Playing for the Plaid

Last weekend was Greatest Golfer of the Valley 3.0 and I wanted to thank The Vindicator, the sponsors who made last week possible, and all of the contestants who came out and gave it their all.

Congratulations to Anthony Conn for his successful defense and to the other seven well-deserving flight winners. I am very proud to have played and finished second in the Open Division, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

So where do we go from here?

Our major tournament is over; the days are getting shorter; school is back in session; and the Canfield Fair is here to usher in the end of summer.

For all of us too old to play high school golf, the season must be over right? Ah, not so fast.

You probably don’t know that today is actually my favorite day of the year, and it’s a pleasure for me to get to tell you why.

Thirteen years ago, Mark and Mike Sahli, Boardman graduates with strong ties to the Mahoning Valley, decided they wanted to organize a little scramble for their friends and families.

Sunday of Labor Day weekend was a good date. Mill Creek was the course. And in their infinite wisdom and creativity, Mark and Mike decided to name the event The M&M.

That first year saw 32 contestants on eight teams compete My future brother-in-law, Justin Gable, and his team brought it home in year one.

I was a few years younger than Mark in high school, and even though I thought I would fall in the “friends” category, I guess my invite got lost in the mail ... for the first five years (but who kept track?).

Over the next few years, the tournament grew rapidly. By 2002, there were tournament sponsors and local charity donations. In 2003, Mark and Mike created their own “Jacket Ceremony” when they went out and bought four of the ugliest plaid jackets you could ever imagine.

By the time my first invite came in 2004, the format had switched from tee times to a shotgun start and the field was maxed out at 144 players. My team, made up of myself and three friends from high school and college (Mike Drozda, Joe Erjavic, and Ron Voytko) has competed every year since 2004.

We were lucky enough to win the event in 2005 (the jackets are much better looking when they’re yours for a year).

We plan on winning the event again today. And we don’t plan on missing the event any time soon.

But what makes The M&M so much fun?

Well, obviously there’s the golf.

A few adult beverages.

The occasional side bet with Team Zarlenga.

The crazy team outfits that, somehow, get crazier year after year.

The trash talk.

The flip-cup tables on the course.

The “Augusta-Like” roars that spring up throughout the day.

The lunch from Scarsellas after.

And of course, the jacket ceremony at the awards dinner.

But there’s more to it than just the fun that day. It’s a chance to see old friends.

This year, Mark expects players from over 12 states and all across the state of Ohio.

It’s a chance to raise money for local charities. This year, Mark expects to have more than 45 tournament sponsors and top last year’s donations of $2,000 to Akron Children’s Hospital and $1,000 to Hospice of the Valley.

To date, the M&M has donated more than $13,000 to local charities.

Jonah Karzmer is a former player at YSU and a member at The Lake Club. He works in insurance when not writing a golf column Sundays in The Vindicator. Email him at

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