The area golf scene is currently focused, at it is every year at this time, on local best-ball tournaments.
Two weeks ago, Sinking Valley crowned new champions while last week saw a homecoming, of sorts, as former Hollidaysburg native Wes Turiano teamed with fellow Sunnehanna member Derek Hayes to win the 45th annual Park Hills Classic.
This week's tournament destination will be Iron Masters Country Club, as the Roaring Spring course hosts its 36th annual Classic. The final two-ball event in the Altoona area is scheduled for Summit Country Club next week.
Most local courses now host a best-ball tournament of their own, and while many have been gaining in popularity in recent years (Scotch Valley in May, Down River in June and Summit in August, to name a few) there are three local best-ball tournaments that have accumulated a significant amount of history over the years.
Each of these Classics have been around for at least 35 years - Park Hills began in 1968, Sinking Valley in 1969 and Iron Masters started their own in 1977.
With this much history, it's interesting to see which local golfers fared the best in these highly competitive events. Partnering to win any of the local two-ball events is quite a feat, so determining whose name appears most often on the list of champions goes a long way toward saying who has been the most dominant among area golfers over the past couple of generations.
A close examination of the list reveals that the area golfer who has partnered to win most often in the area's three oldest two-balls is Artie Fink Jr. The Altoona native has teamed with several different golfers to win 14 times over the years.
Tied for second are Bo DelGrosso and Bobby Sweitzer. The Sinking Valley duo has won 12 times each - 10 times as partners.
In fourth place, with 11 titles, is local golf standout Jimmy Gillam, who turned professional last year. During his amateur career, the Tyrone native partnered to win the Park Hills tournament twice, Sinking Valley four times and five times at Iron Masters.
Next, with 10 titles, is Sinking Valley's Leonard DelBaggio, who has won five championships at both Iron Masters and Sinking Valley.
Finally, three area golfers have partnered to win eight titles - Sinking Valley's Greg Ferguson has won six times at his home club and two at Iron Masters, Patsy DelBaggio (four at Sinking Valley, four at Iron Masters), and Ed Strickler of Huntingdon (one at Park Hills, two at Sinking Valley and five at Iron Masters).
It's hard to argue that any of the above shouldn't be considered among the area's best golfers over the past half century. In addition to these tournaments, each has several other titles to their name, including many of the newer best-ball events held today.
With the increasing number of best-ball tournaments held in our area today, it will be interesting to see what names top the list of champions 50 years from now.