PGA TOUR: Champions Dick's Open in My Hometown

Andy Reistetter@GolfWriter59Analyst IJune 26, 2010

Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter is on site at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open at En Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y.

Endicott is one of the Triple Cities along with Johnson City and the author's hometown of Binghamton. Here are his initial thoughts on arriving on site covering his first Champions event.

It is much too early to fully comprehend the experience of coming home.

As was my experience at Pebble Beach walking the course seven times in four days while reporting the play of the best golfers in the world, this visit will take time to digest.

A quick flight back to Chicago to play in a friend's 36-hole golf tournament, then a long drive to Rochester, N.Y. to play Oak Hill, my life seems to be a whirlwind of sorts.

This being my ninth straight week on the road covering golf tournaments, I am a little road-weary, so again it is especially nice to be back home.

No complaints, though, as I am living a good life.

The first action I saw on this the golf course that George F. Johnson built for his shoe factory workers, was on the first hole as Tom Jenkins, Bob Gilder, and Fuzzy Zoeller teed off.

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Memories of competing in the Section IV high school golf tournament against the likes of Joey Sindelar and Mike Hulbert fill my mind as the players are introduced and they take a graceful swing at their golf balls.

One of my best buddies whiffed on the same tee shot…completely missed the ball as other players and mostly family enveloped the teeing area.

I did not suffer that fate and my claim to fame in the golfing world is that Sindelar and Hulbert only beat me by a few strokes.

Okay, so it was only an 18-hole tournament.

I still have my ace at Kemper Lakes and qualifying for the Illinois State Amateur one year way back when.

Driving down Route 81 through the beautiful mountains and valleys, I was thinking about how troubled our country seems to be at these difficult times.

I had Candy Colburn's Even in the Hard Times in the CD player echoing similar sentiments.

I met her in Fort Worth; she is the singer who did the theme song "Pink Warrior" for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the global breast cancer movement so exemplified by Colonial's PINK OUT for Amy Mickelson. 

Colburn is pure inspiration.

So is my hometown of Binghamton, N.Y., and the Triple Cities area.

The folks, the families and the businesses here experienced a downturn long before the rest of the country though now it seems they are coming out of it maybe sooner than anyone else.

I remember when Dick's Sporting Goods was only one store on Upper Court Street.

Now there are 419 Dick's Sporting Goods stores in 40 states across our great nation.

Dick's stepped in to support this community when the PGA TOUR and the old B.C. Open went to a more lucrative place.

I remember the recently departed Alex Alexander, the man behind the B.C. Open, who teamed with Johnny Hart the B.C. cartoonist to make this tournament what it is.

I know Broome County Community Charities. They helped me out when I was a kid growing up in this valley. They helped my family, my friends, and many other people.

Together, Anything's Possible.

We have to remember that we are not alone in this world.

Sometimes on the giving, sometimes on the receiving side, it's life, it’s all good.

I only recently documented that the very first tournament was named the Broome County Open.

Hart and his cartoon characters all so vividly personified all us real-life characters.

A bit of nostalgia for sure.

The course designer was Ernie E. Smith, who was also the longtime pro at the golf course I grew up on, the Ely Park Municipal Golf Course.

It's a sporty layout located on the top of Mount Prospect in the city of Binghamton.

It has 360-degree views of the mountains and valleys of the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers.

Play it when you can, as soon as you can.

Well, that's my first report.

We have one heck of a Champions tournament going on here.

Sindelar, Hulbert, Chip Beck, Gary Koch, Hal Sutton, Craig Stadler, Loren Roberts, Jay Haas, Fred Funk, Nick Price, Tom Kite, Hale Irwin, Ben Crenshaw among others are all here.

Lonnie Nelson is defending champion.

Mark Calcavecchia is making his long-awaited Champions Tour debut here in my hometown.

Okay, off to the golf course.

I promise to try to write more about the golfing action.

But first, I need to have my first spiedie sandwich.

Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.

He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

He enjoys pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. He can be reached through his website

www.MrHickoryGolf.net or by e-mailing him to AndyReistetter@gmail.com

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