Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

June 11, 2014

Scholarship golf event celebrates 25 years

ATHENS — This Friday, a golf tournament named for one of Mercer County’s

most popular citizens will mark a quarter century.

The 25th annual Homer K. Ball Scholarship Golf Tournament will tee off at Pipestem Resort State Park to raise money for student assistance at Ball’s alma mater, Concord University.

Ball, whose family has lived in Mercer County for generations, worked as a Concord administrator, served on the Athens Town Council, was elected county sheriff and served in the House of Delegates and State Senate prior to his death in 2008.

His sons Phillip and Greg, both Princeton attorneys, have worked with others to make the golf tournament a success for many years. Helping Concord students financially remains the tournament’s goal.

Greg Ball said, “With education costs going up, it’s very important to keep trying to assist to get quality students into Concord. I think it’s very important to help out, however we can, with that type of thing.”

The executive director of the Concord University Foundation, Lisa Moore, said about the golf tournament proceeds, “Every single bit of it goes to academic scholarships.”

“Many, many of our enrollees are first-time college students, (and) a lot of our service area is economically distressed,” she said. “These funds help provide a college education for people who didn’t think they could do it.”

She said the scholarships go to “high-achieving students, with need.”

The foundation named the tournament in Homer Ball’s honor after he retired from working at the school — and after he came down with cancer, from which he recovered.

“I think putting his name on it was really to honor him and his service,” Greg Ball said. “It gave him, after he retired, something to look forward to every year. He loved it. And he loved Concord, too.”

Greg Ball said that some of the many people that Homer Ball knew helped him “bring in people” to play in the tournament.

He noted as well that his father served several years as president of the Pipestem Park Foundation and regularly played its 18-hole golf course. He said Homer Ball promoted relationships between the park and Concord, which are separated by only 12 miles.

The top turnout has been 88 golfers, Greg Ball said. The tournament has averaged about 17 foursomes over its history. Response so far this year has been good, he said.

Some people show up unannounced on the day of the event. Ball said the organizers are “very flexible” about getting them the opportunity to get paired up and start to play.

“I think, two years ago, we had a guy from Phoenix, Arizona, and he showed up and played on a team, on the day of the tournament,” Ball said. “He was in for a reunion for his high school class out of McDowell County and he was staying at Pipestem.”

Ball said, “There are a ton of folks that have helped out over the years. It is in my dad’s name, but it has definitely not been him or us doing it all. We’ve had a lot of support over

the years.”

He started naming Concord University Foundation board members, CU alumni, and current and former employees of the university’s advancement office, then stopped because he was concerned about leaving anyone out.

He added, “Basically, we’ve got tournament benefactors. They give us $500, or that much in services. We have hole sponsors also. A lot of the local businesses, maybe don’t play golf but they want to pitch in, so they’ll pay for the hole sponsorship.”

The tournament has awards for overall first and second place, and a closest-to-the-pin award, but Ball said, “The rest of our prizes are made through a drawing — some of the nicer prizes.”

They include a weekend at Pipestem, a golfing trip to Fountain Springs golf course, a weekend golf outing at Stonewall Jackson Resort, and one at Twin Falls Resort State Park.

Tee time is at 8:30 a.m. Friday. Lunch will be served immediately following the tournament, and then the drawings and awarding of prizes will begin.

The $125 per person cost includes green fees, cart and tournament souvenirs. For additional information, call Moore at 304-384-6056.

— Contact Tom Bone at tbone@bdtonline.com

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