Life from fringe still fun for tourney regulars

Herald File Photo
Dave Shipley (at left) and John Uebelhor (below) are among the regulars at The Herald’s Dubois County Amateur golf tournament who usually find themselves behind the leaders. Yet the itch for competition in the County Am setting is part of what keeps guys like Shipley and Uebelhor coming back for the County Am, which kicks off Saturday at Huntingburg Country Club and continues Sunday at Sultan’s Run.


There’s one rule for Dave Shipley. No matter what happens on the course — whether it be an errant shot into the water or a string of tee shots sliced into the woods — he’s finishing his round at The Herald’s 48th annual Dubois County Amateur men’s golf tournament.

“I can throw in big numbers on a couple holes but I don’t give up,” Shipley said. “That’s part of the sport as far as I’m concerned.”

That’s also the reason Shipley keeps coming back year after year. He started playing the County Am in 2000 and since then he hasn’t missed an installment of the summer tournament. That includes this year’s edition, which tees off Saturday at Huntingburg Country Club. The second round will be played Sunday at Sultan’s Run Golf Club with the final round next Sunday, July 23, at Buffalo Trace Golf Course.

Along with Shipley will be a smattering of other perennial competitors who share one factor in common — they realistically have no chance of challenging two-time defending champion Jacob Bartley, and surviving the cut after the second round is far from a guarantee. So what keeps them coming back each year for more?

“I just love playing with different people,” said John Uebelhor, who after missing the first couple years of the County Am has played in every tournament since. “Everyone is so friendly and nice at the Dubois County Tournament and I’d like to play a couple more years to get it to the 50th year for the county. As long as I make the cut.”

That’s a crucial distinction for Shipley and Uebelhor. Even if they aren’t in the hunt for the top spot, it’s still a competition. Shipley is hoping he catches fire one year and sneaks into the top 10 but strives to at least make the cut after the first two rounds each year.

“It’s a game of skill and you test your skill against other players,” Shipley said. “When you love the sport and love the game you want to play with friends and you like to compete. It’s part of the nature of the sport — competition — to see where you stack up on that particular weekend.”

That’s what brought Rex Bredemeier back after a three-year hiatus from the tourney. He started playing about 10 years ago before persistent back problems made his time on the course staggered and inconsistent.

But he’s back this year, for the competition as much as who he’s up against.

“It’s just a fun tournament,” Bredemeier said. “It’s all about getting out there with the boys and playing the game for what it is. You go out and play with your buddies day in and day out, and you just do things differently in tournament play. It’s the thrill of the tournament. It’s self-satisfying.”

Those aspects that are different in the tournament primarily consist of Bredemeier having to follow the rules to the letter, so you might not see him giving his ball a little nudge out of the rough.

“In tournament play you’re not supposed to do that; at least you don’t want to get caught doing it,” Bredemeier said.

But he also acknowledges the atmosphere of a tournament is just a little more amplified than a round with his buddies. That’s another reason Shipley said he embraces the County Am setting.

“There’s many talented golfers playing each year and my chances to finish as the champ are slim to none,” Shipley said. “I love the challenge of the game and the competition with the fellow golfers.”

Bredemeier said it’s also fun to be paired with someone with a shot to win, even if that means being outplayed by a sizable amount. Watching how other people attack the different courses is fun, Bredemeier said, and sets his own personal goals throughout a round irrespective of the results from the rest of the field.

For Shipley, creating those individual highlights include the time he mixed in a hole-in-one on the 14th hole at Huntingburg Country Club in 2015 while he was in the midst of a last-place finish.

Uebelhor remembers when he was a consistent fixture near the top of the leaderboard — he finished eighth as recently as 2003 — but also knows those days are in the past. Now, the goal is to keep making it to the final weekend up until the 50th installment of the tournament in 2019.

“I’d just like to get to 50 years of golf for the county and after that I’ll see what happens,” Uebelhor said. “As long as I keep making the cut, I don’t mind playing.”

Count Am fast facts

• First round — Saturday at Huntingburg Country Club

Second round — Sunday at Sultan’s Run Golf Club

Final round — July 23 at Buffalo Trace Golf Course

Defending champ — Jacob Bartley (also 2015 winner)

Multiple winners — *Derek Bolling (11 titles), Bill Dittmer Jr. (6), *Brad Bolling (5), Skip Place (5), *George Nord (3), Eric Olinger (3), E.J. Stenftenagel II (3), *Jacob Bartley (2)

* denotes golfers playing in this year’s field

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