Player Name Score Course Year
No tournament due to flooding 2011
Steve Allwein and Mike Schmidt 64-68-132 Royal Oaks 2010
Jim Gardner and Brain Auman 60-65-125 Fairview 2009
Tom Kintzer and Greg Behney 66-65-131 Blue Mountain 2008
Stu Hanford and Don Johnson 64-67-131 Pine Meadows 2007
Perry Umlauf and Shawn Cooper 66-66-132 Royal Oaks 2005
Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons 62-67-129 Pine Meadows 2004
Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons 66-60-126 Fariview 2003
Dan Brown and Chad Schulze 61-65-126 Lebanon Valley 2002
Bob Wenrich and John Hacunda 70-64-134 Monroe Valley 2000
John Digiacomo and Blaine Peffley 64-67-131 Fairview 1999
Joe Faller and Phil Faller 65-74-139 Monroe Valley 1998
Jim Gardner and Jim Calhoun 68-67-135 Fairview 1997
Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz 70-64-134 Fairview 1995
Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz 65-68-133 Fairview 1994
Mark Ditzler and Tom Sherk 69-68-137 Fairview 1992
Jeff Pyles and Jeff Behney 70-68-138 Fairview 1991
Rick Troutman and Pete Gebhard 70-65-135 Fairview 1990
Joe Faller and Dave Kurtz 66-67-133 Fairview 1989
Bob Page and Bill Shoop 68-65-133 Fairview 1988







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