The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

The BNI

July 12, 2014

34th BNI golf tournament begins today

It’s a celebration. It’s a family reunion and it’s a stroll through some of the area’s most scenic spots.

Oh. And there’s also a golf tournament.

The 34th BNI Memorial Tournament, sponsored by First Community Bank, will begin today with nearly 160 golfers taking to the course at Grandview Country Club and The Brier Patch Golf Links.

“This event showcases the great amateur golf talent from this area, both young and old, and is the reason this tournament is so popular and has grown over the years,” said First Community Bank vice president Jeff Miller. “Participants have the opportunity to play with old friends and many have made this an annual reunion of sorts.”

The field will be divided in half, with one group participating at each course. The groups will switch courses for Sunday’s second round, and then everybody will come together Monday at the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs for the final round.

“I’ve already had two or three people tell me that Brier Patch is in tip-top shape,” said tournament director David Hunter. “They really seem to like it. Grandview is always a crowd favorite, and Glade Springs is a course a lot of our golfers don’t get to play very often. It’s a great opportunity.”

This year’s field will include six past champions, including a group of three of them playing together. Jerry Hickman, Dennis Vass and four-time winner Greg McGraw will play together the first two rounds. Six-time champion Mike Mays will also be back in the field, as will former champion Alan Wharton. Defending champion Brandon Reece, who won the BNI for the third time last summer, will be back defending his title.

Those former champions will have plenty of competition from an increasingly youthful field that includes the likes of area amateur powers like Winston Canada and Davey Jude.

Shady Spring High School will be represented by a foursome of current and former players — Landon Perry, Todd Albaugh Jr., Dakota McComas and Brandon Keaton. Drew Green will also play.

“These kids can flat out play,” said Hunter. “It makes me jealous.”

Hunter was quick to give thanks to the major sponsor, First Community Bank, as well as The Dish Cafe, which will sponsor a $5,000 hole-in-one cash prize on hole No. 3 Monday at Glade Springs. He also pointed to numerous hole sponsors, who make the event possible.

“All of our sponsors are locally-owned businesses,” said Hunter. “I always encourage the golfers to support those businesses while they’re in town, because without them the BNI wouldn’t be possible.”

This year’s event will also take on a special significance as it will honor Beth Hanna, the wife of former tournament director Pat Hanna, who was close to so many of the golfers. Beth lost her battle with cancer just prior to the start of last year’s BNI.

“Every year during the BNI, Beth was always out there making sure everything went smooth and together they did a great job,” said Miller. “Pat also approached First Community Bank about being a sponsor before he retired. We are happy to help carry on this great tradition.”

Tee times today begin at 7:15 a.m.

— E-mail: chuffman

@register-herald.com and

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@CamHuffmanRH.

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