Rusillo has gathered a wealth of journalism experience that dates back to his high school years. He began his writing career working for his hometown newspaper, the Orcas Island’s Sounder, covering high school sports.
He then moved on to UDub and immediately began reporting for The Daily, the campus student newspaper. During his freshman year, he was fortunate to cover the crew teams and witnessed the record-setting fifth straight national title for the UW men's crew team. He has also covered women's soccer, the men's and women's basketball teams as well as the UW football team.
This wealth and diversity of experience has opened doors for Rusillo as he has also written for the Seattle Times, covering the UW football teams epic 2016 season, as well as stories for The Mountaineers, Seattle Met Magazine, and Northwest Travel and Life.
Outside of his commitment to writing, Rusillo is on his way to a double major in International Studies and Communications (with a focus in Journalism) and has a GPA of 3.58. In his leisure time, he follows his passions of trail running, rock climbing, and mountaineering.
Lake Spanaway and NWGMA Media Day Event Recap
By Alfie Lau
A small but enthusiastic gathering of NWGMA members met at Lake Spanaway Golf Course on Monday, Aug. 7 to hear what changes Kemper Sports has in store for the now 50-year-old facility it has recently taken over management of.
KemperSports Management's Matt Allen introduced the team at Lake Spanaway, which includes general manager Nicholas Pike, who has transferred over from Chambers Bay; PGA Golf Professional Matt Montecucco; and Pierce County Golf Supervisor Tony Bubenas. Kemper now manages Fort Steilacoom's 9-hole track and Lake Spanaway in addition to Chambers Bay and Allen explained some of the other initiatives Kemper has embarked on. Kemper now runs the food and beverage operations at the Home Course in DuPont, along with city clubs (fitness and meeting facilities) in Spokane and Chicago. In addition, it has taken over management of Homestead Golf Course in Lynden, WA, along with Silvies Ranch in rural Oregon.
Allen said Lake Spanaway has a loyal following of municipal golfers who use the facility. Kemper likes to call it neighbourhood golf, as opposed to municipal golf, and it's all part of Pierce County's larger parks and recreational plan to offer as many affordable services to locals and visitors.
"I'm confident we can elevate service," said Allen, who said employees have all bought in on the idea that their commitment to service their customers is the number 1 priority.
Tony Bubenas is responsible for keeping Lake Spanaway in tip-top shape and with a small crew of four full-timers and six seasonal workers, they've done a great job making sure that the A.V. Macan-designed course remains challenging for golfers of all abilities. With black tees taking the course to 7,083 yards, Lake Spanaway is a stern test for all golfers, especially since the tree-lined fairways place a premium on long and accurate drives. Bubenas pointed out that his crew has recently taken out 280 trees to improve sunlight, air movement and drainage, but that means there are still more than 2,600 trees on the picturesque site.
In addition, his crew has been re-doing two greens per year since 2013, with 15 and 18 being fully completed by this October. As anybody who's played Macan courses in the Pacific Northwest - his other designs include iconic courses such as Fircrest in Tacoma, Royal Colwood in Victoria, BC and Inglewood in Seattle - the crowned and hilly greens have subtle breaks and require precision green-reading. And Macan's bunkering is also unparalleled, meaning Lake Spanaway is a hidden gem, a public course with a private course pedigree.
Allen pointed out that Lake Spanaway is in a competitive golf market, with 14 courses within 15 miles, but that may change soon, as some courses in the area are rumoured to be closing as they get redeveloped for real estate. That won't happen at Lake Spanaway, which is in protected parkland space, but that forces Allen and his team to always evaluate how to better service their loyal clientele.
One way is by offering preferred rates to active military personnel, first responders and veterans, especially with Spanaway's close proximity to JBLM.
As part of Lake Spanaway's 50th birthday celebrations, it has offered $19.67 green fees - to commemorate the year it first opened - and there are other specials which make it one of the area's most affordable and accessible golf courses.
As part of the synergies with Chambers Bay, Lake Spanaway is looking at hosting more local tournaments and more weddings and hospitality events. As a previous host of the Puget Sound Amateur, WSGA Men's Amateur and a USGA Mid-Amateur qualifier, the course is more than challenging enough for the best golfers in the region.
Allen and his team were also able to showcase a Pierce County TV professionally produced TV short which highlighted the loyal golfers of Lake Spanaway, many of whom have been members for all 50 years of the course.
Allen, Montecucco and Bubenas then joined the NWGMA's Bob Sherwin, Alfie Lau and Guy Generaux for a fun round of golf at Lake Spanaway, where we were also joined by Michelle, one of Spanaway's food and beverage employees who was enjoying her day off on the links. While Montecucco made an eagle on the 5th hole, and Allen played well until a bothersome elbow interceded, they weren't able to overcome Sherwin's uncharacteristic bad day. Bubenas, Generaux and Lau were able to card a best-ball score of 57 - with some assistance from the lovely Michelle - to win honours for the day.
NWGMA Meeting Prior to Lake Spanaway Event
Sherwin, Lau, Jeff Shelley and Anni Shelley also convened an NWGMA meeting prior to the Spanaway event with an eye to what can be improved moving forward.
Most importantly, the final event on the NWGMA's 2017 calendar is the Year End Celebration on Monday, Sept. 25 at Fircrest, where Jack Russillo will receive his NWGMA scholarship and the 2017 Distinguished Service Award will be given out. Nomination forms will soon be sent out. A flyer for the event has already been emailed but will be sent out again so that we can have as many members at the event as possible.
Moving forward, the most important thing for 2018 is to get a calendar of events sent out to members as soon as possible. Events this year in Walla Walla and Whistler had to be cancelled because of lack of numbers, but part of that was also due to lack of advance notice.
