May 14, 2013

Charities are big winners at the Roman Open

Chris Whitfield

— What started out as a way to raise money for a new roof on Dalton’s St. Joseph’s Catholic Church has become a shelter under which 30 charities and the people who benefit from them find protection and refuge.

The Roman Open was played Monday at Dalton Golf and Country Club, and the four-ball tournament — an all-volunteer event — enjoyed another record-setting year as it brought in more than $100,000 in donations to charities throughout Northwest Georgia. This was the 38th edition of the tournament, which began as a cooperation between the local Catholic, Episcopalian and Jewish congregations to rebuild a roof.

“It just continues to grow,” Roman Open tournament director Vann Brown said. “There is just so much support in the business community and individuals looking to help out. It is easy to put on a tournament like this because there are so many dedicated volunteers.”

The golf is just an afterthought for many playing in the tournament, but for the record, three teams tied for first place overall with a gross score of 53: Scott Austin, Dwight Hefner, Andy Oxford and Matt Oxford; Wendell Lance, Carey Winkler, Robert Winkler and Willie Winkler; and David Gibson, Mike Green, Dustin Guyton and Patton King. The event had both morning and afternoon shotgun starts with 62 four-person teams in six flights, a total of 248 golfers.

Last year the event set a record for participants with 253 but this year’s mark was in money raised, with Brown expecting the final tally to be $104,000. That figure is $11,000 more than any previous year in the tournament’s existence. In addition to helping charities, the Roman Open awards eight college scholarships to Georgia Northwestern Technical and two scholarships to Dalton State.

“It has been such a success this year,” said Brown, who is the president of ArrowStar, a chemical manufacturing company in Dalton. “We received a lot more requests than usual, and people know that their donations are going to help worthy causes. Every charity we write a check to, we have validated their work and seen the impact they are having in the community. The Roman Open is so easy to get behind because of all of the work that goes into it.”

Despite all of the preparation each year, Brown said there are still things that come up with an event that relies on more than 80 volunteers, including 30 board members, to help stage the tournament.

“You do all you can before the tournament, but it is still like herding cats,” Brown said. “There is always something you forget or didn’t expect that you are going to run into. The good thing is that our volunteers come from such a wide variety of businesses that we can usually get it all taken care of.”

Despite the challenges, Brown believes it is all time well spent for the volunteers.

“I believe in charity, and I have seen how this event has changed lives over the years,” he said. “When you see the kids whose lives are changed by the scholarships they receive or the families who are touched by the charities, it makes it all worth it.

“We have so much need in this community, but we have so many people who are willing and working to help fill those needs.”

Morning winners (net scores listed) were: first flight — Rick Hamilton, Joe Honey, Terry Moore and John Rose (50); second flight: Tony Ingle, Chase Jones, Chester King and Pete Purvis (54); Ben Bartre, Joey Jenkins, Lamar Reynolds and J.R. Sheriff (49).

Afternoon winners were: first flight — Wendell Lance, Carey Winkler, Robert Winkler and Willie Winkler (44); second flight — David Gibson, Mike Green, Dustin Guyton and Patton King (50); third flight — Chris Bradley, Wayne Proctor, Mark Ridley and Larry Sims (55).