For the past ten years in May, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has generously donated their beautiful golf course, The Cedars at Dungeness, to Salmon Defense for our annual golf tournament. The tournament was renamed the Billy Frank Jr. Classic shortly after he made his journey home on May 5, 2014. The Cedars at Dungeness is located in Sequim, Washington, perfectly nestled between the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and provides views of both throughout the course. The BFJ Classic continues to grow each year, its fundraising objective an essential success, this year netting $118,000. It is a staple fundraiser to help support special and innovative projects by providing unrestricted funds to our operational budget. The 2017 BFJ Classic allowed Salmon Defense to hire a grant writer and helped us partner with the Olympia Port Commission and the Squaxin Island Tribe to design and build the Billy Frank Jr. Park and Trail information kiosks along the Olympia waterfront.
The crisp Friday morning of May 18, 2018, the BFJ Classic kicked off as we were greeted by the Cedars at Dungeness five star staff, who helped us welcome our loyal and new volunteers to set the scene for 160 golfers. Setup went without a hitch and the flow of the morning was significantly smoother than years past. Although the weather started off with a very low cloud cover, as our guests started to arrive it burned off enough for some sun rays to provide a bit of warmth and brighten the day.
This year we incorporated two new contests: a 50-yard putt for a $13,000 prize to be split by the winner and Salmon Defense, and a roll-the-dice game for $7,000, also to be split by the winner and shared for the cause. Contestants were randomly picked from participating golfers by raffle tickets given out at registration. We were hoping, wishing, and dreaming one of our lucky golfers would win a cash roll or cash putt. However, Lady Luck outplayed us this time. As we grow as a foundation, our tournament grows and we will be looking at more innovative and fun ways to provide the most enjoyable experience for our golfers to participate to “swing a club to save a salmon.”
The BFJ Classic 2018 sponsors opened for commitments shortly after the first of the year, then sold out after the Billy Frank Jr. Salmon Summit on March 19. This broke last year’s record of filling all teams on the course. The Billy Frank Jr. Classic has become one of the most sought-after golf outings in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, that success also comes with our having to turn away a handful of sponsors because we filled the course so fast. In reply, some of those have already committed as sponsors for the 2019’s BFJ Classic. One newest sponsor hole sponsor all the way from Washington, D.C.; Josh Clause of Clause Law P.L.L.C. and enjoyed his time swinging a club to save a salmon he committed to returning to the 2019 BFJ Classic as a Hole Sponsor.
Throughout the day we all kept hoping the sun would demolish the cloud cover. While it never actually rained, our hopes for sun were not answered and as soon as the tide began to make its way back in to shore, it brought the brisk wind with it. Although chilly, it did not change the pace of play for our participating golfers. As they all made their way back in from the course they were smiling, happy, and chilled, but excited to hear which teams had been blessed by the golfing spirits. This year, Cedars used a new app to where golfers could enter their own scores, speeding up the score tallying and simplifying the entire closing process.
The competitive edge also gets stronger year by year as we offer supreme prizes for our winners. Our incredible support from Garrett Smithson at the Cedars at Dungeness for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Place prizes includes drivers, golf bags, putters, and wedges. The last three years the Pala Band of Mission Indians was on a run to take 1st Place. This year though, the 1st place Pendleton Jackets were taken home by team 2 from the Swinomish Indian Tribe, 2nd Place went to the Lummi Indian Nation team led by Chairman Julius, 3rd Place went to team 1 of the Swinomish Indian Tribe, and 4th place went to the Clearwater Casino Resort.
As Garrett and his team prepared the scores, we began our awards program by sharing the Billy Frank Jr. Witness audio clip from the Billy Frank Jr. Pacific Salmon Summit to remind our golfers and sponsors why exactly they were there. Some may have been a little startled to hear Billy’s words, but they are words that we can never forget and must be willing to continue to share. He taught us that it takes all of us working together to change the tide for the salmon. The salmon are a measurement of our health and when the salmon are healthy, we are healthy.