Monday, 25 January 2021

Local horseshoe competitors pitch to win

Several Lake County competitors put in stellar performances at the Ukiah Valley Horseshoe Club tournament this weekend. Photo by Suzette Cook-Mankins.


UKIAH Close does count in horseshoes as 19 competitors pitched an average of 300 shoes each during the two-day Tom Burns Jr. Tournament. Ukiah Valley Horseshoe Club hosted the tournament at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds.

Contestants took over nine clay pits and played against fellow pitchers who are ranked according ringer averages.

The highest-ranked pitcher, Bernie Merchen, hails from Lake County and touts an average of 55 percent ringers.

Other participants traveled from Santa Rosa, Vallejo, Willits and Fort Bragg.

On Saturday three groups of pitchers vied for first and second place in each group.

In group one, with ringer percentages from 55 percent to 31 percent, Marty Scribner from Fort Bragg went home with first place and a Tournament Champion award while John Brotherton from Clearlake Oaks took second place.

In the second group, with ringer percentages from 30 percent to 17 percent, Dave Shelton from Willits took first place and a Class Champion award while James Taylor from Lakeport took second place.

The third group with ringer percentages of 17 percent to 5 percent was won by Scott Briggs with Randy Leonard taking second place. Both men live in Ukiah.

On Sunday competitors were grouped into one class with ringer averages of 55 percent to 7 percent with an 80-percent handicap figured into the scores.

Robert Harrall of Lucerne took first place and Tournament Champion by half a game and Will Facey from Lakeport took second place.

This was an NHPA (National Horseshoe Pitching Association)-sanctioned tournament and open to all pitchers from any sanctioned club in the world.

On these two warm days in Ukiah all the winners were members of the Ukiah Valley Horseshoe Club.

Gil Tournour, president of UVHC, is proudly sporting a first place from the Rogue River Money Tournament in Grants Pass, Ore., which took place on June 9 and 10. Although he didn't win in Ukiah this weekend he pitched a 50-percent game for the first time in his career on Sunday.

The UVHC was founded in 1981 by Barek Wright and Jerry Beach. The club practices on Thursdays at 5 p.m. and encourages drop-ins who might be interested in competing and joining the club.

For more information contact UVHC President Gil Tournour at 485-7894 or visit


Bernie Merchen of Lake County was the highest-ranking pitcher entering the contest. Photo by Suzette Cook-Mankins.


John Brotherton of Clearlake Oaks took second place in the first day's group one. Photo by Suzette Cook-Mankins.


Lucerne's Robert Harrall took first place and tournament champion honors. Photo by Suzette Cook-Mankins.


Will Facey of Lakeport took second place in the tournament. Photo by Suzette Cook-Mankins.


Bernie Merchen and Will Facey saluted the flag before the competition began. Photo by Suzette Cook-Mankins.



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