News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 4, 2009

Rub of the Green: Looking back at nearly 90 years of Kaperak excellence in Indiana, Illinois golf

By Bob Arnett

TERRE HAUTE — For nearly 90 years the surname “KAPERAK” has signified legendary golfers who have made their marks in competition in Indiana as well as Illinois.

Mike Kaperak caddied at the Country Club of Terre Haute as a youngster. Later, as a talented player, he went on to win two Terre Haute City Golf Championships. In the mid-1940s Mike was named the head professional at Rea Park Golf Course and relinquished his amateur standing.

Mike’s younger brother, George, followed in Mike’s footsteps as he, too, caddied at Allendale and later captured two city stroke play titles of his own as well as three city match play championships. George also claimed a number of other amateur victories.

It was in the 1953 Casey (Ill.) Open that George won the amateur division and Mike took first place among the professionals. This tourney would at times attract 300 players who could play their 18 hole rounds on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Dozens of Terre Haute golfers have routinely streamed to Casey for this annual event.

To say that the Casey Open was a popular tournament would be a masterpiece of understatement, and for the Kaperak brothers to annex both the amateur and professional divisions was icing on the cake. Mike and George hosted a party that lasted into the “wee hours” at the conclusion of play.

Mike and George Kaperak were two of eight brothers. Frank, Ted and Paul played golf on a semi-regular basis although not at a level demonstrated by George and Mike. Steve, Pete and John played occasionally.

Since George Kaperak was a bachelor and Mike and his wife, Louise, had no children, it would be up to another brother, Frank, to keep alive the Kaperak legacy of outstanding golfers. Frank and his wife, Eleanor, were parents of Joe, Frank Jr., Dennis, Teddy and Tina. Dennis has three children, James, Jessica and Kalea. Both James and Jessica are Terre Haute North students who play on North’s boys’ and girls’ golf teams respectively.

Teddy Kaperak’s uncle Ted got his nephew started in golf when he was nine years old. Later, his brother, Frank Jr., who at one time worked for his uncle Mike in the Rea Park pro shop, would take over his brother’s golfing education. By that time Frank, Jr. had turned professional and he had assumed the professional’s duties at Rea Park.

Teddy recalls, “My brother, Frank, could always get my swing straightened out when I was having problems. He was an excellent teacher. After he passed away, I’ve been pretty much on my own.” Teddy readily admits, “I wasn’t much of a player throughout high school, although I did win the Warren Artz Tournament when I was in my teens.”

After that it was “off to the races” for Teddy Kaperak. He won his first Terre Haute City Championship in 1983 and five more would follow. He recalls, “My win in ’86 is most memorable since it came against a great player, Dave McCampbell.”

Teddy has won a pair of club championships at Hulman Links and two more at the former Elks Fort Harrison County Club. All four of these were won after Kaperak’s 50th birthday. All Indiana club champions are invited to play in the Tournament of Champions at Fox Prairie Golf Club where Teddy has finished first and second in recent years. It appears that his skills on the golf course have not dulled with age.

Players in Indiana Golf Association events are awarded points for top finishes in tournaments throughout the season. Those who earn the most points qualify to play in the Challenge Cup, which pits top amateurs against the best professionals. In these matches Teddy has won one match, tied six and lost one.

Another IGA tournament is available to those earning enough points to enter the coveted IGA Championship held each year on one of Indiana’s most outstanding courses. Kaperak has been invited to three of these events where play is in two divisions, 54-years-and-under and 55-and-over.

At the age of 53, Teddy won the 54-and-under title with a one under par effort at Bridgewater Country Club in Carmel. Ted recalls, “I didn’t play very well when I was 54, but I told the officials ‘I will be back to win the 55-and-over division next year’.” True to his words, Kaperak unloaded a six under par effort to win at one of the Midwest’s hardest courses, Sycamore Hills at Fort Wayne.

To answer the question, what have you done recently, Teddy can point to a second place tie in the 2009 Indiana Senior Open played at Pine Valley. Teddy, now at the age of 57, has won three of the six Terre Haute Senior Championships in which he has competed.

Low scores include 64s at Rea Park, Hulman Links, and River Bend at The Landing and a 63 at Brazil’s Forest Park. Teddy also has played Rea Park’s front side in 30 strokes, one shot higher that his uncle George’s 29 of long ago. Kaperak has scored eight holes-in-one, four of which were made in tournaments.

Teddy also remembers, “Back in 1970 I made 18 eagles, nine of those on par 4s and seven of which were putted into the cup.” Asked about his “all time ringer score,” Ted answered, “thirty under par for a 42 for 18 holes at Rea Park.”

Having been acquainted with Teddy Kaperak from his early teens, I can attest that he certainly deserves all the accolades he has earned on golf courses throughout Indiana. His devotion to practice has always been one of his strong suits. Hitting practice balls and putting from daylight to dark have never been a challenge to Ted Kaperak.

Ted has teamed with Gary Verostko to win two-man tournaments in Brazil and Terre Haute on three separate occasions. Gary, the oldest son of Gene and Joanne Verostko has won the Bloomington (Ind.) senior title three times and the club championship at Bloomington Country Club twice. Ted and Gary can certainly combine for a formidable tandem with two of Terre Haute’s most recognizable names in golf, those being Kaperak and Verostko.

But wait a minute. There’s more to this story.

In the event you might think local golf courses are running out of Kaperaks, you could be mistaken. After all, Dennis Kaperak’s three children are not just casual golfers. Less than a week ago, James recorded a nifty 67 at River Bend at The Landing. With Jessie playing for North Vigo and seven-year old Kalea owning her own set of golf clubs, it may be some time before the Kaperak name fails to grace the sports section of the Terre Haute Tribune Star.

