Dave Peduzzi signed up for Greatest Golfer of the Valley last year on kind of a whim.
He doesn’t play a lot, but loves to compete.
He ended up giving himself a memory of a lifetime, and was all set to play again this August. He even paid for his spot.
But he now has to be out of town, and a better idea than getting a refund came up.
He wants to pay for someone else to get the experience that he got in 2012.
Greatest Golfer of the Valley is in Year 4.
It is still hosted by our friends at Farmers National Bank. They’ve been joined this year by Covelli Enterprises and Superior Beverage, as we’ve grown our lineup with a Scramble Challenge featuring Jason Kokrak. We’ve also bolstered our juniors component, which has its championship today.
And their funding is joined by our army of sponsors — Mark Thomas Ford, New Castle School of Trades, Sleepy Hollow, MyLoopCard golf and Stadium GM.
While also growing a competitive structure, we’re proud we’ve also grown a community.
That was apparent after the first year, and seeing Peduzzi’s gesture four years into this emphasizes that point.
“I would like to ask you a favor,” Dave, of Poland, wrote in an email last week.
“Can you use my entry fee [$100] to possibly give to a golfer that would want to play but they cannot afford the entry fee?”
That request was a hole-in-one of sorts.
I talked to Dave a bit more this past week.
“It was a tourney that I still talk about today. I have the little trophy on a shelf, and people will see it and talk about it.”
Never mind that Peduzzi was in the last men’s division and not the Open division, and won second place, not first.
“Competition is competition — whether you’re a scratch or 20-handicap player,” he said. “I played baseball at YSU, and went to bunch of events and places. This was my first golf event like this.”
He was very complimentary of how we ran the event — compliments we’ll gladly accept with the grace of Arnold Palmer walking down the 18th fairway at Augusta.
I sensed there was still something more — beyond a well-run event — that made him want to give $100 to a stranger. There was.
“I played my final round with Dan Horacek ...,” he said.
Bang. Dan’s a special guy. We’ve featured him plenty since last year. Cerebral palsy has had a lifelong effect on his walking. It’s a pretty pronounced limp. He’s never won a sporting event in his life. He had to give up playing competitive basketball by the sixth grade because the speed was no longer there.
Yet last year, at age 31, he finally won his first crown — besting 25 other golfers in the 15+ handicap division to earn a Greatest Golfer of the Valley title.
One of those golfers was Peduzzi.
“He’s an inspiration,” he said of Dan. “There are things we take for granted. You stop for a minute when you see Dan. I think about that weekend and him quite a bit.”
He first noticed Dan the opening day, and the limp, and the heat, and the walking ... and not a complaint from Dan.
“I saw him Saturday [on Day 2], and we wished each other luck. That night, it was clear we’d be playing with each other in the finals.”
Even for guys who like to compete, the Sunday final round at The Lake Club was tough on the players, as the scores showed. And it was tough on Dan and Dave.
“He had a few bad holes, and I just told him to hang in there, and he did the same for me when I struggled.”
They were tied going into Sunday. But Dan outlasted Dave in the end.
“I would have liked to have won,” Dave said. “But I was glad for him to win. I developed a nice friendship with Dan. That’s what I got out of the event.”
He even made the Horacek family Christmas-card list.
“With the economy the way it is, I thought maybe this would do for somebody what it did for me — someone who otherwise could not afford to get in. It’s a tournament I still talk about today. I would hope it could do the same for someone else.”
... And the gallery rose to its feet with that final shot.
With that request, I turn to you all. Email me.
Do you know someone who would love to play in the Greatest, and get out of it something similar to what Dave got out of it, but is a tad short on cash?
I would like for readers to suggest to me a golfer who fits such an outline.
It’s a Greatest gesture from a Greatest guy.
Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes e-mails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs, too, on vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.