BATTLE OF THE BELLS
By C.J. Gish
Observer Staff Writer
ISLAND CITY It started when Brian and Fred Bell Jr. decided to start collecting golf balls they found on their way home from Island City Elementary School.
Twenty years later, the two have become the first brother tandem in more than half a century to compete for the La Grande Country Club championship finals.
On Sunday, Brian and Fred will maneuver around the golf course they grew up playing on to see which will win what has been dubbed The Battle of the Bells.
The two will play the first 18 holes starting at 9 a.m. The second 18 holes will begin at 1 p.m.
Its been over 50 years since Charlie and Everet Reynolds competed for the club title, La Grande Country Club golf pro Bill Rusholt said.
The Bells have combined for five club titles in the past five years with Fred Jr. winning in 1990, 91, 99 and 2000. Brian won in 1997.
Were both really competitive, Brian, 27, said. If were out playing for fun, we still have a 50 cents a hole game going on the side.
The two were introduced to golf in 1981, the first year Rusholt came to the La Grande Country Club.
We went to Island City Elementary School and wed walk home and pick up golf balls and put them in buckets in the garage, Brian said.
When dad Fred Sr. decided the buckets of golf balls were taking up too much room in the garage, he had the boys take them back to the Country Club and the two started taking lessons.
The results have led to both lowering their handicap to two on the Country Club course.
Fred has won the past two club titles, including beating Brian last year in the semifinals round to advance en route to the championship.
Last year when we played each other (in the semis), we rode in the same cart. This year, I told him were riding in separate carts, Brian joked.
I beat him last year, but (Brians) more serious about golf than I am, Fred, 29, said. I dont put any pressure on myself. Nothing really bothers me.
I just come out and play. I dont even practice any more. I dont play as much as Brian.
Work and other obligations have kept Fred from being on the course this past year.
I havent played 36 holes all year. Actually, Ive only played 18 holes four or five times.
Fred admits playing 36 holes on Sunday may affect both golfers games.
It does get to you on those last few holes. Especially on a 90-degree day.
I hope we both play our best games and we both have our A games and one of us isnt playing our B game, Brian said. But golf is kind of funny. You never know how anything can happen.
But no matter what, it will be fun.