published Thursday, May 26th, 2011

New Lupton honor

Lupton Invitational/Memorial past champions

Mid-Amateurs

2005: Danny Green

2006: Danny Green

2007: Michael Morrison

2008: Doug Hanzel

2009: Tim Jackson

2010: Parker Smith

Seniors

2005: Paul Schlachter

2006: Mike Bell

2007: Paul Simson

2008: Paul Simson

2009: Paul Simson

2010: Chip Lutz

The Honors Course creator Jack Lupton, member Lex Tarumianz and a handful of others began the Lupton Invitational golf tournament in 2005 before that year’s U.S. Mid-Amatuer Championship at the famed course in Ooltewah.

They wanted to give mid-amateur golfers a look at the course before the USGA championship event.

Even though the U.S. Mid-Am moved on, the Lupton Invitational became an annual event held on Memorial Day weekend — except for last year, when the club hosted the NCAA men’s championship.

The tournament will begin again Friday with some of the best mid-amateurs and senior amateurs in the country playing the Pete Dye course.

But it will do so under a different name. It is now known as the John T. Lupton Memorial.

“It’s going to be a bit bittersweet that he’s not around, but you know he had inputs and thoughts into the Invitational,” said Honors Course member and past tournament champion Tim Jackson of Germantown, Tenn. “It’s a little different — he’s certainly missed — but he has everything in place.

“They have good leadership and they won’t miss a beat.”

Lupton died May 16, 2010, after work had begun on the 2010 Lupton Invitational and just weeks before the competition.

The name change is tough for some Honors Course members and officials to absorb. Instinctively, they’ve called it the Invitational before correcting themselves.

“It’s a hard thing to realize he’s not here anymore,” said club member and tournament participant Julian Saul. “Without [Lupton] there’d be nothing here.”

The tournament will be almost exactly the same — three days of competition from about 100 players with the field split almost equally between nationally recognized seniors and mid-amateurs including Jackson, Mike McCoy, Parker Smith and Kris Mikkelson.

“The name change was a no-brainer,” said course assistant professional and tournament coordinator Bruce Bowen. “The tournament is named after him, and with it being on Memorial Day weekend, it’s the least the tournament can do.”

Lupton’s impact on the Chattanooga area is immeasurable. So is his impact on amateur golf in Tennessee. Once he and The Honors Course began hosting the State Amateur, other elite courses and clubs wanted to do the same.

“This was 12, maybe 15 years ago, and he said, ‘Lex, I’ve done a lot for this town, but the best thing I did, and my favorite, is The Honors Course,’” Tarumianz, a tournament committee member, said as he walked the seventh hole last week.

“He loved the place. He didn’t come out here much the last five years of his life. But up until that stroke, he was out here all the time,” Tarumianz said. “There are many stories about him, but the bottom line was that this was his baby, and therefore I think it’s appropriate we name it the Memorial and it will go on for years and years.”

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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