Sportsman Challenge tests skill, good fortune
It’s formally known as the Lowcountry Sportsman’s Challenge.
But it’s really event organizer Mark Flory and 31 buddies battling for some bragging rights. And it’s those friendships that have kept the challenges going strong for 15 years.
The second one in the Lowcountry will be held Friday and Saturday in the Goose Creek area. Darts, bowling, golf, pool and horseshoes are the five sports Flory has found works best for everybody involved.
Flory and friends have been doing the challenges in Florida since the late 1990s and the group has plans to organize one in the Nashville area next year.
He has lived in the Sunshine State most of his life after graduating from Stall High School in 1978 and Baptist College in 1983 but has plenty of old friends here.
“We had a group coming down from South Carolina and we thought about having one here,” said Flory, who is assisted by Goose Creek native Frank Waters in organizing the local challenge. “All of my family is right there in Goose Creek. I still call Goose Creek my home.”
A year ago, 16 participants competed in the inaugural local Challenge and it was won by Crowfield resident Duane Huggins. Huggins competed in six Challenges in Florida before finally winning one last year.
“I don’t remember ever really being in the running to win one until last year,” he said.
The Challenge is as much about the luck of the draw as it is individual skill. In four of the five events, there is a blind draw to match up partners. So, while one may be the best golfer of the bunch they could get paired up with someone who hasn’t pulled the clubs out of the closet in a decade. Partners get the same amount of points for their finishes in the events.
“Your partner has to hold up their end of the bargain,” said Huggins, who was on the winning team in darts and horseshoes last year.
Huggins admits he got a lot of help in horseshoes.
“He threw quite a few ringers,” Huggins said of his partner in 2012.
The final event has a twist it’s own too. The top 16 sportsmen in the standings will be matched up with somebody from the lower half of the standings as their horseshoe partner.
“With 32 players this year, it’s going to be more of a challenge,” Huggins said.
Huggins has been working off the rust in recent weeks. He will be joined in this year’s Challenge by both of his sons, including one that will fly in from St. Louis. In all, 19 Lowcountry sportsmen will vie for the Challenge crown.
“It’s more about fun but of course everybody wants to win,” Huggins said.
The Challenge starts with darts on Friday night at 7 at Moonshine Saloon on Myers Road and then moves to Shore Lanes for bowling.
On Saturday morning, Oaks Country Club will be the site for nine holes of golf, followed by pool at 1 p.m. at Bruce’s Bar and Grill. It concludes with horseshoes at 317 Koontz Place in Moncks Corner, the home of horseshoe pitching pro Bob Koontz.
“A lot of good friendships have been made in this thing over the years,” Flory said. “… We’ve got some young people, like 21 and 22, all the way up to 70 years old.”
Flory’s longtime friend Keith Hurley, from Cocoa Beach, Fla., has won four of the challenges.
“I’m sure he’s coming up there to try to bring (the trophy) back home with him,” Flory said.
Flory said he would be more than happy to offer advice to anybody wanting to start their own challenges. For more information, contact Flory at firstname.lastname@example.org.