By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
TWO OF MY favorite events every year took place this past week — The Herald-Tam O’Shanter Junior Golf Championships and the Erme Awards Dinner.
But both have undergone considerable change since their inception so many years ago.
The golf tournament was started by Herald Sports Editor Johnny Pepe and Tam O’Shanter Golf Course owner Jack Kerins way back in 1949 and is one of the longest running junior tournaments in the country.
While my mentor Johnny Pepe and my friend Jack Kerins are both deceased, the tournament lives on thanks to the graciousness of current Herald Publisher Sharon A. Sorg and the Kerins brothers, John and Rick, at Tamie.
When the tourney first began, the Shenango Valley Jaycees played a role as sponsor and for a few years I understand that it was a match-play final. Bob Wise of Sharon was the first winner in 1949. And the impact on him showed a few years back when Jack Kerins died and Bob sent me a letter of tribute for Jack concerning how much he did for junior golf in this area.
At one time there were more than 50 competitors each year, but the numbers are now down to about 20 or so. While it’s hard to perceive why more high school golfers don’t take part in the free event, there are a lot of things for kids to do today and in fact, if they know they can’t win, some just don’t want to play.
Still there is some top junior talent every year and on Friday it was a real shootout between 3-time winner Billy Colbert and Jacob Wilson, before Colbert prevailed in a playoff. (See photos on B-2)
It will be interesting to see if Colbert can win again next year to become only the 2nd 4-time champ, joining Mike Klaric III at that lofty position, or if Wilson or someone else can rise up and defeat him.
It is always a pleasure for me to follow the golfers during the tournament. While spectators aren’t permitted, being sports editor does have certain privileges.
It is also a pleasure for me to emcee the annual Erme Awards, which also have seen considerable change.
The awards — plaque and scholarship money — go to the top male and female senior basketball player in Mercer County each year.
They were first started many years ago by the late Mike Erme Jr. and are continued today by his son Mike Erme III.
They used to be presented at the annual Hoyle Banquet which was part of the prestigious Hoyle Tournament. But the tournament has gone the way of the typewriter and rotary phone.
Then the awards were presented at a dinner hosted by the Sharon Lions Club, which is now defunct as well. Luckily the Farrell Lions Club took over as host and now fetes the athletes every year. Steve Gurrera coordinates the dinner and while it’s small compared to the gala Hoyle Banquets, it still is meaningful to the players and their families.