Love: Sunnehanna marks 60th anniversary

One of the finest amateur golf tournaments in the world is held every June – in nearby Johnstown.

This year will mark the 60th anniversary of the Sunnehanna Amateur, scheduled for June 13-16. A world-class field, including 20 of the top 30 ranked amateurs, will be competing over four days of stroke play.

Included in this year’s field of 85 players are players from as far away as Brazil, Columbia, Spain and France.

Many amateurs who went on to become successful professional golfers have played in this event over the years – including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler.

A tournament of this caliber just doesn’t happen.

It’s become a prestigious national event through the hard work and dedication of Sunnehanna’s membership – especially tournament co-chairmen Denver Wharton and Jim Hargreaves.

Both men are intelligent, sincere and tireless workers in their effort to make this tournament what it is today – one of the finest amateur tournaments in the world.

Over the next couple of weeks they’ll be putting in long hours, along with new club pro Carl Seelman, media chairman Brian Chirillo and many others, to complete another successful Sunnehanna Amateur tournament.

As it’s done the past few years, Sunnehanna is holding a qualifying event, for four tournament spots, on Monday at the Bedford Springs Resort course.

It’s a great idea and gives many skilled amateurs the chance to play their way into the tournament. (For many years, the only entry into the tournament was by exclusive invitation.)

Last year, Hollidaysburg’s Anthony DeGol missed qualifying by a mere one shot. Unfortunately, he is unable to participate in this year’s event due to a scheduling conflict.

Two other local golfers are scheduled to qualify on Monday – Sam Lafferty of Hollidaysburg and Wes Turiano, formerly of Hollidaysburg, who now lives in Johnstown.

As part of their 60th anniversary celebration, Sunnehanna has invited back the winner of its inaugural 1954 Invitational – Don Cherry, who is now 82 years old.

Sixty years ago, the multi-talented Cherry was not only the No. 1 ranked amateur golfer in the country, he also held the No. 1 spot on the pop charts with his hit song, “Band of Gold.”

Ken Love covers local golf for the Mirror. His column appears on Fridays.