Greatest Golfer of the Valley Tourney at The Lake Club in Poland.
Inaugural champs back for more in a larger field
By Nick Shook
The greatest junior golfers of the Mahoning Valley occupied most of the month of July; now it’s time for the adults to take their turn on the links.
The Vindicator’s Greatest Golfer of the Valley tournament, sponsored by Farmer’s National Bank, Superior Beverage, Mark Thomas Ford and Cole Valley Cadillac, will tee-off with Friday’s qualifying rounds.
Mill Creek Golf Course will host the qualifiers for the Men’s Open, second and third divisions, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Reserve Run Golf Course will host the Men’s fourth, Ladies, Seniors and Super Seniors divisions, beginning at 10 a.m.
In the inaugural Greatest Golfer of the Valley tournament last August, Mike Porter of Canfield shot a 3-over-par 73 in the final round and emerged as the champion. Porter says his friends ribbed him about the title of Greatest Golfer of the Valley.
“It was a lot of fun,” Porter said. “It was fun to play against friends. For a year I had to live with that ‘Greatest’ tag.”
Porter, 36, owns a magazine and book wholesale distribution agency and frequently plays at Tippecanoe Country Club. An increase in popularity and a format change has Porter excited to return to defend his 2010 title. A sibling rivalry within the tournament adds a little extra incentive, too. Porter’s brother, Scott, will look to overtake his sibling in the tournament after not participating in the inaugural tournament in 2010.
“I’m looking forward to it, because it seems like the field is a little deeper, a little bigger,” Porter said. “They changed it to threesomes which is very nice, and I also get to play against my brother this year and a couple of friends that I normally play a lot of golf with.
“The tournament has definitely grown because the publicity is good and everybody had fun last year. I also think it’s nice to change the venue three days in a row.”
For those that want to follow the defending champion on his quest to win the 2011 title, Porter tees off at Mill Creek on Friday at 10 a.m.
When hard-working men reach the wise age of retirement, they tend to trade in their collared shirts and ties for polo shirts, khaki pants and the beautiful greens of golf courses. The best seniors of the Valley will again take to the links on Friday at Reserve Run. Inaugural champion Bob Leonard returns to defend his title after shooting a final round of 79 in 2010.
“It was a great honor to win the tournament,” Leonard said, “especially against the guys I played with because they were really good golfers.”
Leonard, a retiree after nearly 40 years of work at Delphi, frequently plays with his former co-workers at various courses around the Mahoning Valley. The 64-year-old golfer’s strategy is simple.
“Try to take it easy, enjoy it and keep the big numbers off of the scorecard,” Leonard said.
“If the putts go in, they go in. If not, then just enjoy yourself. Let the putts fall where they may.”
Leonard, a resident of Canfield, will focus on parlaying his strengths into another possible title, beginning with his Friday tee time of 10:48 a.m.
“My tee shots and putting are my strengths,” Leonard said. “I just have to remember to hit through the ball.”
Qualifying action shifts to Youngstown Country Club on Saturday for the Men’s Open, second and Super Seniors division, while the third, fourth, Ladies and Seniors divisions will play at Tippecanoe Country Club.
In the Men’s Open division, the top 15 players will advance to the finals on Sunday at The Lake Club.
The top 12 players from divisions two and three each will advance to the finals.
The top six players from each remaining division (four, Ladies, Seniors and Super Seniors) will also advance to the finals, which will begin at 9 a.m.
For more information, log on to vindy.com to view complete tournament rules and tee times.