Players in last week's Combs Cup golf tournament liked the event for a number of reasons. Highland School's Dudley Payne may have had the most practical one.
"Half the reason is playing this course," the junior said as he looked out on the 18th green at Bull Run Country Club golf course in Haymarket. "This is something like 80 bucks on the weekend to play."
Payne took advantage of the opportunity at Tuesday's and Wednesday's tournament, shooting a nine-hole total of 39 in the fourth and only individual leg of the four-round tournament. His friend Mike Swann of Fauquier shot a 38 to achieve the lowest score, but Liberty's team swept all four rounds and won the tournament by 21 strokes over Fauquier.
Liberty's two-day total in the Ryder Cup-style tournament was 387, followed by Fauquier with 408 and Highland with 432. The Wakefield School, which only brought three players, treated the event as an exhibition.
But winning wasn't the first thing on any of the players' minds in the second annual event, which was organized by 33-year-old multimillionaire Douglas Combs of Warrenton as a way for private and public school golf teams to play each other in a team-oriented format.
The four rounds were divided evenly over two days, with the first three rounds each devoted to two-man team formats. The first round was played by captain's choice, the second alternate shots and the third two-man best ball.
Most participants had never played such a format, and Swann had done so only in last year's event, which Liberty also won.
"It can be kind of frustrating when you hit a good shot but your teammate hits a bad shot," said Swann, a senior. "Then again, it's a relief when your teammate hits a good shot and bails you out."
"It's not too often you have to rely on someone else in golf," Payne said.
The players also were able to enjoy new uniforms provided by some of the 15 sponsors Combs lined up for the event. Combs also arranged for former Washington Redskins player Monte Coleman--a friend of Liberty Activities Director Jerry Carter--and Anne P. Petera, secretary of the commonwealth, to present the trophy to Liberty's winning team.
In addition, Swann was rewarded with the choice of a new driver or putter from TaylorMade, with Payne receiving the one Swann didn't choose.
"I putted pretty well, so I think I'll grab the driver," Swann said.
Afterward, Combs pronounced the event a success.
"It went great," he said. "I think the kids are very happy. It was a lot of fun for the kids, and that's what's most important."