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Greatest Scramble takes off

Published: Sun, July 14, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

If you read my column regularly, hopefully by this point you would agree that I try to write in an honest and straightforward manner. In that spirit, I’ll be upfront about this week’s column: It’s a plug for The Greatest. But a well-timed plug indeed.

Golf, as we all know, is an individual sport. Until all of a sudden it’s not anymore.

This past Monday I was invited to play in the Circle of Friends Golf Outing held at The Lake Club. It was a great day. I got to spend five great hours laughing with my brother, our friends Alex and Ron Zoldan, and our celebrity for the event, Boardman’s own John Greco of the Cleveland Browns. The weather cooperated. The course was in great shape. And a lot of worthwhile money was raised for a great cause.

But this was also the first time I got to experience firsthand the effect of Greatest 2013’s newest addition: The Miller 64 Scramble Challenge hosted by Jason Kokrak.

Continuing with that “honest” theme from above, I’ll admit that I wasn’t 100 percent sure this scramble idea would take off. The Greatest I understood. It’s an individual sport and we all want to see how we compete against the area’s best golfers.

But a scramble tournament? Where you have to “qualify” through a different scramble? I thought Todd Franko (the scientist behind the scenes pulling 15 different strings, simultaneously and at all times to make the Greatest what it is) had finally overextended himself.

I mean, scrambles have a hard enough time filling their own fields. And what scrambles would be qualifiers? And how are you going to track down the event coordinators to find out which team qualified? And what happens when the winning team says, “Give us a few weeks to decide if we can play?” And so on?

Fast forward from those conversations six months ago to where we are today and I’m happy to admit: Todd was right. And I was dead wrong.

It started, as everything else has with this, with Todd and his team at The Vindy. They immediately got the right people involved: the extremely generous Mr. Covelli, who helped bring back Kokrak, along with the always supportive Mr. Antonucci, who helped secure our title sponsor, Miller 64.

They promoted it beautifully in print and TV ads. They included a designated area in our Sunday page to qualified teams. And the momentum started growing.

Then, names like McCall, Doughton, Santisi, Pluchinsky, Fait, Barnes, Knepper, (Horne, Mansky, Hanysh and Woods — all one team) and Krichbaum started showing up on the winning teams, and the momentum hit “full steam ahead.”

Which brings me to Monday’s outing. I don’t know if it’s the thrill of having to “qualify” for the finals? Or the rarity of being able to compete as a team in golf? Or the fact the The Vindy plays it up so well? Or if it’s because of all the teams who we know have already qualified? But I’ll tell you what, when we pulled down the driveway and saw the “Miller 64 Scramble Challenge Qualifier” sign, I actually got a little more excited to play.

At the end of the day, I think my team and I were more excited to win the “golden tickets” to next months’ finals (admittedly on a technicality after the winning team declined the invitation) than we were for the second-place prize in the event. Which I think is pretty neat for an event in its first year.

Let the chatter continue!

Jonah Karzmer is a former golf professional who writes a Sunday golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time, he sells commercial insurance for Huntington Insurance and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at jonah.karzmer@huntington.com

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