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Rub of the Green

September 26, 2010

RUB OF THE GREEN: THGA tournaments include variety, long history

TERRE HAUTE — In days gone by, the Terre Haute Golf Association has always offered more than just a 72-hole stroke play tournament.

For example, top players in the tourney usually kept their sights on what score it would take to make what was always called, “The Feature Foursome.” This would mean that the low four players would be paired together for the final 18.

If a tie developed for the fourth position, those names would be placed in a hat and a blind draw would ensue. The final round in those days was held at Country Club of Terre Haute where a sizeable gallery would usually congregate.

The player with the low qualifying score was deemed “medalist” and rewarded with a trophy and a merchandise award.

In earlier days the city’s senior champion was determined by that 50 or older player who fired the low 72 hole total. I recall a player who would never sign up for the seniors’ competition even though he had passed the 50 mark.

He didn’t want his lady friend to know his age.

Some of his “so called” friends would slip around and submit his name without his knowledge. He won the “seniors” on more than one occasion.

He never learned who had exposed him and revealed his true age.

In addition, a city team championship was a part of the tourney. When a player signed up for the competition, he indicated which course or club he represented. A traveling trophy was presented to the professional at that course with individual awards going to the low four players with the best 72 hole totals.

A huge traveling trophy was presented to the city champ and another one went to the runner-up.  After Gene Verostko had won the champion’s traveling trophy three or four times, someone determined that whoever won that huge, four or five foot trophy the most times out of ten should get to keep it. Since Gene already had his name inscribed on it several times, they thought it should not be retired. Verostko settled the argument by taking the monstrosity out to the Elks Fort Harrison course and throwing it into the Wabash River.  Even when he had won it, he never took it home with him leaving it at the location where the city banquet was held, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.  The trophy was huge, but definitely not attractive.

One year, Roger Van Dyke, an outstanding player from Casey, Ill., finished third, one stroke out of second. He was overheard saying, “One shot certainly makes a big difference.”  He had watched the second place finisher load up the permanent and traveling runner-up trophies as well as awards for medalist and team championships and a merchandise certificate to boot.

Van Dyke would turn pro at a later date and on one occasion he scored a hole in one in the Buick Open and took home a new Buick for his efforts.

Besides being a prolific player, Roger has always taken a special interest in junior golf. He is and always has been a “class act.”

One thing is certain, Terre Haute Golf Association and its sponsors have consistently presented an outstanding golf tournament which would never take a “back seat” to any city tourney in the entire country.

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