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BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – It’s Blue Mountain, anything can happen.

It’s the better ball of partners, anything can happen.

It’s golf, anything can happen.

There is something to be said for the element of the unknown. It certainly makes things more intriguing, and it may just be the exact shot-in-the-arm that the Lebanon County Golf Association has been desperately searching for.

On a warm Saturday at the 5,558-yard, par-71 Blue Mountain Golf Course, an element of the unknown and surprise was injected into the opening round of the LCGA’s most popular event – the 28th annual Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners tournament. A pair of relatively unheralded teams came seemingly out of nowhere late to forge a three-way tie for the lead.

The Lebanon Valley Golf Course duo of Dan Mohn and Kerry Schneck and the Fredericksburg father-son tandem of Mike Spangler and Luke Spangler both fired seven-under par scores of 64 to tie Mike Schmidt, Jr.-Pete Parpagene, a more known quantity and the leaders in the clubhouse. One shot off the pace are reigning Lebanon County amatuer champion Justin Arnt and his partner, Skeet Wentling, who posted a six-under 65.

Lurking another stroke back is the team of Jim Gardner-Chris Gebhard, and their opening-round 66. Craig Kliewer collaborated with Greg Seidel on a three-under-par 68.

The event will conclude beginning Sunday morning with the second and final round back at Blue Mountain.

Schmidt and Parpagene teamed to win this same tournament in 2016 at Fairview. Arnt and Wentling captured a Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners title in 2017 at Lebanon Valley.

Gardner has won this event twice previously, with two different partners, the most recently Brian Auman in 2014.

Of all of the leaders, Schmidt and Parpagene’s performance on Saturday was the least surprising.

Thanks to Schmidt’s very rare double eagle on the 470-yard, par-five fourth hole, he and Parpagene were five-under par through six holes. Over their final dozen holes, Schmidt-Parpagene posted three birdies, eight pars and a bogey.

“You have to be lucky and good,” said Schmidt, of his second double-eagle in eight days. “We did all of our damage on the first six holes. Nothing was very exciting after that. We thought about going pretty low. But I’m fine with what happened.”

“It was care-free and fun,” said Parpagene. “He’s fun to play with. It’s a matter of keeping it as steady as you can. We knew who was in the field and we thought we had a good chance. You have to play well to win.”

Luke Spangler, a Northern Lebanon senior-to-be and a 2019 PIAA state qualifier, was competing in the county better-ball with his father Mike for the first time.

The Spanglers were a modest even-par through six holes. But they caught fire in the middle of the front-nine and closed with seven birdies over their last 12 holes.

“The kid was carrying us today,” said Mike Spangler of his son. “The goal coming in was even-par. This was a bit of a surprise. It was good stuff.”

“I probably had higher goals than my dad,” said Luke Spangler. “I knew we had to go low to have a chance.”

For Schneck, Saturday represented the first time he had played Blue Mountain in nearly 30 years. For Mohn, it was his first time ever.

Schneck-Mohn’s jumping-off point came at the par-five fourth and the par-three fifth, where they went eagle-birdie, back-to-back to get their round to four-under par. They also registered three birdies in four holes on the back-nine, at the 413-yard, par-five 13th, the 286-yard, par-four 14th and the 138-yard, par-three 16th.

“We play at Lebanon Valley, and we think it’s similar to this course,” said Mohn. “We were on fire. We were really only in trouble once, and I chipped in on Nine. We weren’t coming here to lose, but we just wanted to play well.”

“I’d make a par, and he’d make a birdie,” said Schneck. “Golf is such a funny game. If it’s out there, we’re going to go for it.”

Arnt and Wentling closed strong, with Wentling’s ten-foot birdie at the par-four 17th and with Arnt’s short birdie at the par-four 18th. Prior to that, they were hovering at three-under par, courtesy of birdies at Numbers One, Six and Ten.

“We have a good partnership,” said Arnt. “He knows my game and I know his game. We know the right things to say to each other. That makes a huge difference. You can have two guys who can shoot 65 on their own balls, but if they doesn’t mesh, it’s not going to work.”

Despite birdying two of their first three holes, Gebhard and Gardner only make the turn at even-par. But they finished their round with a flurry, with birdies on each of their last four holes.

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners

Past Champions

Player NameScoreCourseYear
Dan Brown and Ryan Woefling63-64-127Pine Meadows2019
Mike Potts and Jesse Brown64-69-133Pine Meadows2018
Justin Arnt and Skeet Wentling66-64-130Lebanon Valley2017
Mike Schmidt, Jr and Pete Parpagene63-66-129Fairview2016
Don Johnson and Rick Troutman68-64-132Fairview2015
Brian Auman and Jim Gardner64-69-133Pine Meadows2014
Mike Schmidt Jr. and Ryan WeaberIron Valley2013
Bill Massar Jr. and Dave Berkheimer68-69-137Monroe Valley2012
No tournament due to flooding2011
Steve Allwein and Mike Schmidt64-68-132Royal Oaks2010
Jim Gardner and Brain Auman60-65-125Fairview2009
Tom Kintzer and Greg Behney66-65-131Blue Mountain2008
Stu Hanford and Don Johnson64-67-131Pine Meadows2007
Perry Umlauf and Shawn Cooper66-66-132Royal Oaks2005
Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons62-67-129Pine Meadows2004
Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons66-60-126Fariview2003
Dan Brown and Chad Schulze61-65-126Lebanon Valley2002
Bob Wenrich and John Hacunda70-64-134Monroe Valley2000
John Digiacomo and Blaine Peffley64-67-131Fairview1999
Joe Faller and Phil Faller65-74-139Monroe Valley1998
Jim Gardner and Jim Calhoun68-67-135Fairview1997
Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz70-64-134Fairview1995
Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz65-68-133Fairview1994
Mark Ditzler and Tom Sherk69-68-137Fairview1992
Jeff Pyles and Jeff Behney70-68-138Fairview1991
Rick Troutman and Pete Gebhard70-65-135Fairview1990
Joe Faller and Dave Kurtz66-67-133Fairview1989
Bob Page and Bill Shoop68-65-133Fairview1988

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