Oak Crest set for 92nd UPLGA championship

An undated aerial view of Oak Crest Golf Course in Norway. Oak Crest hosts the 92nd annual UP Ladies Golf Association Championships starting Saturday and running through Tuesday. (The Daily News, File)

NORWAY — Oak Crest Golf Course rolls out the red carpet Saturday for the 92nd annual UP Ladies Golf Association Championship.

Tournament director Kevin Londo said he hopes the ladies enjoy their stay regardless of tournament results.

“It should be fun,” said Londo, director of golf and operations at Oak Crest. “They have a lot of activities planned with a ‘Swinging Through The Decades’ theme. The girls are really involved in the social aspect of it, too, with a skit planned for one day.”

The field of 57 will tee off at 9 a.m. Saturday with the qualifying round, where the top 16 after medal play will comprise championship flight. The following three days will be match play with titles decided in championship flight and five other divisions.

Oak Crest’s UP Committee had a goal for a tournament field of 80. Nobody has an explanation for the lower-than-expected turnout but that won’t diminish Oak Crest’s enthusiasm.

“Numbers are down but the ladies that are playing will have a good time,” Londo said. “We want to make it as easy as possible for the ladies. It should be a great tournament.”

Londo has lined up a number of different volunteers to serve as starters, spotters on the holes, scorekeepers and cart attendants.

“The hardest thing is the cart situation,” Londo said of the transportation logistics. “But it will work out just fine.”

Oak Crest hosted the 2016 UP Golf Association senior men’s championship, a tournament marred by pin placements that enraged some golfers.

That situation was solved, Londo said, teaming with Dale Ward Sr. and others to provide the proper pin placements. That same strategy will be in place next month when Oak Crest hosts the UP men’s championships.

“Our biggest controversy holes are 10, 3 and 18,” Londo said of the par 4, 5 and 4 holes. “We made darn sure that the pins will be in the ideal spots on those three holes.”

Every golfer will receive a pin placement sheet if requested. That’s not to say the greens won’t be challenging. But the pin placements will be fair.

“Some of the greens are tricky if you miss on the wrong side,” Londo said. “I don’t care where the pin is, you’re still going to find yourself with a tough up and down.”

Londo noted that the left-hand side on the 18th green can be difficult.

“There’s certain spots on our greens that you just can’t put the ball on,” he said. “I want players to walk out of here with two putts and a rare three-putt.”

As for course conditions, Londo has not viewed Oak Crest in better shape despite the recent heat wave.

“The warm temperatures have been a hindrance but we’re trying to put down as much water as we can,” Londo said. “I don’t care what kind of golf course you have, you’re going to find the effects of the weather. But the course is in wonderful shape.”

Londo, who once directed a UP Ladies Golf Association major tournament at Highland Golf Course in Escanaba, has grown to enjoy the “very friendly” Oak Crest atmosphere in his first year here.

“It’s basically going into a neighborhood that makes you feel welcome right from the get-go,” Londo said.

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