Some of the obstacles facing our membership include many members having to care not only for children, but aging parents; members having retired or no longer having avenues for their stories to run; and date conflicts such as Boeing Classic Media Day being announced as the same day as the Spanaway event (only through Allen's understanding was the Spanaway date rescheduled, but the numbers took a hit, with about half the people having to bail because of the new date).
The NWGMA will continue to try to remain relevant, as a place where members can share ideas and help each other get great golf stories out to the public. (As an example, Craig Smith is working with the Seattle Times' Scott Hanson on a Boeing Classic story on the 7-man playoff from year's past. They were unable to find Canadian Ray Stewart, who was part of that unforgettable playoff, and reached out to Lau for possible contact info. Lau didn't have any, but was able to point Hanson in the direction of Brad Ziemer, who did have some numbers, one of which appears to be Stewart's and Hanson was able to schedule an interview. This is how the association is valuable: people helping people to get great stories out to the public)
We are asking members for feedback on how we can be better. In addition, members who want to contribute in any way moving forward are encouraged to contact Bob Sherwin or Jim Street.
Winco Food Portland Open Media Day Wrap Up
By Alfie Lau
It was a spectacularly sunny Monday in North Plains, OR, just outside of Portland and the excitement is building for the 2017 Winco Food Portland Open at Pumpkin Ridge from Aug. 24-27.
Organizers Lagerdere Sports put on another stunning Media Day, not only with a great slider lunch, made-to-order pasta dinner, and host beverages all day, but they brought in one of Oregon's favoured sons, former University of Oregon and 2016 NCAA Men's golf champion Aaron Wise, for an illuminating question-and-answer.
Lagerdere's Jeff Sanders had a nice sit-down with Wise, as the Cape Town-born golfer talked about his rise from university golf to the Mackenzie Tour (PGA Tour Canada) and then the Web.com Tour, where he won the Air Capital Classic earlier this year and guaranteed a top-25 finish on the tour which automatically elevates him to the PGA Tour come October.
And while Wise is going to the PGA Tour, there's still a lot to play for when he tees it up at Pumpkin Ridge's Witch Hollow course because with a $144,000 top prize, that could move Wise up the money list and give him more security on the PGA Tour. Wise is scheduled to play the first event of the 2017-18 PGA Tour, the Safeway Open in Napa, CA, which is an event that Lagerdere also organizes.
Sanders was also able to announce that $1.25 million was raised from last year's Winco Foods Portland Open, taking the total raised since 2014 to $3.1 million. And with 2017 ticket sales already ahead of projections, that number looks set to rise even higher.
As for the course, the Witch Hollow course at Pumpkin Ridge was in immaculate condition, with greens rolling fast and true and fairways as soft as a carpet. The winning score for the fun competition was a sparkling -14 score of 58, with -12 60 taking second place and -10 62 taking third. There were also KP competitions on the 5th and 12th holes, with prizing for each hole for each of the four sets of tees. As an aside, NWGMA secretary (yours truly) Alfie Lau won the fifth hole white tees KP with a shot that finished just 18 inches from the hole.
Tournament tickets are only $10 per day and $25 for a full-week pass. Winco has committed a full 100 per cent of all ticket sales to local charities. Some fun events taking place during the week include the Grove, located on the par-3 12th hole which will feature free craft beer samples from some of the region's finest breweries. There's also a free breakfast on Sunday morning, courtesy of General Mills. And there's also music and entertainment all week, with some big name acts soon to be announced. For more information on the tournament, go to www.WinCoGolf.com
2017 Boeing Classic Media Day Recap
By Alfie Lau
A beautiful sunny Monday, July 24 at the newly named The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge was the site of the 2017 Boeing Classic Media Day. The tournament, held since 2005, is being held Aug. 21-27 and this media event is starting to create a buzz about the best 50-and-older Champions Tour regulars who will be coming to the course formerly known as a TPC course.
New tournament director Brian Flajole said more than $600,000 was raised in 2016 for the tournament's flagship charity, the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason and that's all part of the organizers' plans to make the Boeing Classic "the premier Champions Tour event."
Some of the key players who have committed to this year's Boeing Classic include multiple Major winner Vijay Singh, defending Boeing champion Bernhard Langer and well-loved veterans such as Jose Maria Olazabal, Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie.
As for the key Pacific Northwest golfer of his and this generation, Flajole said he is still hopeful Fred Couples will play this year's Boeing Classic, but that will depend on Couples' back holding up. Flajole did say that Couples has told him it is his goal to win the Boeing Classic at some point in his career.
Other key events during the tournament include the annual Seahawks Rumble at The Ridge on Monday, Aug. 21, along with the traditional Boeing Classic flyover on Aug. 25, just prior to the opening shots being hit in the tournament.This year's flyover will also honour Arnold Palmer, who passed away last September.
As for the name change, while the course is no longer a TPC course, it has given members at Snoqualmie Ridge more flexibility and that has meant the course now has more than four miles of drainage.
For the tournament, the rough level will come in around 2.75 inches, with green speeds expected to be in the 12 to 12.5 range on the Stimpmeter.
Additional food and beverage options include Ivar's famous seafood and Chateau Ste Michelle offering its award winning wines.
While media and honoured guests and sponsors played the course on Monday morning, there were $100 prizes for a couple closest to the pins and one long drive. NWGMA members who won prizes include Curtis Crabtree and Jim Moore.
Media members wishing to be credentialled for the Boeing Classic can go to www.PGATourMedia.com
and submit an application before Aug. 20.