They converged on Chenal Country Club in Little Rock on Monday, smiling and shaking hands.
There would be time later for competing, but hours before the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame golf tournament tees off the golfers and celebrities start to show.
It is a time to share, catch up and be humble. Most of those attending are old school. They shake their head and claim they weren’t that good and almost always mention a teammate they thought was better.
Ken Hatfield, who led the prayer, does it every time. So does Bobby Tiner. The list generally includes those who are there for the fun in the sun, and the camaraderie and companionship as much as anything. The Bible says men need men.
It is a wholesome time, and every year the golf turns competitive at some point — it is why so many wanted PGA Tour regular Ken Duke on their team (he played for lead sponsor Frost LLC) or the hard-hitting Kevin McReynolds, who converted his home run swing in the major leagues to long-drive winner on the golf course.
Most teams have at least one good golfer, a couple of average players and one who just loves the game.
All the teams who want one have a celebrity, and like some of the participants they aren’t really golfers. In fact, several came just to drive the cart and share stories.
Others like Keith Jackson, Marvin Delph, Kevin Scanlon, Dennis Winston and Darrell Walker came for the lunch — turning a meal into a long visit — or to see old friends and teammates.
Tournaments like this — and there are others that are more successful and almost as fun (UALR was having a huge tournament Monday at Pleasant Valley Country Club) — do not just happen.
First Vice President Greg Flesher was chairman of the golf tournament, and he and President Richard Johnson kept pointing fingers at who deserved the credit for the most successful tournament in ASHOF history.
Serving on the committee were Blake Eddins, John Pieron, Rodney Peel, Greg Hatcher, Ronny McFarlin, Woody Jolley and yours truly.
Flesher mashed the details like the ace accountant he is, but everyone — including Executive Director Terri Conder Johnson — had roles, and Eddins even took on extra responsibility and arranged the gift shirt that every participant got, a Fairway and Greene golf shirt.
Those usually run north of $100, but Eddins negotiated a much better deal. Every participant’s bag was full, including a bottle of Tito’s handmade vodka.
Those bags were hand-stuffed by the 16 volunteers, who included some of the Bryant High School girls volleyball team.
It is a tournament that believes in giving, and there were 53 door prizes plus Wilson travel bags and golf balls for the winners on both courses — Founders and Bear Den.
Bear Den winners were Fence Builders with a 53 — Blake Anderson, Chris Walker, Jason Bridges, Lyle Middleton and Roland Pennington. Founders was won with a 52 — Steve Cox, Stephen Cox, Weston Cox, Lee Brun and Bob Glover.
There also were Wilson drivers with head covers for the second-place teams and an assortment of other athletic gear. Wilson has long been a sponsor and continued in honor of John Bailey, a longtime employee and a member of the ASHOF board until his death.
The tournament ends with the John Bailey reception, and the ballroom was full of people and good cheer as the winners were announced and prizes handed out.
It is a competitive tournament, but a fun in the sun day.
Sports on 06/12/2018