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Honza has made Junior Golf Award Banquet special

By Bob West
News Golf Writer

Kudos to Jerry Honza, the Executive Director of the First Tee of the Golden Triangle, for his efforts in making the annual Babe Didrikson Zaharias Junior Golfer of the Year Awards banquet a special and unique happening. Last Tuesday, they held banquet No. 5 at the Montagne Center and, as usual, it was a memorable night for all involved.
Not only has Honza come up with something that provides high school golfers an awards event similar to those held for football and basketball players, he’s given junior golfers reasons to think of Babe Zaharias as more than just a name on a local golf course. Every year at the banquet, W.L. Pate, the president of the Babe Zaharias Foundation, reminds the nominees who the Babe was and what she achieved.
Beyond the history lesson on Zaharias, Honza spices up the evening with answers from each of the finalists on a questionnaire that asks them to list their favorite iconic moment in golf history, who they would most like to be paired with in a dream foursome and a fact about them nobody else knows.
Each of the nominees is given an impressive introduction by Honza. Then, as he or she is coming to the front of the room, Honza passes along their answers. It’s really good and entertaining stuff.
For instance, PN-G’s Brynna Bailey, who shares June 16 as a birthday with a certain golf writer, revealed that she sucked her thumb until she was eight years old. Ozen’s Denise Cardenas informed that she sleeps with a teddy bear every night. Bridge City’s Connor Guillotte passed along that he’s a certified scuba diver.
The answers that most intrigued me were the current or former golfers who were selected for the dream foursome. I guessed correctly that Jordan Spieth would be mentioned most often and he was. Spieth was listed by seven of the 14 players. Somewhat surprisingly, in light of all his problems the past few years, Tiger Woods was second with five mentions. Jack Nicklaus was third with four.
Also fascinating were the iconic moments that were listed. I asked Honza his favorites on the list and he picked a top three. They were:
• Ben Crenshaw’s emotional victory at the 1995 Masters the week his long time instructor, Harvey Penick, passed away.
• Tiger’s famously impossible chip-in from behind the 16th green in the 2005 Masters.
• Spieth’s victory in the 2015 Masters.
Two players, meanwhile, proved to be deep thinkers and socially aware when it came to the iconic moment.
One listed Augusta National allowing female members in 2012 and the other singled out the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of handicapped golfer Casey Martin being able to use a riding cart in PGA Tour events.
In case you missed it, the 2015 winners were as follows:
• Brittany Leatherwood of Nederland for Girls Leadership and Character.
• Bridge City’s Connor Guillotte and PN-G’s Brandon Soileau as co-winners for Boys Leadership and Character.
• PN-G sophomore Karlei Hemler for Girls Player of the Year.
• PN-G senior Braden Bailey for Boys Player of the Year. Bailey won the award for a record third time.
Also singled out at the banquet were long time LC-M golf coach Vicki Castino, who is retiring, and Babe Zaharias pro Ed Campbell. For Campbell, May 19 was a unique daily double. It was his 77th birthday and 50th anniversary as a PGA professional.
The grand finale was Honza blindsiding the author of this column, first with words from Braden Bailey, a retirement card and gift certificate. Honza then produced a video specially done for the event by Jim Nantz of CBS sports.
Jim and I, as many of you know, go way back. His words on that video were humbling and priceless. If you are interested, the video is posted on The First Tee of the Golden Triangle’s Facebook site.
CHIP SHOTS: Hemler continued her recent winning ways, rallying from seven shots behind to win the USSSA/Mizuno Battle at the Lake 2 at The National in Westlake, La. After opening with an 82 in the rain on Saturday, Hemler fired a closing 73 for a 36-hole score of 155 to win by four shots over Brook Tyree of Sulphur . . . After missing the cut by two strokes at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in Fort Worth, and eying a dicey weather forecast for the latter part of this week in Dallas, Chris Stroud opted to withdraw from the AT&T Byron Nelson. Stroud left Tuesday with his family and former Lamar golf coach Brian White to spend a week of intense practice in Sea Island, Ga. He plans to play next week in Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio . . . Three teams tied for first place in the Babe Zaharias DogFight. Finishing at 16 points was the team of Jay Hampson, Carl Certa, Gary Anderson and Ray Gallier, the foursome of Ed Hetzel, Bill Jones, Bob Byerly and Ralph Childress and the team of Earl Richard, Robert Stansbury, Pete Reobroi and Harold Wilkinson. Closest to the pin winners were Gary Whitfill (No. 2), Jones (No. 7), Richard (No. 12) and Lee Bertrand (No. 15) . . . The Senior Game at The Babe was played in a select drive, all points count format. The winning team of Charles Leard, Bob Moore and Larry Rogers finished with 24 points. Second at plus 21 was the threesome of Cap Hollier, Dwain Morrison and Ben Thornton. Closest to the pin winners were Rick Pritchett (No. 2) and Moore (No. 12) . . . The Super Saturday Game was played in a 2 ball format. On the front, the team of Craig Fontenot, Carl Certa, Don MacNeil and Chris Ward won with minus 4. The back was won with plus 1 by the team of Raymond Darbonne, Larry Thompson, Charles Leard and Reobroi . . . The Senior 50 Plus Game at The Babe was played in a best 2-ball format. On the front, the team of Hollier, P.Y. Young, Dillard Darbonne and Robert Lynch won with minus 2. The back was taken at even par by the foursome of Randy Monk, J.C. Lee, Charles Huckaby and L. Benoit . . . The team of Kirk Roccaforte, Andy Meshwere, Jerry Jones and Gerald Robinson shot 56 to win the Bridge City Strutters Scramble played at Babe Zaharias. Robinson was the long drive winner on No. 18, while Greg Guillotte took closest to the pin.
Golf news should be faxed to 724-6854 or e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net.

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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