ORLANDO, Fla (May 2, 2012) -- What a fabulous four days the 82 players in the 2012 SOS John Kline Super Seniors Championships enjoyed at the pristine and perfectly-conditioned Country Club of Orlando this week. Not only was the great General Kline on sight himself as he competed in the first two rounds, but the SOS players and many Country Club of Orlando members enjoyed a very nostalgic and moving dinner Tuesday night when the SOS and the CCoC honored Dr. John McKey -- a founding member of the Society and a long-time member of the CCoC. Now 94 years old, Dr. McKey was introduced by his namesake son and fellow SOS member John McKey Jr. and General Kline became very emotional as he recounted how Dr. McKey had once come to the instant medical aid of one of the General's infant daughters.
The 2012 Kline was played under perfect weather and playing conditions each day. Set on about 100 acres just off downtown Orlando, the Country Club of Orlando is a classic Donald Ross course that offers small greens with numerous false fronts, penal fairway bunkering in the landing areas -- and enough oak trees and pines and drooping Spanish moss for a Norman Rockwell painting. The at least 600-year old Oak tree at the right corner of the par-five 14th hole is affectionately known to the Club members as "Willie Mays". As Chip Landon explained, like the Say Hey Kid, Old No. 24 himself, Willie Mays catches everything hit right off the 14th tee.
The Kline produced four very deserving champions.
In the 65-to-69 division, Pat Vincelli of Rosemount, Minnesota, blistered the par-72 layout with an outstanding three-under par 69 in the final round for a three-round score of 219 -- three under par -- to beat Arnold Edwards of Charlotte, North Carolina, John Baldwin of West Palm Beach, Florida, and John Casstevens of Glen Allen, Virginia, by two shots. Vincelli and his wife spent the tournament as the house guests of SOS and CCoC member Chip Landon, whose residence overlooks the 11th green. "Chip told me at breakfast that I'd shoot 69 today," Vincelli said, shaking his head.
In the 70-74 division, Russ Berkoben of Naples, Florida, and Perrysburgh, Ohio, fired a final-round 71 -- one- under par -- to eke out a one-stroke victory over Jim Holbrook of North Andover, Massachusetts. Walt Martin of Oakton, Virginia, was three strokes back at 226.
The 75-79 year-old competition produced a very familiar winner as Claud Johnston of Ann Arbor, Michigan, followed his triumphs in the SOS Senior Masters and the SOS Spring Classic with a playoff victory over Sonny Holt of Leeds, Alabama. Johnston took a six-stroke lead into the final round but needed to hole a 30-foot twister on the final green for an 83 that got him into the playoff with Holt. Johnston won the playoff with a routine par-four on the first hole.
It was a battle of transplanted Minnesotans in the 80-plus division as Bob Harris, now of Boynton Beach, Florida, defeated Bud Chapman, now of Treasure Island, Florida, for the championship.
As the SOS players departed from the Club after the final round on Wednesday, they were still talking about the wonderful tribute that was bestowed on Dr. McKey the previous evening at a very lavish dinner at the Club. The Club presented a proclamation to Dr. McKey that cited his countless achievements in golf and declared Wednesday as "Dr. John McKey Day." . Dr. McKey has shot or beat his age more than 2500 times. One day a CCoC member happened to pass the then 86-year old Dr. McKey in the Club's locker room and asked innocently if the Doctor had shot his age that day. "Gosh, I didn't play that badly," the Doctor said. Back in the early 1960s the Doctor and his namesake son John both qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship in Des Moines. The Doctor squared off against Gary Cowan, the finest amateur in Canada, and quickly sent him packing after making seven 3s and seven 4s over the first 14 holes.
For the SOS, the CCoC was perfect in every way -- on and off the course. We offer a very special thanks to our fellow SOS members -- and longtime CCoC members -- Chip Landon, Hammer Ward and Austin Jones for helping to make our visit possible. And for making all of us feel right at home in a very special place.
View results for Society of Seniors John Kline Super Seniors Golf Championship