Seventh annual Senesi Classic on the horizon
  
By Jeff Birchfield 

STAR STAFF
jbirchfield@starhq.com

   The Seventh Annual Dino Senesi Golf Classic for the benefit of the Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County is fast approaching, with over half the 144 spots to play in this prestigious tournament already filled.
   For the Boys and Girls Club, the tournament to be held on Monday, June 17 at the Elizabethton Golf Course is the one of the most important events of the calendar year.
   "It's the biggest fund raiser for our budget and the everyday operation of the club," said Boys and Girls Club director Pappy Crowe. "We have to raise $100,000 to keep the club running the way it should be. This is a big event and the golf committee does an outstanding job.
   "We want to invite everyone that can to come and play and have a big day. We have good food and it's a lot of fun."
   The committee is made up of several key people in the local business community. In a meeting held at Dino's Restaurant on Monday night the following members were in attendance -- Crowe, Jeff Jackson, Johnny Mills, Allen Frost, Dan Holder, Sid Davidson, Darlene Tipton, Kent Williams, Judy Veneman, Dr. Danny Smith and the tournament namesake, Dino Senesi.
   Each of these people have been involved with the tournament for some time. Take the example of Frost, currently serving as the committee chair.
   "This is our seventh year," said Frost, a charter member of the tournament board. "I was co-chairing it up until this year and Ronnie Taylor had been the chairperson.
   "Taking this position required more attention. I've done part of this for seven years. We start meeting around January off and on to get our ideas together and our heads together. We try to lay down the ground work to getting our sponsorships and the dates set. We've got great people on this committee."
   The name of the tournament and what it stands for helps to make the sponsorship possible.
   "This is one of the premier golf tournaments in this area," stated Frost. "We want to keep it that way. We've had new sponsors, some sponsors go out and we understand that certain things happen.
   "The enthusiasm of the people wanting to get this done and the commitment of the people on the committee to try to get this organized is exciting. During these hard times of economics, we are grateful for what we receive. We want the players and the sponsors to know that."
   Prizes offered at this year's tournament continue to be of the highest quality. A car is being donated for a hole-in-one on the eighth hole, and a cash prize of $10,000 is offered for a hole-in-one on 17. Closest to the pin winners on holes No. 3 and No. 10 will receive gas grills.
   Celebrity involvement is key in this year's event with Al Brown, the assistant coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols, noted as their spiritual guru and motivator, heading the early confirmees along with Volunteer football defensive coordinator John Chavis.
   Local golf pro Jerry Wilson, featured on WJHL and previously in the pages of SPORTS TALK, will also be on the list of high profile guests as will former UT quarterback Dewey Warren. Other celebs are expected to be announced in the upcoming days.
   Several new sponsors are involved, as Crowe is appreciative of those businesses not only in Elizabethton, but those around the county and in neighboring Johnson City.
   "We get real good support," said Crowe. "We work hard to keep it that way. Overall, we serve about 1100 kids."
   For those outside the city limits hesitant to support the tournament, remember the Boys and Girls Club benefits the entire county.
   "It's all of Carter County," said Crowe. "Since we moved into the new facility, we've tripled our after school programs. A couple of places like Hunter and Happy Valley, we've had to have school buses to bring them in.
   "We don't have enough van space to van all the kids in. We hope to get another van, so we can reach out and touch more kids."
   Giving back to the community is why many like Mills stay involved in the cause.
   "It's one of the good things about a small town," said Mills, himself a former UT football star. "These are our neighbors and our neighbor's kids. This is payback. Most of us are takers growing up and there comes a time in your life to give back. There are many ways people have chosen to give back. For those of us here, I plan to die here. This is where I plan to spend the rest of my life, that's why I support this community."
   Others who want to support the Boys and Girls Club by playing in the Dino Senesi Classic, entry forms can be picked up at Dino's Restaurant, the Elizabethton Golf Course and the service desk at Ingles grocery store.