Here’s some of the Greatest memories
Last week, Vindicator editor Todd Franko gave me the idea for a Top 10 list so I thought it would be fun to remember some of my fondest non-column memories from my time associated with the Vindy and The Greatest (in somewhat chronological order).
Number 10 — The Greatest Holes of the Valley Blog. I don’t know how it initially started, but this was the beginning of my writing with The Vindicator. Visiting local courses and writing about some of my favorite holes was a great way for me to start sharing my thoughts on local golf.
Number 9 — The first Greatest Golfer of the Valley Tournament. The open division saw a final round duel between two Mahoning Valley greats: Dick Marlowe and Michael Porter. That first conclusion at The Lake Club was the beginning of something special.
Number 8 — My Jerry McGee conversations at The Lake Club. One of my first “local legend profiles,” Jerry and I met for lunch at The Lake Club for some material. Two plus hours later, I had sore abs and frozen cheeks from laughing so hard. A fraction of our discussion made the column. The rest remains an incredible memory that, when thought of, still makes me laugh out loud. Thank you, Jerry, for sharing your stories with me. And more importantly, for your friendship over the years.
Number 7 — Mill Creek Day 1. No particular year comes to mind, just the overall atmosphere on day 1 of The Greatest. From the early jitters to the mid-day conversations between teeing waves, to the post-round drinks telling “remember when” stories dating 30-plus years. Uncle Milty is a staple. As are hours worth of laughs.
Number 6 — Tournament nerves. Having helped organize the event after working as a club pro for a few years, and not having my amateur status officially re-instated, I didn’t play the first couple of Greatest Golfers. By 2012, I was out of competitive purgatory and ready to tee it up. The first tee nerves are real. And I was excited to have them back from a local event.
Number 5 — The Memorial. Writing for the Vindy gave me the opportunity to play “reporter” for a week. When local golfer Jason Kokrak received his first invitation to Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Invitational in Columbus, Todd asked me if I’d like to drive down and cover the event. Jason missed the cut, so I won’t talk up the week that much. But I sure had a lot of fun for three days.
Number 4 — The KISS. I got my Greatest feet wet in 2012. In 2013, I was lucky enough to play the last round in the final group with two great Boardman friends; Josh Zarlenga (a teammate of mine at BHS and YSU) and Tim Morrow (a player of mine from my one coaching year at BHS). When I was fortunate enough to win, The Vindicator captured a congratulatory kiss between my wife and I off the last green. At seven months pregnant, Beth wasn’t all that excited when the two of us took up a lot of the front page of the sports section! But it was a special win. And a special keepsake for our family to look back on.
Number 3 — Ed Rubicky conversation. Some time in 2017 (I think), I got my regular afternoon coffee from the old Dunkin in Boardman where you had to go inside. I walked in for a coffee. I walked out with a new friend. Ed Rubicky wasn’t shy when he asked for a logo’d golf ball after seeing my Lake Club shirt. I wasn’t shy introducing myself and asking for a few minutes to chat golf. An hour or so later, I had a great conversation with a great guy who had read my columns and was happy to just talk golf. I think my column’s final line was; “I ran into an old golf friend, we just hadn’t met yet.”
Number 2 — Lowest round. And then a loss. After a disappointing opening round at Mill Creek, I wasn’t feeling great about 2017’s second round at Oak Tree. When I birdied our first hole, the difficult uphill tenth, I was somehow off to the races. The 30-foot slider I made on my last hole (the par 3 ninth) was my seventh birdie of the day, and the resulting 64 was one of my lowest competitive rounds ever. It put me in the lead by two, which I unfortunately couldn’t hold onto that Sunday. But boy that Oak Tree round was fun.
Number 1 (out of order, but has to be my number one) — Winning with Stella. I don’t know why I haven’t been able to play well in back-to-back years, but after a disappointing 2014, I managed to capture my second Greatest title in 2015. The “Kiss” from 2013 was when we were waiting for our baby Stella. In 2015, Stella was cheering me on by the last green. Somethings I’ll just remember forever.
Jonah Karzmer is a former golf professional who writes a Sunday golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time he sells commercial insurance and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at Jonah@thekarzmerinsurance.com.