Navy Man Sails To The Top
Walt Martin, retired commanding officer of the Naval ROTC at the University of San Diego was all smiles when he accepted the 2014 John Kline Super Seniors Championship Plaque. "It's nice to be the winner, but it's also nice to have a Navy man's name atop an Air Force man's trophy," commented the tall Virginian.
Walt Martin and John Kline
The tournament's namesake, United States Air Force Major General John Kline retired in 1972 with two stars and a thirst for high level golf competitions. He was able to qualify for the U.S. Senior Amateur 11 times, the last coming at age 71. He also qualified for the U.S Senior Open four times. Kline's career trail lists 30 tournament victories and was runner-up in 40 events. Kline became one of the founding members of the Society of Seniors, and he served as membership chairman for 20 plus years.
Long time member Bob Twaddell of Houston remarked, "In the early days, if you wanted to join the Society, you had to go through John Kline. And you better have the resume!"
General Kline, in an interview with the Global Golf Post in 2011 stated, he is deeply honored to have an SOS tournament named after him. "I am proud as hell. It's better than having a street named after you. "
The 13th annual John Kline Super Seniors was played at San Antonio's storied Oak Hills CC. A.W. Tillinghast completed Oak Hills Country Club in 1922. In the ensuing years, Oak Hills has hosted 31 professional championships, including the Texas Open, the 1987 Tour Championship and the 2001 US Junior Championship.
The tree lined fairways, bunker protected greens and excellent putting surfaces provided a perfect setting for more than 60 super seniors, competing in four divisions. The 65-69 division and the 70-74 division played the course at 6,300 yards while the 75-79 division and the 80 and over crowd played at 5850.
Dan Smith of Naples enjoyed a wire-to-wire victory in the 65-69 age division with 72-77-74. His 223 total was good for a one shot victory over hard charging John Richart of La Quinta, who started the final round three shots back of Smith. Richart's third round 72 was tied with Naples' Jim Rollefson's 72 for low round of the day.
Playing from the same set of tees, Walt Martin of Oakton, Virginia posted 74-75-73--222, finishing four shots ahead of Southern Pines' Gary Strickfaden at 226. Strickfaden's second round one-under 71 was low for the entire blue tee group all three days. Martin's 222 total was good by a single shot for the overall title.
In the 75-79 age division, San Antonio resident Bob Hullender opened with a fine one-under par 71, added another 71 in round two, and was able to coast home with a final 79 and a 221 total, seven shots ahead of Ann Arbor's Claud Johnston.
Hullender, also an Air Force retired Brigadier General expressed his great admiration of John Kline in an emotional acceptance speech. "It is with great pride that I receive this trophy with John's name on it. He has been an inspiration to me for many years."
Another stout Texan, Don Addington of Dallas was the champion of the 80 and over group with rounds of 83-77-78--238. The Texas hold 'em was complete with fellow Dallas resident Chuck Ribelin in second with 84-85-79--238.