The chance to compete at one of America’s most revered golf venues left Josh James and Kellie Valentine with easy RSVP decisions.
Erie County residents have agreed to participate in separate tournaments this month at Pinehurst Resort. The North Carolina site, with nine 18-hole courses on its 5,500-acre property, has hosted three US Opens since 1999.
James, a future high school senior from the Union City area, participated in the fourth annual National High School Golf Association Invitational Tournament. He was one of 330 male golfers in the 54-hole tournament due to his status as a reigning PIAA Class 2A medalist.
James has played courses No. 5, 6 and 7 at Pinehurst. He finished at 29-over by 245.
Jake Albert of Blacksburg, Va., was the winner at under 10,206.
“Pinehurst is a spot on every golfer’s bucket list, so that’s so cool,” James said. “Having the opportunity to play against some of the best kids in all 50 states is an experience that only a handful of kids get. I’m lucky to be one of them.
James was able to visit the station. He even stood on the first tee box of his No. 2 course, where those three US Opens were played.
James also posed with the statue of Payne Stewart near the 18th of this course.e hole. Stewart, who won the 1999 US Open at Pinehurst, died in a private plane crash four months later.
James admitted that Pinehurst’s course layout and oppressive humidity, each foreign to northwest Pennsylvania, was nearly impossible to plan ahead.
He compared teeing off on some of the courses’ dogleg holes to playing blindfolded.
“But still, just being here makes you enjoy the game of golf,” James said. “Besides my high score, it was great to be here with my parents.”
Valentine at the US Adaptive Open
The James family left Pinehurst a day before Valentin’s expected arrival.
The 51-year-old McKean resident who lmost of his right arm in a car accident in 1993 in Cambria County, was one of 96 players selected to play in the United States Golf Association’s inaugural US Adaptive Open. The 54-hole tournament, which begins on Monday, will take place exclusively on the Pinehurst No. 6 course.
“It’s such an honor,” Valentine said. “It took so long to have a disabled category among the USGA US Open for men, women and seniors.”
Valentine, a Northwestern graduate, is one of 69 American players chosen.
USGA officials expected Valentine to qualify and accept an offer to compete in this week’s event. They were so sure of it that they invited the member of Lawrence Park Golf Club to attend Pinehurst last March for the announcement that the resort would host the historic tournament.
Valentine graduated with a Masters in Counseling from Gannon University in 2002 and currently works for Sunrise Counseling Services.
Valentine worked with Lawrence Park pro golfer Scott Jenkins in preparation for the tournament.
“What I’m (also) going to be working on goes with my line of work, the mental part of the game,” she said. “Reducing the anxiety will be key because this is a completely different (tournament) ladder than I’ve ever been on. I have a handicap of 14 and there are women here who have 0 ,5.
Valentine will also take time off from training to compete for the United States in the Phoenix Cup, a team tournament for golfers with disabilities. It is scheduled for August 14-16 in Birmingham, England.
EDGA President David Hewett Honored
No EDGA president has served a longer term than David Hewett. The Kahkwa Club member has held the position since 2003.
This followed Hewett’s 17-year tenure as secretary of EDGA.
Neither the roles nor the time periods that the former McDowell and Mercyhurst University golfer could not have imagined when he joined the organization in the early 1980s.
“I remember when I came to EDGA that the secretary at the time was making a report,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, he really knows what’s going on and he can talk about it really easily!’ At that time, I never imagined myself to be anything like that.
“Next thing you know, you’re doing things you never thought you could do.”
Things like serving on committees for the USGA and the West Penn Golf Association. Hewett also currently fills these roles.
Each is also separated from his 30-year tenure as Times-News Open bowling tournament director.
These are the main reasons Community Cup Charity, an Erie-based nonprofit, will honor Hewett with its Clifford Award on Aug. 8 in Kahkwa. A charity tournament will take place that day, followed by dinner and the prize giving.
Community Cup spokesman James Martin also cited various other roles Hewett has held as reasons he is honored. He has also served on the boards of Simpson and Trinity United Methodist churches, as well as the Roadhouse Theatre.
Hewett was also on the committee that helped organize the 2011 NCAA Division I Women’s Frozen Four Hockey Tournament in Erie.
“I still love what I do,” Hewett said, “so I might as well have passed without any mention.”
More information about the August 8 tournament and ceremony is available by emailing [email protected]
More news on EDGA
Tim Weyand became the first winner of an EDGA event when he won the JC Martin Seniors tournament on July 11.
Weyand achieved that status as a member of Whispering Woods Golf Club, where the game was held. He was the only player to finish with a red number at 2 under par 70.
Ron Coleman, who recently retired as a golf coach from Mercyhurst University, finished second with a 72.
The EDGA schedule resumes with Monday’s tag team tournament at Lake View Country Club of the Northeast. His 54-hole Marquette Savings Bank Amateur Championship will follow on the weekend of August 12 at Lawrence Park.
The two major Erie District Women’s Golf Association tournaments are also upcoming.
Lawrence Park will also host its Match Play competition July 26-31, followed by its Stroke Play event August 13-14 at Lake Shore Country Club.
Contact Mike Copper at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ETNcopper.