|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Tornado's Klabunde steps down, then makes hole-in-one

  • Two rare occurrences in golf converged on Wednesday.
    • email print
      Comment
  • Two rare occurrences in golf converged on Wednesday.
    Asked what that might be called, Kevin Klabunde offered: "Serendipity."
    Perfect.
    The things that happened were, Klabunde removed himself from the North Medford High boys golf program — after 22 years, he was no longer the head coach — then, several hours later, he made a hole-in-one at Rogue Valley Country Club.
    Klabunde delivered a written letter of resignation to Black Tornado athletic director Tim Sam, then headed to the home course for both him and the team he coached.
    On the 13th hole, his 6-iron shot hit about 10 feet in front of the hole and rolled in.
    "Anyone who gets a hole-in-one is so darned lucky," said Klabunde, adding that this one was a pretty good shot.
    His comment reminded me of a poster on Facebook: "Man blames fate for other accidents but feels personally responsible for a hole-in-one."
    Klabunde's first ace, for instance, in 1982, was on the ninth hole at Cedar Links. It hit 3 feet up the flagstick and dropped straight down.
    "I've hit a lot better shots that should have gone in that haven't," he said.
    He has three holes-in-one. The other was 30 years after his first, in 2012 at the Oregon Golf Association course in Woodburn.
    The one Wednesday was a little different. Klabunde was on the phone with his wife, Penny, and two of his playing partners, Dan Leary and Curtis Wagoner, drove to the green.
    "I said, 'Honey, I've got to go,'" said Klabunde, "then hit the shot."
    He couldn't tell if it went in. Then Leary and Wagoner shouted back that it had. Klabunde got a high-five from his other partner, Tony Nieto, then called his wife back.
    Honey, guess what.
    It's not likely the ace was more significant than his resignation earlier in the day.
    There's quite a time commitment to coaching, no matter the sport, and after more than two decades, it's not casually brushed aside.
    "I've had so many great memories from coaching," said Klabunde, "and been involved in the lives of so many good kids. It was hard to step down. To everything there is a season. I just felt like it was time to let somebody else take the reins and get some new blood in the program and generate some excitement for North Medford golf again."
    A particular highlight during his tenure was the 2004 squad that placed third at state. The players were Mike Barry, the late Adam Browne, Dave Mayer, Chris Oetinger and Mark Wilson.
    "That was really a lot of fun," said Klabunde.
    After the first round that year, the players held a putting contest in their hotel: one hole, par 22, tee off on the third floor and finish on the first in the lobby. The "hole" was the front left leg of a chair by the peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich station. Mayer tapped in for a winning score of 7 under par.
    That's the kind of thing Klabunde cherished.
    "I'd tell the kids every year," he said, "it's great to make it to the state tournament as an individual, but it's much more meaningful to make it as a team."
    Barry offered a highlight a year later, becoming Medford's first state champion in 23 years.
    A lowlight would have been that Klabunde never won a conference title. The closest one of his teams came was that '04 unit. After seven conference matches, it lost out on the district title by one stroke to Roseburg. It then beat the Indians by one shot over two rounds at state, meaning the teams were dead even through nine rounds that season.
    "I've used that as an example of how important each shot is," said Klabunde.
    He will remain involved in the program to a degree. Each year, the team plays a tournament at Black Butte, staying at Klabunde's mother-in-law's house. He's also on the committee of a tournament that raises money for the North Medford, South Medford and St. Mary's programs. The two-partner event is June 21-22 and those interested in playing should call 541-772-4050.
    "It's been great to be involved in kids' lives," said Klabunde, "and I'd like to think I've been a positive influence on them. We've had some great kids come through the program."
    Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com
Reader Reaction

      calendar