Teeing up a tradition

Published 9:18 pm Wednesday, January 2, 2008

By Staff
Black-Eyed Pea Open at least 25 years old
Staff Writer
Tees and peas came together for at least the 25th time Tuesday at a Beaufort County golf course as New Year’s Day revelers took to the links in early morning for the annual Black-Eyed Pea Open at Bayview Golf Club.
The event was cooked up about a quarter a century ago at a New Year’s Eve party.
In keeping with the Southern tradition of cooking black-eyed peas for consumption on New Year’s Day, the group decided to set a pot of water to boiling on the clubhouse porch. Before teeing off, the group’s members left a note on the pot asking any passersby to stir the peas while they were on the course.
The group had such a good time that Swindell suggested it repeat the event the next year. The Black-Eyed Pea Open is at least 25 years old. What began as a golf game and a simmering pot of peas has expanded into an annual event that routinely draws more than 50 golfers. And that pot of peas has been joined by two pots of lima beans, homemade hushpuppies and dessert. Fifty-six competitors hit the links this year in high 50-degree temperatures and bright sunshine, not always the case, said Wingate.
The golfers no longer have to leave the stirring of their pots of peas and beans to chance. These days, three boiling cauldrons of peas or beans and the deep fryer for the hushpuppies are manned constantly while the game is being played. Those peas and beans, Wingate said, is what makes the event unique from a normal round of golf.
Wingate said most of the regular participants are from surrounding towns and cities, including Washington, Bath, Belhaven, Pantego and Aurora. Some play at the golf course only once a year, saving their A game for the tournament, he said.
The tournament, which pays cash prizes to its winners, did not start as a competition.
Wingate’s wife, Alice, said for many years there has been a waiting list to participate.
Not only the Washington Yacht and Country Club, but other golfing facilities have taken up the tradition of cooking peas and beans and hosting games the first day of the year. Wingate said a club in Robersonville planned to host such an event for the first time this year, but the Bayview event is the first of its kind in the area.