Golf tournament funds scholarship in boy's memory
SIKESTON -- A group of high school boys and the Bootheel Men's Golf Association took time last weekend to remember their friend and fellow golfer, Jonathan K. Spence, who died June 29 in a mo-ped accident.
As they remembered Spence with a benefit golf tournament, they were able to heal some of their wounds in the process.
"After Jonathan passed away, nobody knew what to think," said Matt Bain, 16. "I think the tournament helped people feel better by helping out in some way -- either by donating or playing in the tournament."
Sikeston High School golf team members Bain, E.C. Atchison, 15, and Edward Pike, 17, were instrumental in seeing the tournament through. With the help of the Bootheel Men's Golf Association, they began planning for the event in August.
Both groups met every Tuesday to discuss the tournament. Generally on Fridays, members of Sikeston High School's golf team would go out into the community and ask for donations, Pike said.
"We did well financially," Bain said. "We were afraid we wouldn't have a big turnout, but we had a really good turnout."
A total of 40 two-person teams competed in the benefit tournament on Saturday and Sunday. Over $4,000 was raised for the Jonathan Spence Golf Scholarship fund.
"It was absolutely great," said Jeff Ketterman, co-owner of the Bootheel Golf Club. "The tournament was a success. Matt Bain and the high school boys certainly did Jonathan justice with their enthusiasm of going out and getting donations."
Bain alone raised over $2,000. He said he surprised himself a little bit by all of the work he put into the benefit. "I'm not an organized person by any means," he added.
Brenda Spence, Jonathan's mother spoke to the players and also played in the tournament. "I think the benefit really helped his mom and it helped all of us," Bain noted.
Both the Bootheel Golf Club and the Sikeston Country Club donated $500 to the fund. Nearly $300 was raised at the tournament.
"We had a good turnout. Everyone came and showed their support," Pike said.
The Men's Golf Association also worked hard on the benefit. Ketterman said the weekend couldn't have been more perfect and the course was in excellent condition. They plan to make the tournament annual event, holding it around this time each year.
Spence was a member of the Sikeston High School golf team and a state qualifier. Last year, he placed 16th at state. Bain said the boys just wanted to do something to remember Spence.
"I'm glad we did it and it probably meant more this year than it ever will," Bain said.
"Matt Bain just really took on a lot of responsibility," said Sikeston High School golf coach Rick Oetting. "All the boys were tremendous. More than a dozen of them helped out."
As their coach, Oetting has seen a change in his players over the last three months. "I think the boys have gotten closer since Jonathan's death. They've realized how fragile life is," Oetting said.
They've grown up on the golf course together, Oetting said. They've spent a lifetime at playing golf. Oetting even thinks the boys are determined to try and win state this year.
"The boys were tremendous," Oetting said about his team's involvement in the tournament. "It would be easy to take all the credit, but the boys made it happen."
Sikeston High School senior golfers and players from the Bootheel Conference are eligible for the scholarship, which will be awarded annually in $1,000-increments.