A little extra golf for a good cause is seldom a bad thing.
Brett Jacklin, Alex Fowke, Evan MacLean and Tommy Vlahos had to go to a playoff hole to decide the second annual Idy Match for NEO Kids - but they weren't about to complain.
Up a couple at the turn, Fowke and Vlahos would see their opponents mount a late surge, with Jacklin sinking a key putt on number eight (they opened on ten), before bouncing back to claim 2021 bragging rights on the extra hole.
"It was awesome to go to 18 and beyond - there's nothing more that we can ask for," said Fowke, back in Sudbury following a year of competition with the Ranger College Rangers in Texas.
"Brett made a great putt on eight, but the whole day, really, is about a great cause."
Setting a goal of $5000 for year two, comfortably beyond the $3000 or so that was raised in 2020, the four multi-sport talents have already surpassed the $7500 plateau, with donations closing on June 1st.
Hard to believe what started off as a bet between friends has blossomed into so much more.
"Evan wanted to play a match for money - but then he suggested that we should do it for charity," recalled Vlahos. "We did it on short notice last year, with about a week of preparation. This year, we started about a month and a half earlier and increased the goal."
Perhaps the most impressive part of this fundraising initiative is the buy-in that they have seen from their peer group, understandably a group of young men and women, generally below the age of 25, often times just completing their post-secondary education or still very early into their careers.
With a keen acumen for the value of social media, the lads have made this must see TV for anyone who follows sport closely in Sudbury.
And while both Fowke and MacLean are beneficiaries of golf scholarships south of the border, their partners in crime have acquitted themselves well, even if their preference might lie with an on-ice shootout.
"Alex and I go back to our hockey days, when we were linemates, so you develop some chemistry there," said Vlahos. "He's a good long ball hitter and I'm pretty good with the putter and chipping. It all went hand in hand today."
With more than 100 OHL games on his resume and preparing to join the Western Mustangs come the fall, following the cancellation of Laurentian Voyageurs hockey, Jacklin fully understands the perspective that Vlahos was offering.
"When you're playing with D1 golfers like this, my first tee shot, I'm more nervous than starting an OHL game," he said. "After the first hole, you settle in pretty good and it's a fun day."
Still, it's always nice when you can pull your own weight when it comes to a doubles match play scramble format.
"Evan was hitting the ball nice and far off the teem so I didn't have to worry about that," said Jacklin. "I think I complemented him well around the green with my putting. I made a few good putts down the stretch that helped us get a couple of holes back, so I was definitely happy with that."
Truth be told, the ability to hit the ball a mile is balanced out, when it comes to playing the Idylwylde, known far more for its emphasis on key shot placements and tricky greens that can match up with some of the best in the province.
"There's a big emphasis on the short game here, especially with putting in a match play format," said Fowke. "It often comes down to the greens. We made a couple of putts today, which helped us."
As for 2022, the hope is to integrate the likes of Tristan Renaud and Josh Hayes, and perhaps Behind the Bench Podcast co-contributors Alex Cimino and Mason Savage to the mix, with likely another bump up for the targeted goal of the fundraising initiative.
And if it takes an extra hole or two to decide the matches, well, everyone is fine with that.