OCEANSIDE, Calif. — It wasn’t long, it wasn’t slow, it wasn’t expensive and it wasn’t exclusive. There were more kids than adults and lots of dogs on leashes, but no sign of any ropes. Four tour pros played persimmons with a give-back agenda, a pay-it-forward enthusiasm and a far-fetched finish. The third annual Wishbone Brawl at Goat Hill Park is in the books with a bullet.
“Another shot heard ‘round the world,” was how one observer classified Geoff Ogilvy’s 132-yard ace that ended it all on the first playoff hole. “BANG!” Is how most describe the sound the ball made when it hit the base of the flagstick, which preceded pure pandemonium.
The Wishbone Brawl is as pure as it gets. Ogilvy was paired with Chris Riley, the former Ryder Cupper (2004) and UNLV All-American who is currently the head coach of the men’s golf team at the University of San Diego.
They beat Xander Schauffele - currently No. 9 in the world - and Dean Wilson, the nice guy from Hawaii who famously played with Annika Sorenstam in her PGA Tour debut at Colonial in 2003. Wilson now lives in San Diego and has been a lover and supporter of all things Goat Hill Park for the last four years.
The story has been told several times. John Ashworth, one of golf’s fashion icons, saved Goat Hill Park by rallying the community and taking over the lease from the city. Ashworth and a band of passionate locals have removed turf, renovated irrigation, converted to reclaimed water, added a 3-hole kids' course and cultivated a soulful hub of activity with a park atmosphere for anyone and everyone to come as they are and have fun.
Now the home of the North County Junior Golf Association, it was Wilson and Ashworth who hatched the idea of a turn-back-the-clock competition in which they’d invite a few local pros to play persimmon woods and raise money for a good cause.
Wilson and Schauffele have played all three years, winning it as a team the first year, beating Charley Hoffman and Chris Riley and benefitting Schauffele’s coach at San Diego State, whose daughter was being treated for a rare disease and needed help with medical bills.
In 2018, Wilson teamed up with his friend and former Masters Champion Mike Weir. They beat Schauffele and Hoffman, with most of the proceeds going to Hoffman’s foundation.
This year, the money raised will be split between the Geoff Ogilvy Foundation and the North County Junior Golf Association, with Schauffele already committing additional funds to building a new NCJGA home base at Goat Hill Park, overlooking the kids' course, known as The Playground.
“The goal here at Goat Hill Park has always been pretty simple,” says Ashworth. “We’ve all wanted to create that safe environment where we can use golf, and all the good that comes with that, to foster and grow not only the game, but great people.”
That’s exactly what surrounded the amphitheater ninth green as Wilson led off the playoff. Yet another silky swing, into the long shadows on the dance floor, he would have a good putt at birdie. Schauffele went next and landed it close, but then it spun back off the front of the green. “Goated!” cried the crowd. That's what it’s called when the course claims another victim to too much spin, not enough distance, or anything that ends up in a precarious position.
And then it was Ogilvy’s turn.
“I had hit a wedge over the green earlier,” he said. “This time, I’d dial it back a bit.”
“This looks good,” said Ashworth as the ball could barely be seen leaving the tee. “Just needs to get up a little…”
Oh, it got up. And so did most of Oceanside as Ogilvy, the Goat and the Wishbone Brawl gave everyone involved a walk-off conclusion and yet another viral example of why golf can be such an effective vehicle to bringing out the best in the community.
“It’s crazy,” said Ogilvy. “How do you make that up?!”
On the same weekend pros were playing for millions in the races to Dubai and CME Globe, and on the anniversary of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods playing for $9 million in cash, the annual little-engine-that-could at Goat Hill Park keeps generating momentum to a greater good.
And on that note, with that walk-off ace, have a Happy Thanksgiving.
The Wishbone Brawl online auction will remain open until Tuesday night and features as many as 70 items up for bid. For more, go to www.linksoul.com/wishbone and click on “online auction.”