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Winder-Barrow football hosts annual Greeson Open tourney

Four on fore

POSTED: May 31, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

Brad Akins of Akins Ford tees off during the tournament.

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Nearly 20 teams registered for this week’s 33rd Annual Greeson Open golf tournament to benefit Winder-Barrow High School football.

Wednesday’s event was a best ball tournament in which each of the four members on a team would drive from the tee box with all four then hitting again from wherever the best of the four balls landed. Teams would repeat the process of all four hitting a ball and then selecting the best representative until at least one of them had holed.

Winder-Barrow’s own principal, Dr. Al Darby, captained the winning team. Darby was joined by Steve Canup, Jason Scott and Bill Ritter. The Winder-Barrow foursome won the par 72 course at local Pine Hills Golf Club by shooting a 56 for a final net score of 16-under.

Darby’s team defeated one of the two teams representing Pinewood Estates by a single stroke.

Darby was hardly the only participant officially affiliated with the school, though, as members of both the men’s and women’s golf teams at Winder-Barrow competed in the tournament, along with new football coach Heath Webb.

Lindsey Greeson, founder of Greeson Homes in Winder and across the southeast, helped start the tournament back in the early-80s almost by accident.

"It was an accident, really," Greeson acknowledged. "I was part of a party that met for breakfast with the principal of Winder High School one time, and the new football coach came in. He was talking about how terrible the weight rooms were and how inferior the equipment was and how he’d need to update the whole program, and we were just having breakfast one morning and I said, ‘Well why don’t you hold a golf tournament to raise some money?’

"I was partnered with Harold Akins of Akins Ford at the time and they said, ‘Hey, that’s a pretty good idea.’ Well I said I’d help put one together and we made nearly $1,700 or $1,800 for the first year," Greeson noted.

After one great year of fundraising and helping the team under new coach Don Elam, Greeson believed that the tournament was over. As history has proven, it was not.

"As far as I was concerned, it was over with. Then, about eight or nine months later I get a phone call from the principal asking, ‘When’s your golf tournament?’ I said, ‘Wait a minute. It’s not my golf tournament! I was just one of the people helping out on it, and I’ll be glad to help out on it again.’

"So the second year we made about $5,000 and…all of a sudden, it was the Greeson Golf Tournament."

As it stood, Greeson kept the tournament going for another 18 years as the lead contact, but he would step down for more than a decade after the 20th anniversary.

Once again, though, almost by accident, Greeson found himself heading up the tournament named after him.

"I said if they wanted to keep it up I’d be glad to sponsor some teams and give some donations, and as I hung on with it and they did a good job with it, it fell off a little bit. When it peaked, we had 38 or more teams and the cash prizes were huge," Greeson noted. "It kind of dove down a bit, and every year I’ve still been a part of it in the background.

"In the last couple years, I closed my business and got more involved with it and they ask me to the meeting back in February and Stephanie gets up and announces me as the chairman of the group to put together the golf tournament, and I said, ‘It’s not my golf tournament anymore, but I appreciate you using my name,’" Greeson admitted, referencing Stephanie Sorrels of the booster club . "Hopefully I won’t be into at as much next year, but I’ll still do what I can to help."

Despite his consistent stumbling into the position of tournament head, Greeson admits that helping support the Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs has been an honor over the last 33 years that he is quite proud of.

"It always manages to put a smile on your face to know that you’ve done something good for the school system and for athletics. I’m a graduate of Winder-Barrow High, even though I didn’t play sports," Greeson mentioned. "I graduated in ’62 and I’ve always wanted them to have good sports programs and I’ve always followed them and want them to do well.

"I’ve felt bad for them when they didn’t do well and wanted to find a way to improve it, and I think right now we’ve got a coach who will do that," Greeson said, offering his confidence in Webb.

While the primary fundraiser may have been the registration fees, participants helped bring in money for the football team in more ways than one. In addition to the registration fees and sponsorship costs, money came in through various raffles and a team’s ability to purchase up to 16 mulligans.

Seeing as most of the participants were hobbyist golfers, the excessive mulligans probably went a long way towards securing both ample funds and significantly low scores. The average score, with 16 teams represented, was 64 strokes on a 72 par course for a net average of 8-under.

Golfers rarely complain about low scores, though, and the teams involved can be proud of that alongside the money they helped raise.

This year’s tournament took place at Pine Hills, which was also the original home of the Greeson Open all those years ago. The tournament has moved around to various venues over time, including Chateau Elan and The Chimneys in Winder, but Greeson believes that Pine Hills is the natural fitting home for the tournament bearing his name.

"I told them if they wanted to start making money they had to get back to Pine Hills like the old days where they give us the full use of the course," Greeson mentioned. "You’ve got to give it to these people here. They really open their arms up for us and this is where it will be from here on out. This is where it needs to stay.

"It’s where it started and it’s where everybody likes to come," Greeson added. "They shut the course for us for the entire day. Out here is where you can have a good fundraiser."

Altogether, the 33rd Annual Greeson Open raised more than $7,000. Proceeds from Wednesday’s fundraiser will go towards helping Winder-Barrow football grow and improve various aspects of the team.

"It’s a fun way to raise money and to have a good time and to meet people and to see old faces and to hear old stories," Winder-Barrow football coach Heath Webb said after experiencing his first ever Greeson open. "It’s a fun way to raise money. Raising money is never fun unless you can somehow incorporate it into golf."

While the money raised to help the Bulldogg football program pleased Webb, it was far from the only benefit of the day in his opinion. One of Webb’s missions all along has been to rebuild Winder-Barrow football into a real community affair. With Wednesday’s tournament, the community had a great chance to be a part of what Double-G football is all about.

"This will be a community football program, and what took place on Wednesday is evidence that we’re moving in the right direction making this a community football program," Webb noted. "I see a lot of guys who are Winder-Barrow graduates and longtime supporters, and seeing them come out and support the boys is a great sense of community to me and hopefully we can make it grow."



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