News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Rub of the Green

May 2, 2009

Rub of the Green: Valley legend Gene Verostko was a man for the ages

TERRE HAUTE — For the first time in nearly seven decades the local golf scene will be without the persona of one of Terre Haute’s most distinguished athletes. Superbly talented Gene Verostko earned three varsity letters in each of four sports. He excelled in golf, baseball, basketball and football while a student at Gerstmeyer Technical High School.

After graduating from Tech, Gene served a stint in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. After being discharged from service, he soon became the dominant golfer in nearly every tournament he entered. Gene had once made the statement, “The first time I saw a golf ball flying through the air, I knew golf was the game for me.” That remark was certainly prophetic as he went on to win more that 150 golf tournaments, including 18 Terre Haute City Championships during a 25-year span. He was a charter member of Terre Haute Golf Association’s Hall of Fame.

On multiple occasions area businessmen approached Gene in regard to financing him on the professional golf circuit. Each time he refused. He would explain, “I had four children at that time. I felt my place was with my family, so I really never entertained the idea of playing golf for a living.” That’s not to say that Verostko’s considerable skills on a golf course were not noticed by some of pro golf’s “big guns.”

Several years ago, while playing in an exhibition at the Elks Fort Harrison course, Julius Boros and Cary Middlecoff, both big winners on the professional scene, could be overheard making statements such as, “Where did this guy come from? Who is this guy anyway?”

This writer observed his first pro tournament back in 1953, and not a single member of the professional tour was more impressive than Gene when it came to hitting a golf ball. I’ve never doubted that he could have been a big star had he turned professional. In addition to his prowess with a golf club, he was blessed with “movie star looks” and an athletic physique coupled with enough charisma for a dozen professionals.

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