Sunday might not have been perfect weather for golf.

But golfers in Eastern Oregon are apparently a hardy breed who don’t need sunshine and 70s. Rather, all they need is an excuse to play — and Sunday’s annual benefit tournament for the Umatilla Fire and Hermiston Police departments at Big River Golf Course was enough to coax more than 50 area golfers onto the links.

  “Cabin fever,” said Lucas Pruneda, who made the trip to the Umatilla course from Sunnyside. “We had a bunch of snow in Sunnyside yesterday and with this nice weather here today ... I couldn’t pass it up.”

Sunday’s weather was by no means balmy. But after Saturday’s rain, the sun did attempt to peek through the clouds at times, and by the time the golfers teed off at noon, the temperature had crept above the 40-degree mark.

In these parts, that’s evidently more than enough for a good day of golf.

“This is a great program,” said Hermiston’s Don Obrist. “I support it every year. This is perfect weather for this time of year.”

Megan Olsen, Big River general manager, said the Sunday’s donations totaled nearly $500 in cash, along with hundreds of stuffed animals and toys and several large crates of canned goods. Hermiston resident Polly Van de Brake made approximately 100 stuffed animals for the event.

 “This was our biggest Christmas event yet and the largest amount of donations we’ve received,” Olsen said. “We’re really excited about the way it turned out.”

The Umatilla Fire Dept. uses the donations to help support its food basket program and its Christmas Eve candy bag delivery. This year, the department expects to deliver more than 50 food baskets to families during the holidays.

Hermiston resident Dick Lowry, the former Hermiston High School golf coach, said the recent weather hasn’t been conducive to playing as often as he’d like. But he wasn’t going to miss Sunday’s event, no matter what the weather produced.

“These are good people doing good things,” Lowry said. “I’ve been doing this a lot of years and I’m going to keep doing it. I’ll support them every chance I get.”


1. (Net Score 23.6) James Harvey, Todd Rohde, Ron Gray, Kelly Dropps; 2. (23.8) Ron Bunch, Linda Bunch, Jake Allen, Pat Kelley; 3. (24.1) Greg Cortaberria, Tim Schwartz, Brian Hight, Mike Giordano; 4. (25.2) Ray Morgan, Arlen Adams, Gunner Olsen, Sergio Rodriguez; 5. (25.5) Don Daggett, Danny Stahl, James Stahl, Ken Wilson; 6. (25.7) Mike Engelbrecht, Aitor Irusta, Andy Schlupe Sr, Harry Heath

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