Rocking it Like it’s 1985
What’s been around for 30-something years, is decked in Levis’ cutoffs, and brings the party to the end of the season?
If you named one of our beloved members, you’re probably right too. But in this case, the correct answer is the Fly Wide Open.
Resting on the fireplace mantel at Redstone’s clubhouse, the tournament’s striking trophy is on display for all to adore: a pair of bronzed Levi cutoff shorts, affixed to a base and proudly sporting a putter emerging from the wide-open fly. The trophy is ridiculously fun, original and prestigious — words that also describe the 30-plus year event, which boasts a colourful past that extends to the present.
So grab your team of four, ramp up the spirit like it’s 1985, and get ready to play in this year’s four-person lone-ranger scramble on September 24th in support of the Rossland Arena Revitalization Project.
A Fun Scramble for the Community
“Anything we can do at the end of the golf season to put some charity dollars into the community that also promotes a good time is what Redstone’s about,” says General Manager Jeff Bruce. “We’ve got an outstanding group of volunteers that are really championing this event. The Fly Wide is a great way for our members and non-members to meet some new people and it’s kind of a last hurrah for the golf course because it’s held annually in late September. Our closing scramble is just a nice little shot in the arm and a thank-you to the community for a good season.”
The event originated in the mid-80s, courtesy of the old Rossland nine-hole food and beverage contractor of the time. Billy Blackburn, along with Dave Cochrane and Max Spear, ran a tight ship and had a boatload of fun doing it. The original format was a two-person scramble that attracted a full field of avid golfers who knew how to have a good time.
“Gosh, I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just absolutely one of the funnest events and it’s got so much history,” says Kelly Acheson who volunteered in the mid-90s, helping Gino Berno organize the extensive prize giveaways. “It’s one of those things that never dies. It followed Billy when he went to Champion Lakes Golf Course, Castlegar Golf Club — wherever he went, the tournament followed; he was the event master for a number of years.”
Wild Times at the Tourney
For years, the Fly Wide Open has been the event of the season. Kelly recalls her husband playing in the tourney in 2001, the year she was pregnant with her daughter Eva. “I was four days overdue and he went out to Champion Lakes to play in it… Like, you just did — no matter what!”
Recapping a legendary tournament is a bit like going for eagle on hole 4 at Redstone — it’s challenging, but not impossible; for some of us, at least. As Kelly puts it: “We’re only once removed from the entirely accurate story.”
According to Max Spear “if you remember it, you weren’t really there.” He laughs, adding “jeepers, I don’t remember much, just that it was a lot of fun and that Billy was a horrible golfer who always had the best golf partner — Derrick Simister — so he managed to win a few times.”
The live music, the prizes, and the award ceremony that bequeathed the winners with the coveted trophy were a thrill, but it’s the steaks and chicken cordon bleu that Billy fondly recalls.
“We used it as an end-of-year chance to blow out all of our kitchen stock, so whoever was entering the tournament got a great deal because we’d purge our quality stock and give them all a meal to remember,” says Billy, who many remember from Rockingham’s, a Rossland restaurant that rocked from 1989-1997.
Good Vibes at Fly Wide
The Fly Wide Open was always a riot, and these days it continues its legacy of not taking life too seriously. It’s not quite Christmas in July, but for some Rosslanders, especially those already trying on their ski boots in September, the Fly Wide is an excellent event to enjoy during the shoulder season, before Red Mountain opens and the backcountry calls.
“It still has that vibe and flavour to it,” says Jeff. “The difference is that in the last two years, everything changed with COVID restrictions. So while we’ve shied away from the big dinner at the moment, we still get a lot of happy people out, some in costume, others who have played the tournament every year. That blending pot of personalities is what we love to capture at Redstone. We can’t wait to see you there!”