By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Only one thing is for certain at the 32nd annual Beckley Newspapers Memorial Golf tournament.
A new champion will be crowned.
Christian Brand won the last three tournament titles, but he has since turned pro. That means someone other than Brand will hoist the trophy for the first time since Alan Wharton won in 2008.
“It will be fun and cool to see someone else win it,” said Bosten Miller, with a laugh. Miller and Brand were teammates at Marshall University.
“I would like to get my hands on it.”
Nick Mays, a 22-year-old Beckley resident, is one of the entrants who will use the BNI as a tune-up to the West Virginia Amateur in less than three weeks. Mays was the medalist at Tuesday’s Amateur qualifier at The Resort at Glade Springs’ Cobb Course.
“When there is a new winner, it will always be exciting,” Mays said. “But you still have Brandon Reece, and my dad (Mike, a six-time BNI winner), of course.”
Of course, Nick would welcome the chance to claim a seventh title for the Mays family.
“That would be nice,” he said.
The BNI is annually the focal point of several golfers. Wharton and brothers Gary and Robert, for instance, plan their vacation around the tournament. The Summersville natives now live in Ohio.
BNI veteran Billy Lane has his own preference for a new champion.
“I would like to see someone from our area win it,” he said.
“What keeps me coming back?” Lane pondered. “I would guess it is the foursome we have.”
Lane teams every year with Greg McGraw, Jerry Hickman and Dennis Vass. The group has eight BNI titles among them — and has logged a lot of fun during the invitational each summer.
“We sure do,” Lane said.
The field is split between Grandview Country Club and Pipestem Resort State Park for the first two days, with the final round held at Glade on Monday. That set-up lends to the tournament’s attractiveness.
“You get to play two rounds stress-free,” said Miller, who will start medical school at Marshall this fall after getting a bachelor’s degree in biology. “You can’t really get that at any other tournament. Playing both courses makes it even more fun.”
“I like how it is played at three different places,” Mays said. “It just seems like there is always good competition. The variety of courses will truly show you how good the players are.”
First Community Bank is the main sponsor of the BNI, and the Lewis Automotive Group is sponsoring a hole-in-one contest at Glade Springs for a chance to win a new car.
There will be closest to the pin and longest drive contests. A half-and-half drawing will also be held, with half the proceeds going to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.
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