Junior tournament just part of Jimmy Flattery's local legacy

Golf Notebook

September 27, 1992|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

The world lost a great Irishman last week, and the late Jimmy Flattery would be the first to agree that that statement is &L redundant.

Also lost was a true golf professional of the old school.

Flattery, who died of cancer last Sunday at age 78, will be remembered for a friendly smile and a happy, outgoing personality. But for hundreds of Baltimoreans, past and present, mention Jimmy Flattery and the immediate connection is the junior tournament that bears his name.

He had started the event as a young professional in his childhood home of Peabody, Mass., came to Baltimore in 1936, and picked it up when he came out of the Navy following World War II, and got the job as head professional at Forest Park GC.

Actually, Jim Wild, golf writer for The Sun at the time, had started a junior tournament earlier, and Flattery, in a better position to handle the details, took it over.

One who has vivid memories of participating in Flattery's annual junior event -- called the Ice Cream and Cake Open -- is George Graefe, now the head professional at Annapolis CC.

"One of the greatest presents my mom ever gave me -- I guess I was in college at the time -- was an album filled with articles and pictures. It was about eight inches thick, and most of them were about Jimmy's tournaments.

"I think I played in practically every one from 14 months through 17 years. That tournament was the cornerstone of our summer, although there were some years when the only reason I went was for the free ice cream and cake.

"To put it in perspective, he was equally proud of all his players. And in every picture I have of Jimmy, he's smiling, there are lots of children, and he's got his arms around some of them."

There were other calls and other stories.

"In my six years at Fountain Head [CC], he never missed one of my tournaments and he always asked for the first time. He always said, 'I wantto see that sun come up when I get over South Mountain," said Bill Strausbaugh, head professional at Columbia CC.

Mel Burton, a former Public Parks champion who worked with Jimmy at Forest Park recalled the time he was part of a foursome on the 18th tee, and Jimmy, who lived in the neighborhood, stopped on his way home.

"Ed Sprinkle, who was a big hitter, was getting ready to hit and Jimmy says, 'Wait a minute. Let me introduce you as the world's longest driver.' Ed tried to ignore him, but Jimmy kept it up. Finally, Ed said, 'Let me hit this ball,' and Jimmy countered with, 'Not before I introduce you.'

"Normally, when you're trying to hit it hard, you'll mess it up, but Sprinkle cleared all the trees and the ball landed about 12 feet from the back of the green. We paced it off at 330 yards. I never saw a ball hit any harder. Jimmy just looked at him, said, 'See, never doubt the word of a leprechaun,' and off he went."

We'd all like to carve a niche for ourselves, hoping we're making things better for somebody, but knowing perfectly well we're not. The difference is that Jimmy Flattery pulled it off. His niche was always a little bigger and a little better.

Miscellaneous

The first Biggest Little Classic to benefit Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Central Maryland will be held Thursday at Wakefield Valley GC in Westminster. Information is available from (410) 821-8148. . . . the second Eagle's Nest Women's Invitation tournament will be held Oct. 9, with proceeds to benefit breast cancer research at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center. Information from Susan Mehiel (410) 560-2633. . . . Bob Snyder Sr., 76, a 22 handicapper at Mount Pleasant Golf Club, needed only 11 putts for his front nine in a recent club event, then cooled off with 20 on the back nine and a score of 95.

This week's schedule

Today -- Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation two-man team championship, Mount Pleasant GC, 8 a.m. Tomorrow -- Middle Atlantic PGA Northern Chapter Pro-Scratch tournament, Caroline CC, 8 a.m. Thursday-Sunday -- Middle Atlantic Amateur championship, Hunt Valley GC, 7:30 a.m. Friday -- Women's Golf Association mixed two-ball tournament, Suburban Club, 12:30 p.m.

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