Tossing horseshoes

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Portsmouth Horseshoe Club is holding a big day of horseshoe pitching and bringing together some of the top pitchers from around the state for the first-ever Don Masters Summer Classic at Sleepy Hole Park on Saturday, Aug. 22.

The Portsmouth Horseshoe Club was founded in 2003 and now has more than 20 members said president and tournament director Sherwood Brown. Don Masters, now at age 83, joined the club in 2004, and can still “pitch” or toss horseshoes with the best of them.

Masters won the Virginia Horseshoe Pitchers Association senior championship in 2004 and is out there as much as any member said Brown.

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The Portsmouth Horseshoe Club meets four evenings a week. On Tuesdays and Thursday, the club is at the Coast Guard Station in Portsmouth. On Mondays and Wednesdays, from 5 p.m. to dusk, the club practices at Sleepy Hole Park’s courts. The club’s season goes from April to November.

“We’re dedicating this event to one of our oldest members,” said Brown. “We’re going to have a presentation and give him a plaque. This event will be dedicated to him and we’re going to make it an annual event.”

“Don started pitching about 50 years ago and he’s been a member of the club since 2004. He loves the game and I think it keeps him going, and at his age, he’s in very good shape.”

The Don Masters Summer Classic will be a round robin tournament, with the field broken up into classes. For example, said Brown, the A Class, the best pitchers, in a tournament is usually for pitchers who make ringers on 40-50 percent of their shots.

The tournament will be a sanctioned Virginia Horseshoe Pitchers Association event, so only members in the Association may participate. There are plenty of opportunities for rookies to come out and give the sport a try though said Brown, mainly every evening the club meets and practices at Sleepy Hole Park.

“(Sleepy Hole Park) is one of the best facilities on the East Coast. There are 12 sanctioned, new courts. It’s the second biggest horseshoe court in Virginia and it was sanctioned by the (VHPA) last year,” said Brown.

“The public is more than welcome to come out any time,” said Brown. The club also puts on clinics at schools around Tidewater and at the Coast Guard Station.

The Portsmouth Horseshoe Club has two more events coming up in October, one which is open to the public and another for sanctioned members. The Suffolk Peanut Fest Horseshoe Tournament, a doubles tournament which is open to the public, is set for Oct. 9-10 at the Peanut Fest.