WARSAW – After a couple years of gloomy skies and fairways, the sun shone brightly on Rozella Ford Golf Club on Saturday. As if on cue, a record turnout for the fourth annual Sweet Sassy Golf Classic not only played under perfect conditions, but saw the stakes raise more than for just golf expectations.
“I mean, you can’t ask for anything better than this,” started Tyler Boganwright, one of the organizers of the event. As Boganwright spoke about the 2019 version of the Sweet Sassy, literally hundreds of friends, family and Valley faithful milled around outside the Rozella clubhouse. Not just friends via the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation, even though many are involved within the school in some way. Most, if not all, were bound through Scott Bibler, to which the Sweet Sassy outing was created.
Bibs, as he was known to most who encountered him, still brings on smiles when people talk about him. While it’s become easier as time is healing the wounds, Saturday was still bittersweet as Bibs’ passing in 2015 – along with Charlie Smith, Scott Smith and Tony Elliott – stunned and crushed so many after that plane crash en route to the Notre Dame-Clemson football game in South Carolina. As the golf outing was mostly jovial, golf emcee Chad Brouyette made sure to remind everyone why they were there, and no one seemed to lose sight of it.
Boganwright remarked in the same way, as an event-best 58 teams were signed up to play Saturday.
“The interest of the people here is tremendous,” Boganwright said, pointing to close to 50 people lined up at the food truck. “These people would be here rain, shine, no matter what. The support for Scott is unbelievable.”
The weather certainly had something to do with the record turnout versus a near monsoon for the 2018 event that had over six inches of rain hit Rozella in the 24 hours before and during last year’s Sassy. But Boganwright noted most of the golf teams were signed up well before this past week, some going back into the spring asking for spots to participate. Merchandise also saw a spike in sales, as the want from the community to promote the cause seems greater than even the first year when the sentiment was freshest.
“Really, we have had teams signing up since the middle of July, it’s been constant and awesome at the same time,” said Boganwright. “We were at capacity on the fifth of August. That’s phenomenal for this. It’s never happened to us before.”
The event isn’t just for a community to celebrate those it lost. Valley tends to take care of its own as well as any community. The advent of the Bib’s Billfold concept last year became a spawn idea that took off better than expected. In 2018, the outing was able to write a check for $26,000 for Bib’s Billfold. This year’s totals hadn’t been fully tabulated as of this writing.
The money is then was allocated to those who needed it, including teachers and students, athletes and otherwise, all for the greater good. The inaugural flag football team at Tippecanoe Valley, which made it all the way to the IHSAA State Finals, used some of Bib’s Billfold to pay for player and team needs in its quest for a state title. Weighted blankets for the special needs classes in the Tippecanoe Valley schools was another avenue the Billfold was able to support.
Boganwright also mentioned event sponsorship was up, and hopes the fifth annual event next year will see a higher threshold of support from community members and businesses wanting to get behind the service event. To learn more about the event, and to further help the cause, visit the outing’s web page.
On the course itself, Jerry Zolman’s team was the overall winner, shooting a 55, one better than the team captained by Luke Delp. Closest to the pin winners were Dave Reuter, Carmen Yeiter and Justin Brady, longest drive winners were Dalton Caley and Ryan Phillips, and putting contest winners were Darren Parker and Nick Fuentes. The 50/50 winner was Felicia Barker-Ray.
It was a fitting scene as Hall of Famer Rita Price and WRSW radio mate Kenny Edwards overlooked the tenth tee doing their radio broadcast. Just hours after Price and Tim Keaffaber followed Tippecanoe Valley football to Culver Academy, she was right back with the Valley faithful. They all were, together united in support, together enjoying being a family. It’s written right on the front of the Sweet Sassy merchandise that was barely left on the tables, “Faith. Family. Friends.”
The fourth annual Sweet Sassy Golf Classic was just that.