THERE AREN’T many things that are free in this life, but that’s only one of the reasons the annual Herald-Tam O’Shanter Junior Golf Championship is so special.
It is an opportunity for any boy and girl to play free golf at a premier course, whether they have a chance to win the prestigious tourney title or not.
The event is open to any boy or girl, who doesn’t reach his or her 18th birthday by Sept. 1 and lives or goes to school in the Shenango Valley or Brookfield. It was started in 1949 as a collaboration between Tamie owner Jack Kerins and Herald Sports Editor Johnny Pepe.
Although both are deceased, the tournament continues on thanks to the Kerins family and Herald Publisher Sharon Sorg. It is believed to be the longest consecutive junior event of its kind in the United States.
Applications for the tournament, which will be held June 17-18, are available at the course on the Web site at www.tamoshanterpa.com.
While the premise of the event — to offer a chance for youngster to play free golf and have fun — remains the same, there is also a chance for winners to earn a special place in golf history in the Shenango Valley.
Many of the past champions have gone on to careers in the sport as club pros. Two-time champion Pat Rielly (1951 & 1952) went on to become the President of the PGA of America.
There is a chance to see history made this year as Hickory High golf standout Billy Colbert seeks his fourth title. The only other four-time champion was former Kennedy Catholic star Michael Klaric III.
But winning even one title usually doesn’t come easily. Last year Colbert won a sudden-death playoff with Jacob Wilson, a Kennedy Catholic High player. The two could go head-to-head again this year, with several others in the mix as well.
Three-time champions are Colbert, Bob Thomas (1961-62-63) and Dave Chuba (1981-83-84).
Grabbing a pair of crowns were: Rielly, Andy Klutcher (1967-69), John Zebroski (1972-73), Dennis Dolci (1976-78), Brent Blaus (1987-88), Lew Rosa (1992-93), Pete Sirianni Jr. (1996-97), Mike Kasula (1998-99) and Dante Vetica (2009-2010).
ä I’m looking forward to the 15th anniversary celebration of The First Tee of Sharon on June 30 at Buhl Farm Golf Course, home to the First Tee facility.
That building was one of the first of its kind in the country and a prototype for others in the national program which teaches youngsters golf and life skills.
Golf pro John Cook, who helped kick off the program at its official opening in 1999, will be back. John is the nephew of The First Tee of Sharon Director Carole Barker and son of Carole’s twin sister Lyda.
John will conduct a golf clinic for kids and adults at 11 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies and autograph signings.
Mark that date on your calendar for a special day. John, who plays on the Champions Tour, is also a golf analyst on The Golf Channel. He is extremely personable and puts on a terrific clinic.
Lynn Saternow is sports editor of The Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com