Sports

A film of enduring friendship and fun in Waukon: 'The Foursome'

About 50,000 people have seen film about golf playing partners of 51 years

About to be playing partners at the Waukon Men's Invitational golf tournament for the 51st-straight year: Darrel Collins
About to be playing partners at the Waukon Men’s Invitational golf tournament for the 51st-straight year: Darrel Collins of La Crescent, Minn.; Gary Peterson of McGregor, Bob Rotach of Waukon and Herb Collins of McGregor. They are the principles in the film “The Foursome.” (Wavelength Productions)

Almost 50,000 people have seen four friends play golf together in Waukon.

Those friends will form a foursome at the Waukon Men’s Invitational at Waukon Golf and Country Club Saturday, which is nothing new. It will be the 51st-straight year they’ve played together in the tournament.

Add the fact a half-hour film was made about the quartet and their streak of years together at the tournament, and that it has had nearly 50,000 views on YouTube and has been shown at several film festivals in Iowa, and it is a bit of a phenomenon.

Herb Collins and Gary Peterson of McGregor, Bob Rotach of Waukon and Darrel Collins of La Crescent, Minn., are “The Foursome,” the title of the film made by Wavelength Productions.

Wavelength’s founder/president is Jenifer Westphal, Herb Collins’ daughter. She thought a film about her dad and his three friends’ long friendship centered on an annual golf weekend had potential as a short documentary.

“At first they just filmed a lot of the golf,” Herb Collins said. “She said, ‘No, I want a story about them.’”

The finished product, directed by Wavelength’s Zack McTee, was a story about them.

“It’s much more than a story about four guys golfing together for 50 years,” McTee said. “It’s about friendship, it’s about aging in small-town America.

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“My passion is exploring interesting characters. Here is a perfect situation with four interesting characters.”

The film is sweet, but not saccharine. No one is acting, no one is presented as anything other than who they are.

“It turned out a lot better than I ever expected,” said Rotach. “I thought it would just be a DVD for us, our 50th year together. But they sent out a film crew, and it became quite a production.”

Darrel Collins, Herb’s brother, said “I think they brought the film together in a meaningful way, showing our personalities. I think they did a marvelous job. It’s a very striking film put together in such a short time.”

Herb Collins is 84, and the others are between 74 and 77. As young men, three of them coached basketball in a small northeast Iowa conference and the fourth, Herb, was a game official in the league. Peterson coached boys’ basketball in Garwin for 33 years and is in the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

The competitive juices still flow for the foursome, as you can see in the film by their delight when they drain putts or hit good tee shots, and their disgust with lesser results. Their language is colorful when their shots aren’t so great.

Peterson said some days his play “is acceptable, but most days I kind of frown when I come home. But, it’s good to be able to go out and swing the clubs and enjoy friends.”

Wavelength is trying to make “The Foursome” accessible to Iowans. The film was shown Sunday at NewBo City Market. Other showings are scheduled for Thursday at Elkader Golf & Country Club, and this weekend at the course in Waukon to coincide with this year’s Men’s Invitational.

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A bonus to the story is the way the beauty of northeast Iowa is captured. So are the merits of good potato salad.

“People around here have really enjoyed it,” Rotach said. “They say they’ve laughed and cried watching it. Life and friendship itself are, I think, the attraction. That’s gotten a lot more comments than the golf played.”

“Right now I think the world needs a wholesome and wholehearted story,” McTee said. “I think this checks that box. It’s a very nice film.”

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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