Camaraderie, memories keep mainstays coming back

Herald File Photos
In this photo from The Herald's 41st Annual Dubois County Men's Amateur Golf Tournament in 2010, Derek Bolling (left) congratulated his father Brad Bolling after the pair finished first and second in the tournament. Brad Bolling has been a mainstay of the Dubois County Am for 45 years and has seen all three of his sons — Derek, Tyler and Bryson — compete in the tournament over the years as the County Am will celebrate it's 50th anniversary this year.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

If you look through this year’s entry list for The Herald’s Dubois County Men’s Amateur Golf Tournament, you’ll see a lot of familiar names.

It seems fitting that household names such as Brad Bolling, George Nord and Ron Schitter have remained constant fixtures of the County Am as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend.

The first round will take place at Huntingburg Country Club on Saturday and Buffalo Trace Golf Course in Jasper on Sunday. The championship round will be Sunday, July 21 at Sultan’s Run Golf Club in Jasper.

Bolling’s first ever appearance in the tournament was 1974 — he was just getting to ready enter his junior year at Southridge High School.

“I just remember being a marginal golfer at the time and I always looked up to the guys that were winning at that time — guys like Bill Dittmer Jr. and Skip Place,” said Bolling, who golfed and played basketball collegiately at Olney Central College and University of Southern Indiana. “I used to think, ‘Boy, if I could just get into the top 10.’ Now, I’ve been fortunate enough to win five times over the span of three or four decades.”

Ron Schitter, who currently works as the Director of Golf at the Lucas Oil Golf Course in English, recalls joining the tournament in the late 1970’s because, “The idea of potentially being the best golfer in the county was intriguing.”

While the first ever tournament he competed in was an exciting moment for him, it also brought out some nerves.

“We used to have a lot of nice crowds — people and family would just kind of stand around the first tee box and watch you,” Schitter said. “The atmosphere from those tourneys is what I remember the most, it’s not quite to that same extent as it used to be. There used to be around 30-40 people following around groups back in the day and that was a cool feeling.”

George Nord’s first tournament back in 1988 was memorable for several reasons.

First off, he won in his inaugural tournament with a score of 223. But he also can remember wearing a very funny pair of shorts resembling painter’s pants on the very first day.

“That’s a long story that I won’t go into,” Nord said with a laugh.

With all three golfers having such an extensive amount of history with the Dubois County Am, it’s safe to say they all have made some rather everlasting memories from competing in the tournament.

For Nord, it was the way he honored a very close friend with a tournament win back in 1993.

“My very first year, my good friend David Ackerman watched me win. Just a few years later, he passed away from a disease,” Nord recalled. “When I won my second tournament in 1993, I dedicated that victory to him and his family. It was a very touching moment for all of us.”

In this photo, George Nord contemplated his putt from the edge of the 13th green in the 1994 running of the County Am. While Nord sat in second place most of the day, he took the lead for good on the 15th hole to win his second consecutive County Am title and third overall. A year before, Nord can vividly recall dedicating his 1993 title to his good friend David Ackerman who had passed away a few years after watching Nord compete in his first ever County Am in 1988.

Schitter can vividly recall being paired several times with Skip Place — a five-time winner of the Dubois County Am who passed away in 1999.

Playing with Place taught Schitter some valuable lessons about the game of golf and how, in a lot of ways, it’s just like life.

“Skip would always teach you that the rules of golf are there to protect the game of golf but they also protect the player,” Schitter said. “I don’t want to sound corny or anything but it’s a lot like life because you may get bad breaks thrown at you, but you can always make the most out of it.”

Throughout his 45 years of playing in the County Am, Bolling has made plenty of memories — including lifelong friendships with guys such as John Uebelhor who has played in 48 of the 50 County Am’s.

But perhaps the best memories for Bolling comes from the family tradition that they have with the County Am. His sons Derek, Tyler and Bryson have all competed in the tournament with Derek currently holding the record for most County Am victories with 11 titles. Derek also had a successful college career winning a national title with Faulkner State Junior College in Alabama and he also spent his final two years of college golfing at IUPUI in Indianapolis.

“I tell people all the time, the older you get this is what you appreciate the most,” Brad said. “All four of us try to golf a bit together whenever we can. Golf is pretty much the only sport where me and my boys can still go out there and play together.”

While the County Am has held on strong for 50 years, it’s no secret that many wonder what the future holds for the tournament.

Many believe that the key to increasing the longevity of the County Am is to get more youth involved in the competition.

“I think our biggest challenge is the fact that there’s so many more things for kids to do these days,” Schitter said. “I’d like to see the younger generation continue to keep coming out more and more — I’d like to see the total get back up to 60, 70 or even 80 people.”

Brad Bolling added: “I’d like to see my boys and their boys have an opportunity to compete in this tournament. Hopefully, we can get young people out there so they can experience some of the same things I’ve been fortunate enough to do.”




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