Much of the month of May will see a wave of golfers at Useless Bay Golf & Country Club on South Whidbey during its military appreciation weeks.
For the past decade about 150 active duty military men and women annually tee off, completely free of charge. This year, the club’s golf committee opted to offer free golf during non-peak times from May 4 to May 22.
Typically a members-only course, the pristine greens get non-member visitors from NAS Whidbey Island, Naval Station Everett and, new this year, Coast Guard members in the area.
“It’s just our way, members of the Useless Bay Golf Club, to show our appreciation for their sacrifices,” said club committee member Tim See, himself a Vietnam War veteran.
“You can spot them: the short haircuts,” See laughed. “They’re out there hacking away.”
Military appreciation is the only time the course is ever played free of charge, said club Head Pro Brion Lubach, other than when South Whidbey High School hosts meets and tournaments.
On a sunny morning Thursday, a trio of men stationed at NAS Whidbey took advantage of the free round with a morning tee time. Driving, chipping and putting their way along the 11th hole, chiefs Eric Rice, James Lawhon and Ray Hass were visiting the private club for the first time.
“I don’t get to golf very much, so this is a really great opportunity,” Rice said. “And it’s a really nice course.”
In addition to golf, the armed forces visitors are treated to a free lunch or dinner at the clubhouse’s restaurant.
Useless Bay’s golf committee advertises with the nearby military bases, but Lubach said the club is happy to host any active duty service men and women who make a tee time and show up with their military identification.
“If you’re active duty, bring it on,” he said.
The club’s golf committee solicits the club members for donations to cover the greens fees and meal costs, just as they do for their student scholarship contributions. The work and a little club member patience is worth it, See said.
“What’s really nice is when we see the military folks come out; they’re so appreciative,” he said.