July 29, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
59°F

Westfield was one of a kind


They say the more things change, the more they stay the same.

They never went to the Westfield Junior PGA Championship.

What the folks at Westfield Group Country Club have done in seven years might take another 70 to duplicate and it has nothing to do with golf.

Records will be broken and matches will surely come down to the last hole when the 32-year-old event moves to The Club at Olde Stone in Alvaton, Ky., or PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., next year.

The thing that will be tough to beat is the professionalism, class and down-to-earth feel Westfield workers gave each and every person that walked through the gates to watch the best junior golf in the world.

It didn’t matter if you were the second cousin of the next door neighbor of one of the players in the field or the reigning champion. As long as you thought of Westfield as home, well then, the organizers were doing their job.

“Even if this tournament goes to a small town, it won’t ever be like this,” said 2006 champion Joe Monte. “You’ll never see it embraced like it was when it was here. You’ll never see galleries of 2,000 or 3,000 come out to watch junior golf.”

It’s why Monte fought back tears before he left on Saturday, turning a chapter in his life as he headed off to play collegiate golf at Georgia Southern. It’s why his father, Dennis, welled up while watching his son finish his 12th competitive round on the South Course.

They came from as far away as South Africa and as close as just down the road to play in the tournament that was simply known as “The Westfield” to its participants.

They came because friends and former players told them about how wonderful the experience was and still every one of them walked away wowed.

Even Parker Hewit, who lives in Westfield Center and has been to his share of championships on his home course, was amazed when he got to play in the last two events.

He’s age eligible to play next year, but knows that it can’t possibly live up to the last seven.

“This is as good as the tournament is ever going to be.” he said. “I was talking with the kids in my group and they said it can’t get any better.

“Everything fits perfectly. From the Westfield Inn, to the Blair Center, it’s definitely an experience.”

Those experiences only got better as each year passed.

Tessa Teachman played in all but one Westfield. She’s won state championships. She’s played in the U.S. Amateur. She’s been in LPGA events.

Given the choice, she’d take the South Course over every one of them.

“That’s all we talked about Friday night,” her father, John, said. “We’ve been all over the states, but this is her favorite tournament.

“We talked about it not being here anymore. It just won’t be the same.”