Divots - WACO Open conducted impressively

August 17, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

Last week was my first time covering the WACO Open, which held its 20th anniversary tourney, beginning with the juniors and ending with the two-day championship Sunday. I've been to a few tournaments over the years as a reporter on both the amateur and professional levels. I came away impressed.

It was an amateur event conducted professionally. There were spectator tents and a leaderboard Saturday. Sunday had the addition of remote scoring for each threesome as everyone kept up on the progress of the round as it happened.

Where else can a tournament director have such a capable staff that he can go out in the middle of the schedule of the Open and play 18 holes himself?

Williamsport's Rod Steiner, the tourney director since its inception, was able to do just that. He won't tell you he didn't play well (79-84 for 153), but he also won't tell you that there had to be other things on his mind.


"The first three years I couldn't play in the tournament because I had to do everything," Steiner said. "As the tournament kept gaining popularity with golfers, more and more volunteers came forth."

Steiner can carry a special feeling within himself for the success of the WACO, which helps strengthen junior golf throughout the area.

"It was a dream starting this tournament because junior golf wasn't real strong back then," Steiner said. "And it has kept getting better because of the exposure. One of the big reasons has been The Herald-Mail's support and coverage."

When Steiner is on the course, he falls back on 16-year old Chris Martin, a Beaver Creek employee and Williamsport High golfer, who takes time away from the club work schedule to do the WACO.

"Chris is my assistant chairman and right-hand man," Steiner said. "He's a great kid, along with all the volunteers."

Volunteers working the WACO included Dixie McNaney, Barb Rulewich, Kathy Klein, Ginny Wood, Vicki Grimm, Kelli Deiterich, Granis Dixon, Suzi Imes, Mary Karavias and Garnetta Gruber (scoring tent); Cassie Weaver (starter); Harry Davis, Jim Ward and Diana Steiner (scoreboard); Adam Ward, Ryan Acre, John Hersh, Carol Crabtree, Cindy Joiner and Steve Greathead (remote scores) along with the Beaver Creek staff that includes Mark Weber, Tim and Al Armstrong, Rod North, Rod Alder and Dick Short.

Tournament jottings

Black Rock pro Dirk Schultz and Holly Hills assistant pro Jody Rokisky will be heading to Las Vegas in November for the Golfweek-Callaway Pro/Amateur scratch tournament.

Schultz and his amateur partner, Dick Roulette of Hagerstown, and Rokisky and his partner, John Deeley of Damascus, shot 2-man best ball gross 66s at Whiskey Creek in Ijamsville, Md., to qualify for the event, to be played at Stallion Mountain in Las Vegas, which carries a $50,000 purse.

Glade Valley Golf Club in Walkersville, Md., held the first Village Tavern Memorial Tournament, named for Dennis Murray, who died in April. Owner of the Village Tavern, Murray was a longtime member of Glade Valley. The tournament raised over $5,000 for local charities including the Walkersville Red Cross, Walkersville Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity. Tourney winners were Cliff Harden, Garrett Vyborny, Matt Hensel and Gilbert Oldach, shooting a team best-ball 59.

Today marks the beginning of two tournament events for area golfers.

Jeff Thoreson of Clustered Spires in Frederick, Md., tees off in the first of two days of stroke play in the Maryland State Golf Association Men's Mid-Amateur at Hayfields in Hunt Valley, Md. The top 60 scores from Monday return Tuesday for the final round.

The USGA Men's Amateur tees off in Pittsburgh and Jimmy Cunningham, of Walkersville, Md., will be in the stroke play field for 36 holes, hoping to move on to match play.

Cunningham starts Monday at 8:02 a.m. on the Pittsburgh Field Club course and then goes off Tuesday at 1:02 at fabled Oakmont Country Club.

The 2002 Men's Amateur winner was Ricky Barnes, now one of the young guns on the PGA Tour.

The 4th Women's Golf Challenge at Black Rock will be held Sept. 18, a one-day event with portions of the proceeds going to the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County. It's a four-person scramble event. Call the Chamber of Commerce for additional info at 301-739-1278.

Calling on area coaches

Not only did Friday signal the beginning of scholastic football practices in Maryland, it also marked the beginning of the prep golf season.

Elsewhere in the Tri-State area, schools have already begun their schedule.

Here's a reminder to area golf coaches to call in your results nightly to us. You can reach us by dialing 1-800-626-6397 by 11 p.m.

You can also send scores via e-mail to, with the same deadline in mind.

Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His Divots column appears every other Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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