• Ed Grayless, No. 1 assistant to Ryan Klopfenstein, wants the city’s top players to put the Mini City Tourney on their schedules. The highly popular event is slated for July 11 and 12. Call Hulman Links at (812) 877-2096.

• The Breakfast Optimist Club Brazil Open Junior Golf Tourney will be played Monday, July 13 at Forest Park. Entry fee is $20, which includes lunch, goody bag, all day snacks, pizza and pool party for family and friends. For further particulars call John Tribble at (812) 442-5681.

• Kent “Cosmo” Robertson has assumed the “most improved” distinction at River Bend at The Landing. The big hitter has put together a number of solid rounds in the 70s with a game that gets better all the time.

n Jack Myers first shot his age 11 years ago, a smooth 65 from the regulation tees at Elks Fort Harrison Country Club. A couple of weeks ago he bettered his age by seven shots with a nifty 69 from senior tees. Some players won’t allow father time to dictate to them. Myers is certainly one who fails to pay attention to the calendar.

• TIP OF THE WEEK: Any time you create too much pressure with your hands, your forearms will have the tendency to become stiff, and this may impede your swing. Keep the left arm straight, but relaxed. Keep your right hand grip relaxed (opposite for lefties).

Keep your head down and your shoestrings tied. We’ll be back.

Vigo County Golf Leagues

First Financial Rea Park Monday Ladies 9-hole — Standings: Shepard’s Gas 362, VFW No. 1 Ladies Auxiliary 311, Bratt Animal Hospital 270, VFW No. 2 Ladies Auxiliary 257. Low gross: Kay Gard 48. Low net: Carol Mowbray and Patsy Miller 36. Chip-in: Verla Talkington (13), Mary Hoy (17). Play of day: Gard, Hoy, Miller.

Paitson’s Eastend Ladies — Standings: Otis Elevator 335, Natalie’s Consignment Furniture 334, Sandy’s Touch of Magic 332, Coaches Corner 327, Turner Coach 324, Krock Racing 306, Baesler’s Market 302, Advanced Chiropractic 300. Low gross: Mary Hoy and Marge Kintz 37. Low net: Jan Schnurple 23. Play of day: Los Casassa and Jimma Lou Comer. Chip-ins: Sue Tipton (6, 7).

Ft Harrison Lady's 9-hole — Low gross: Darby Gugliemetti. Low net: Vivian Niemeyer. Low putts: Kathy Pusich. Play of day: Pusich, Georgette Arnold. Helen Rukl.

Rea Park Wednesday Evening Ladies — Standings (July 1): Meyer-Petty 15, Cannon-Snow 15, Swalls-Hiatt 15, Mann-Bocard 15, Hamilton-M.Johnson 14, Padgett-Pair 14, Durand-Atterson 13, Honselman-Luttrell 13, McCord-Price 12, Clements-Harden 12, Lanke-T.Johnson 9, Hyde-Rusk 8, Horrall-Ugo-8, Mozley-Bedwell-5. Low gross: Pat Cannon 38. Low net: Cannon 32. Birdies: Linda Price (8), Cannon (1, 2), Sharon Horrall (9), Stephanie Meyer (6).

Terre Haute Savings Bank Senior Men — National Division standings: SMC 334, Lough Bros. 316, Page’s Market 314, Paitson Bros. 312, Fore Seasons Golf Complex 312, Pizza Hut 292, TH Savings Bank 285, Complete Kitchen and Bath 275. Low gross: Terry Liffick and Fred Keenan 37. Low net: Jim Thompson 28. American Division standings: Gurman Container 343, Poplar Flower Shop 336, Spring Clean Car Wash 319, VFW No. 972 311, Baesler’s Market 306, Tabco 284, Salt of the Earth 236. Low gross: Elmer Grizzel and David Shirley 42. Low net: Bill Hawk 30.

Mark’s Par Three Senior Men — Standings (Second half): C&E; Environmental and Dew Drop Inn 58, Watts Farms 50, Tabco 48, Sycamore Chevrolet 40, Old National Trust 38, Mattingly Collision and Vigo Bowl 30. Low gross: Dave Hart and Dennis Hayes 36. Low net: Hayes 26. Closest to pin: Ed Bard (9). Longest drive: Don McCullough (2). Longest putt: Charlie Funk (1).

Idle Creek Home Builders Tuesday Evening — Low gross: Steve Scheid 41. Low net: Fred Lamb and John Eller 33. Longest drive: Smith (13). Closest to pin: Jack Simpson (12), Brian Cottom (16).

Idle Creek Ladies Tuesday Morning Scramble — First place team: Lora Snyder, Cathy Brannen, Peggy Burlison 41. Second place team: Monica Hawkins, Mary Brannen, Susie Colligan 49. Longest putt: C.Brannen (11). Closest to pin: Candy Lovvron (12), Burlison (16).

Idle Creek Terminal Sports and Spirits Wednesday Evening — First place team: Dan Eisen and Mitch Love 30. Second place team: Zach Wilhoyte and Cliff Carrithers 31. Closest to pin: Dave Rowlett (12, 16).

Rea Park Women’s Tuesday 18-hole — Low gross: Pat Cannon 86. Low net: Susie Clements and Terry Mahalek 65. Birdies: Clements (3), Elizabeth Newton (16). Chip-ins: Lori Ugo (1), Clements (3), Mahalek (4), Shelva Gaither (7), Kathy Atterson (13), Madonna Johnson (17), Beth Lowe (18).