Jake Spiegel could be heard from far away. After dropping a long birdie putt, he and his playing partners screamed in excitement before giving out high-fives and fist pounds between each other. “I’ll tell you right now, this is the team you want to be a part of,” Ryan Bloemke said of the group. “The energy’s high. The weather’s great. The atmosphere’s great. Everybody’s having a good time. We couldn’t ask for more.”
This display of jubilation wasn’t at the Masters Tournament, which was being played at the same time hundreds of miles away, or some stuffy corporate retreat. Bloemke, Spiegel and the rest of their foursome from NexLeaf Cultivation were competing in the Blunts and Bogeys Golf Tournament. Hosted by Herbage Magazine, the tournament brings businesses and individuals from throughout the Cannabis industry together for an afternoon of golf, fun and Networking. The tournament was held Saturday, April 8 at the Choctaw Creek Golf Course.
“This event is important for team camaraderie and a little bit of exposure,” Bloemke said. “Just kind of exposurewith the community. But with that being said, I mean, we’re just here to have a good time and try to spread some awareness.”
With the temperatures hovering around 80 degrees, 30 teams convened in Choctaw for an afternoon on the links. But it was Exotic Cultivators who came out on topafter shooting an amazing team score of 52 over the 18 holes. Even those who didn’t take the top prize, couldn’t have been more pleased with the day, which included some very full and valuable gift bags, a catered lunch from DOPE Chef Jay , beverages and all the medical cannabis that patients could load onto their carts.
“We got blessed with the best day of the year so far for golf,” said Jamie Marshall of Dazed Cannabis. “So that along with the company getting to spend time with each other outside of work is always a positive thing. Andgetting to meet new people and getting to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it is always interesting and fun.”
However, according to James Bridges, the Herbage Magazine founder and creator of the Blunts and Bogeys Golf Tournament, the event has always been more about bringing the industry together than the final score.
“We definitely wanted to show the overall unification of our community across the state,” Bridges said. “We had dispensaries there, we had growers there, we had processors there, we had photographers there. We had event people and festival throwers. We had distribution companies there. We even had apparel companies involved. And so, with all of these people, and with all of that, the thing I think of most is that it is VERY possible to have a group of like minded individuals gather onto a field of grass and play together as equals. Not just one sector of the industry. We can look at all the different sectors of this industry and have them come together and meet each other and have a good time and do all the things that we did in a big way. And we proved it.”
Sponsors and participants were made up of an eclectic group from around Oklahoma. They included: Oryon Cannabis, THE COWBOY CUP, Livesource Cloud, Electric Avenue Farms, Resonant Cultivation, 4H Pharms, HWY-Lines, Dazed Cannabis, NexLeaf Cultivation, The Laughing Goat, Well Rooted, The Cowboy Cup, UFCW 100, 77 Farms, Exotic Cultivators, Ruby Mae’s, Jagged Quail, The Pott County Hideout, Drip Cultivation, Stay at Home Dabs, B&K Buds, Bono-Ape, Pharm Phresh, Alliance Oklahoma, Holiday, Level Up, RX3 Gardens, and Vibe OKC.
During the past few years, Herbage Magazine has held several different golf tournaments. That includes the Herbage Golf Fall Classic, which was last held in September of 2022. Yet, this edition of the Blunts and Bogeys Tour is by far the largest he and his team have put on.
“I was more than pleasantly surprised,” Bridges said. “I think everyone benefits from it. The people that attended, participants, all of our sponsors. The golf course itself and the community of everyone that was involved. I think it was an overall success. So much so that we have scheduled our next two golf events for this year alone.”
Dan Carmel, owner of Oryon Cannabis, was excited. “As proud sponsors of Herbage Magazine’s Blunts and Bogeys, we at Oryon Canna were thrilled to see cannabis and golf enthusiasts come together. Our team is passionate about promoting the positive effects of cannabis, and events like these help us do just that. We can’t wait to continue supporting the cannabis community. Thanks again for having us, and we’re grateful to play a small part in the growth of Oklahoma’s cannabis culture.” Brandon Leinberger from Oryon Cannabis agreed with Bridges’ assessment of the need for the importance of industry-wide events like Blunts and Bogeys.
