Can local golfers reclaim glory?
By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
June 5, 2002
There was a time when the Mississippi Golf Association State Amateur tournament belonged to Meridian golfers.
Not that they paid for it, but when it came time to hand out the first place prize, they owned the event, winning 25 championships in a 50-year span.
From 1931-80, six different Meridian golfers won the state am. Gene Vinson was the first, taking championships in 1931, 1932, 1933, 1938, 1940, and 1949.
H.G. Weddington, who plans to play in this year's event at Canebrake Golf Club at Hattiesburg, won championships in 1939, 1947, and 1948.
Eddie Merrins was the man in 1950, 1953, and 1955.
Mike Taylor began his 10-time run in 1965. He also finished first in 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, and 1978. He too is entered in this year's event.
Chuck Rea captured the 1969 championship.
Johnny Lang won the first of his two titles in 1976 and was the last Meridian golfer to win when he took first place in the 1980 tournament.
That's a 21-year drought by what used to be one of Mississippi's premier golfing areas.
Hoping to end that streak are Weddington, Dan Angero, Earl Aycock, Doyle Bryan, Clinton Hales, Winston Powell, Mack Stewart, Steve Stewart, J.T. Williamson, and Matt Smith.
Powell and Williamson play for Bryan at Lamar School.
The order of finish for the trio could make for an interesting topic of conversation next spring.
Bryan got a late start in golf.
Every golfer has chased Madison's Rett Crowder over the last four years. None have caught him. The 87th-annual state am could be no different.
Bryan enjoys playing Canebrake, the site of last year's Mississippi Private School Association's Overall state tournament.
One of the top Lauderdale Countians that won't be playing this year is Little.
Hales recently played in the NJCAA Division II Championship at Phoenix, Ariz.
Other area golfers who qualified for the state am are Dan Luke of Hickory and Jonathan Winstead of Union.
The tournament runs Thursday-Sunday. Canebrake is located west of Hattiesburg off Highway 98.