Passing of the torch - Pine to Palm Golf Tournament
For the last decade, summers for Bob Gorden were as busy as any time of the year.
First, Gorden has built such a storied high school boys’ golf program power, that the Lakers have extended their season to mid-June, as they played their way to the state meet and a couple Class 2A championships.
After that, it was time for Gorden and his wife, Diane, to get elbow deep in Pine to Palm registrations as acting tournament chairman, a position he has held since 2003 — until this year.
After 10 years as the Pine to Palm chairman, Gorden has passed that torch to fellow committee member Jim Bruflodt.
“It was a fast 10 years, that’s for sure,” Gorden said. “But during that time, golf really consumed Diane’s and my life. I just love the game of golf and our course (the Detroit Country Club), it’s been very important to me.”
After taking over for Gordy Grabow as chairman in 2003, Gorden certainly has made his imprint on the 81-year-old golf tournament.
The most noticeable mark he will have left is seen when the golfers turn on their computers.
Online registration is now responsible for up to 80-90 percent of registrations, which has taken the onus of paperwork almost right out of the equation.
“Online registration speeds up the process,” Gorden said. “We no longer have to stuff envelopes and run checks to the bank. It’s not as taxing now.”
Other big changes came with the addition of the Mid-Am and Super Seniors divisions.
The Mid-Am came first and has enjoyed progressive growth in its four years of existence, as has the Super Seniors.
“I thought it was a good move for the tournament,” Gorden said. “Giving those players their own tournament where they can play golfers their own age has worked out well.
“The Mid-Am is a good transition from playing Championship to Seniors (55 and older).”
With the 32 divisions, including name and numbered flights, the field for the Pine to Palm has consistently topped the 400-plus mark through Gorden’s tenure.
That, of course, makes for some serious work of getting everyone their tee times and having them all finish their rounds each day.
Obviously, it’s not a one-man show.
“The people on the committee have just been fabulous and each and every one does their job,” Gorden said. “The biggest thing we do is we always worry about the golfers.”
Both the Gordens have taken over the awards portion of the tournament, and Bob wants to become more involved in rulings.
Recalling some of his most memorable moments during his 10-year tenure, Gorden listed off Chris Braaten winning the title in 2004 and thus becoming the first DL native to do so.
The range of golfers has also been evident, with Todd Hillier becoming the oldest Pine to Palm champion in 2010 and immediately followed by the youngest golfer to win the championship the next year in Connor Holland.
“I’m still waiting for one of my former high school golfers to win it, though,” Gorden added.
Time will tell on that one, but one can be assured Gorden will be around as a committee member when it does happen.
Bruflodt first 2nd generation P-to-P chairman
The first job Jim Bru-flodt ever had during the Pine to Palm Tournament was picking up litter and paper as a kid.
The first championship match he witnessed came in 1962 when Bob Finseth topped Pat Shansesy 3 and 2.
His biggest influence for the tournament was his father Paul Bruflodt, who was tournament chairman from 1968-1973.
“One thing I remember was that all the golfers were characters and mostly just weekend golfers,” Jim Bruflodt said. “Times have changed.”
When Bruflodt was asked to be on the committee by then chairman Leo Eilertson as one of the head rangers, that’s when he realized how important the committee really was.
“They are all good at their jobs,” Bruflodt said. “Now as the chairman, I will rely on the committee. There isn’t enough time in one day for one person to run the entire tournament.”
The days of when everything was done by hand are becoming more rare, as technology is taking over.
“The thing about nowadays is people want an answer right away,” Bruflodt said. “Now, there are more demands and they can be answered quickly.”
Bruflodt is more than experienced and confident in taking over the chairman position from Gorden.
“The biggest thing I learned from Bob is to think on your feet,” Bruflodt said. “I do have a good management background and learned how rather than overreact, react.”
Being a second-generation chairman is also a privilege for Bruflodt.
“I’m proud of the fact that I’m the first father/son chairman,” Bruflodt said.
“There never was any set goals to carry on the legacy of my father; I just wanted to be a part of this tournament.”
Challenges which Bru-flodt has already hit include the green damage which occurred during the winter and completing last-minute registrations.
“The committee purchased a new seeder for the greens and that should be a big improvement,” the new chairman said. “As chairman, I need to keep everything running and I have the committee to help me to do that. I hope when everything is said and done, that my dad will be proud of me for the job I’ve done.”
The Pine to Palm Golf Tournament kicks off Monday, Aug. 5, at the DCC.