News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Rub of the Green

June 5, 2011

RUB OF THE GREEN: Not all golfers display their trophies

TERRE HAUTE — Back in the “old days,” let’s say the 1940s, most of the time when you won something in a golf tournament your prize came in the form of a trophy. That was it, just a dust catcher. Later, merchandise prizes were added.

Some trophies were ornate with golf statues and eagles adorning them. Some were made of plastic and metal while others were wood. Regardless of the various types of construction, they represented the results of your labors on a hot golf course.

At times your trophy would come in the form of a plaque. Players could “dress up” walls especially if they wanted to hide blemishes such as nail holes.

One prominent player really enjoyed winning his trophies and plaques. I overheard another player express the danger he felt when entering the trophy man’s house. He said, “I’ve always been afraid that one of his walls would give way and dozens of trophies and plaques would come cascading down on me and I’d be crushed. The trophies were referred to as “iron men” by the prolific collector who was an excellent player and a big hitter.

Some tournaments didn’t have a trophy for the winner, rather than that, additional merchandise was provided. This pleased most players, but when this occurred and affected the trophy collector, you would always hear a plaintive cry, “Where’s my iron man?”

One player who operated in reverse to the trophy hoarder was Gene Verostko. In one tourney he had won two large trophies, one for medalist honors and one for winning the tournament. On his way out the driveway he noticed a couple of youngsters walking across the practice range. He called out to them and he presented each with a trophy. They were elated.

Later in his golfing career he would take his trophies back to McMillan’s Sporting Goods and trade them in for clothes for his offspring. Not that they needed the clothes. Gene had a good job. What he won on the golf course added up to a sizable bonus.

This writer saw only two trophies in Verostko’s house during all the years I knew him. Each was a trophy given for medalist honors in the Indiana State Amateur Golf Tourney. To win each of those he had beaten the best golfers in Indiana.

It has always appeared that a trophy was as good as its functional value. In other words if the trophy was part of a clock, an ashtray (back when smoking was allowed), an engraved money clip, a portable radio, a pen set or a desk lamp, then you had something you could use. A pen set was always useful.

Often there are members of a family who like to keep the awards. Mothers, grandmothers, aunts and in-laws are often happy recipients of relatives’ accomplishments in various tournaments.    

One thing for sure, trophies have been around for a long time, and it is doubtful they will go the way of one dollar green fees anytime soon.

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With the golf industry figured as a 76 billion dollar enterprise, it’s simple to understand why many who enjoy the sport would like to make a career out of some facet of the game.

The Golf Academy of America is situated at six different locations which include San Diego CA, Phoenix AZ. Myrtle Beach NC and Orlando FL.

Several Terre Hauteans have earned associate degrees in golf course operation and management by completing 16 months of training at one of the academy locations.

John Trierweiler, a standout golfer for Terre Haute North during his high school days, is working toward his license as an assistant under the supervision of Steve Miller at Maryland National Golf Club located near Frederick MD.

Jake Peacock, Matt Cain and Luke Blank are at Victoria National as they continue work toward their respective licenses. Jake Peacock was a West Vigo player and Luke Blank played for Terre Haute North.

You would expect Cain, another talented North golfer, to choose some form of the golf business. His father is the greenskeeper at Forest Park Golf Course in Brazil IN. His grandfather Steuben Cain, owned and operated Stu’s Golf Course and Driving Range for many years. His mother, Wendy, has been one of the city’s premier players and her father, Jim Burland was one of Terre Haute’s best, on and off the golf course.

Aaron Rutenberg has also graduated from the Academy.

We will keep you informed regarding their progress.        

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Junior Sumner assembled his troops for a trip to Ft. Myers where the action was located at The Plantation, Lexington Country Club and Miramar Lakes as well as Shadowwood North and South.

Included were: Tim Tennant, Bill Doan, Jr., Mark Roman, Jim Nicoson, Herb McConnell, Brian Livingston, Gary Turner. Dave “Jaws” Jozwiak, Ray Sumner, Sr., Steve Heck, Doug Wood, Vic Everhart, Marlon Nasser, and Dave Storm.

At the end of play it was Bill, Doan, Jr. and Tim Tennant in a dead heat for medalist honors.

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With many local divot diggers heading for Lawrenceville this weekend, several stories come to mind. Playing in the second annual Lawrenceville Open, I noticed the name of Bob Goalby who finished second in the first tournament. Who knew he would later win The Masters?

On another occasion Kenny Bosc was taking practice swings on a tee box when the clubhead came in too low and a long, thick, muddy divot was dislodged. It flew directly at Bill Doan, Sr. hit hi in the chest and stuck to his new white golf shirt. After Doan looked at Bosc and Kenny looked mortified, Bill peeled off the offending missile, placed it back on the ground, stepped on it and everyone went about his business.

An incident such as this is usually met with gales of laughter. This one was not although the chuckles were difficult to stifle. Doan finished in a tie for the championship and Bosc went onto win a pair of Lawrenceville Opens.

It’s difficult to forget a course where a player has had a reasonable amount of success.

Way back in 1958 a still thin Terre Haute golfer traveled to Lawrenceville C.C. to take part in a pro-am tournament. The Terre Haute player stumbled to a five over par 41 on the front before beginning the backside birdie, birdie, hole-in-one, birdie to get back to even par.

Some golf stories end well, many do not.

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Tip of the week — One word defines the outstanding player and that is “patience.” It does no earthly good to allow your temper to get the upper hand. The player who can overcome the “rough spots” will usually come out on top.

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

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