Mary Ann Bane
You read that headline right! But no worries, they are coming back! What’s drawing them to Montana? Well, it’s beautiful for starters, and a vacation is always nice, but if you guessed a pickleball tournament, you are right again! Find out why this tournament is special and why quite a few Ranchers are planning a trip!
Do the names Jim and Patti Lafferty sound familiar? Most club members know the Laffertys from playing pickleball with them, or perhaps Jim was your Pickleball Academy instructor. Do you remember a band called “Exit 79” that entertained on our Grill Patio? That was Jim’s band. You may know Jim and Patti from having been your neighbors, or Jim from your Softball Team or Tennis Club, or sipped a beverage with Patti in the Wine Club!
As much as the Laffertys obviously loved it here, Jim and Patti envisioned a life in Montana, and made their move not long ago. To retire quietly? No way! They took their love for pickleball and built “Jewel Basin Center” and established the “Two Rivers Pickleball Club” in Bigfork, Mont. The Center features six outdoor courts and four indoor courts. Beyond pickleball, it also features an outdoor stage area for musical events, weddings, etc., as well as a conference center with indoor seating for 600 attendees!
Flash forward to this coming July 16 to 18 when Jewel Basin Center will be home to its first sanctioned pickleball tournament titled “2021 Crown of the Continent.” The event already has 218 registered players that currently includes at least 20 of our resident club members, and that number may climb! I contacted one of these travelers, Al Arco, to learn what made he and his wife Kari choose this trip. Here’s some of what Al shared.
“Jim was the lead instructor in the Pickleball Academy Kari and I attended. We instantly connected discussing the sport and strategies to be successful. Over time we chatted on far ranging topics from his short story writings, music, and each of our passion of Cuban cuisine. We were very saddened when Patti and Jim broke the news to us that they were moving permanently to Bigfork, Mont. Northwest Montana is a beautiful part of the country Kari and I have yet to visit. So, when Jim first mentioned he was building the Jewel Basin Center aka “The Jewel”, our first thought was we needed to go visit and play in this amazing new facility. I’ve lost count how many “Ranchers” are going up for the tournament. One thing is for sure, Patti and Jim are going to feel the Texas love.”
So, congrats to Jim and Patti Lafferty on your huge achievement! May it bring you great joy and success while it brings joy to thousands in the future who will visit your “Jewel.” Safe travels, lots of fun, and winning medals to our Ranchers headed there this July!
Jewel Basin Center: www.jewelbasincenter.com
Two Rivers Pickleball Club: www.tworiverspickleball.com
Check out this feature article about Jewel Basin Center in Montana Living at tinyurl.com/wdsvtkzw.