“It definitely ties people together,” Leinberger said. “No matter what you’re going to do, it’s got to make the community feel more together when you’re doing things representing the same thing and sharing fun experiences.”
The growth in the tournament can be tied to the growth in the cannabis industry and its strong ties in Oklahoma. Since medical marijuana became legal in the state, cannabis has evolved and expanded to become a lifestyle, a way of community support, commerce, and even fun.
“It’s been a great event to get together, connect and network with other owners, employees, everyone in the industry,” said Mike Cataldo of NexLeaf and LiveSource. “It’s good to be outdoors and be active and do something besides sitting around. It’s good to be out and about on a beautiful day and network. It’s good for being together with the employees as well as just talking to people. I think it’s important because it shows that you are part of something larger than just yourself. Just being part of the community is important to us and the Oklahoma cannabis community.”
Yet, it is still considered in its infancy, which is why industry events, like HerbageGolf, are important, said Hunter Hoppy from 4H Pharms. “You know the cannabis community is not too big in Oklahoma right now,” Hoppy said. “It’s still growing. So, getting everybody together and making sure everybody has their own back was good.”
Hunter used as an example the recent failed vote on State Question 820 that would have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana to anyone 21 and older as an example of why the people in the industry need to work together even more. “I work in the cannabis industry, and I work in the mobile home industry. They’re both small industries, but there is a lot of money in both industries,” Hoppy said. “So, we always stay tight-knit and we have each other’s back. I think that’s what it takes to be able to make this thing work. The vote for adult cannabis use just got voted down. I think doing things like this will keep everybody together and help make that happen one day.”
According to Cataldo, Blunts and Bogeys forces business owners to delete their more individualistic tendencies and look at the bigger picture. “I think events like this are a necessary part to grow together versus as individuals,” Cataldo said. “A lot of times we are closed off within our company and we just worry about ourselves. Events like this create partnerships where we can all grow together versus individually.”
One of the first-time competitors at the Blunts and Bogeys was Joe Lee, an organizer with UFCW 1000. His union was one of the tournament’s sponsors and provided the golf carts. As Oklahoma’s cannabis industry grows, Lee said his union wants to be part of their growth and make sure people understand just how specialized the workers are. “Cannabis workers are highly skilled professionals and should be recognized as such. They are extremely dedicated, knowledgeable, and passionate about the industry. They deserve to be recognized and have a voice in the workplace. That is why the Blunts and Bogeys tournament is so important. It gave him a chance to meet and talk to business owners about what it’s going to take to help the industry grow and get stronger.
“We bring a lot of things to the table as far as political connections, affordable health insurance and retirement plans. Things like safety on the job and just helping support the industry as a whole,” Lee said. “There is a lot of people’s hard work, sweat and blood that’s gone into this industry and we want to help the industry survive and maintain.”
Almost to a person, the main word that was used throughout the day was community. Everyone seemed to know that whatever lies ahead for the Oklahoma cannabis industry, it is going to take the entire collective to keep it working and growing. “I think it’s important for us to have opportunities to get to know each other and spend time together,” Marshall said. “Because at the end of the day, we’re all in the same industry, in the same business. And there are a lot of things that it’s going to take a long time to get through all of this. I think we’re going to have to have a lot of cooperative things that we do right in order to overcome some of the challenges that we have and that we’re going to have.”
It may seem unrealistic to some that a friendly golf tournament can help strengthen and expand the cannabis industry. But those who have attended any of the past outings will co-sign on what the experience has done for them in terms of bringing people together. Bridges says that he has been grateful that the community can find a way to unify. “I know there are so many other creative ways we can accomplish such positive results. I hope others in our community can come up with new creative ideas. As always, I hope Herbage Magazine can contribute to that positive outcome in any way possible. We will continue to reach our goals by staying true to one another.. We all want the same thing. We all want people to have a better way of life. We want them to have a choice and we want them to not feel bad about that. In a way we truly are a big family.”