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  • Writer's pictureJohn Harry

The Point Special Open Golf Tournament

Before the USGA's U.S. Senior Open, and long before Sentryworld even existed, there was the Point Special Open. Sponsored by Point Brewery and the Stevens Point Country Club, this golf tournament took place in 1961 and 1962 at the Country Club. This was a Pro-Am tournament, meaning both professional and amateur golfers could enter to win the prize money. Pros had to be sanctioned with the Professional Golfers Association. As the event grew, the tournament became an invitational in 1963 and 1964. For it's time, it was one of the largest golf events in the state of Wisconsin.

May 23, 1961, Stevens Point Journal

The first tournament ended with Russ Tuveson from Janesville besting his professional competition and Allen Daeda of Milwaukee winning the amateur category. For Stevens Point's representation in the hometown tourney, Country Club Pro Darrell Acker finished in a tie for 8th, while three Stevens Point Amateurs finished in the top 20.

August 1, 1961, Stevens Point Journal

The inaugural edition of the tournament went well enough that the Stevens Point Journal reported that the "there's a good chance" that the event would be repeated the next year. Attendance for the 1961 event was over 2,000, enough for the Journal to suggest that the public would support a major golf tournament in town.

The Point Special Open returned in 1962 to even more hype with noted Wisconsin pros Tommy Veech, Bob Below, Roy Wallin, and Lou Warobick leading a crowded field of over 100 golfers consisting of 36 professionals and 80 amateurs.

Veech was the eventual winner for the professional prize of $2,500, while Phil Johnson of Madison won the amateur division. Stevens Point's John Toepel Jr. also tied for second place in the amateurs.

Amazingly, video exists of the the 1962 Point Special Open, which has been digitized! Check it out below. Note: There is no sound in the video, but there must have been some tape left at the end that the camera person used to film the inside of the brewery, so watch it all the way through!

The tournament returned in 1963 as an invitational affair, since having 116 golfers compete had made the course rather congested. Tommy Veech won the 1963 contest with Tom Hadley of Neenah besting the rest of the amateur field. The invitational returned in 1964 with Russ Tuveson again winning for the pros and Ralph Schlicht from Madison leading the amateurs.

July 31, 1964, Stevens Point Journal

After 1964, the the annual Point Special tournament doesn't appear in the newspapers again, suggesting that it was the last year of Stevens Point first big golf tournament which laid the groundwork for everything that's come since.


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