Tom Berry epitomizes what the Roman Open golf tournament is all about.

Along with Kirk Malerbi, Pete Purvis and Thomas Dannemiller, Berry played during the morning round of the 32nd Corterra/Dalton Golf and Country Club Roman Open on Monday morning, then served in his capacity as a volunteer the rest of the day.

It was an 11-hour day and he loved every minute.

“The nicest thing about the Roman Open is that all the money stays in Whitfield and Murray counties,” said Berry, whose foursome won the third flight with a 10-under 60. “Nobody takes home a big check from here who is associated with the tournament. We’re all volunteers and that enables the people in our community to benefit from what we’re doing.”

The personable Berry is a 12-year member of the Roman Open board and praises the way Daltonians come together to organize and make the tournament such a success. The 2006 tournament raised a record $70,000 for charities in Whitfield and Murray counties, and board members are hoping for $75,000 from Monday’s event.

Berry and his wife, Carolyn, who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, were in charge of posting scores and handing out prizes to the participants.

“We moved here from Ohio in 1994 and just fell in love with the people of Dalton,” Berry said. “I’ve played in twelve of the tournaments despite 10 heart bypasses, five each in two different surgeries, a pacemaker that’s guaranteed for 100,000 miles, a stroke and hip replacement.”

Berry, who said he’s played on three winning teams in the tournament, was born and lived in Coshocton, Ohio, until moving to Dalton. He’s been playing golf for 62 years.

Berry started caddying at a Coshocton golf course when he was 8 years old for 50 cents per round. At age 12, he was making 75 cents per round, eventually working his way up to mowing the greens and getting paid $7 per week.

“In the old days, you worked to eat,” he said. “When I was 14, I cheated on my age to work in the factory and made 57 cents an hour.”

Now retired from Lyle Industries, Berry’s foursome had an excellent front side Monday morning, recording seven birdies in the first nine holes. They had three more on the back nine.

“We had a good string going on the front, but that came to a screeching halt on the back,” Berry said. “We’ve had some good teams in the past and our lowest score was probably a 57 or 58, but on any given day you can be terrible.”

That certainly wasn’t the case Monday.



Tournament flight winners:



Morning

— First Flight — 1. Andy White, Joe Sumislawski, Steve White, Steven Grubbs (27-28-55). 2. Crutchie Crutchfield, Greg Causby, Lane Ashworth, Matt Hughes (26-29-56). 3. David Kemp, Jeff Browne, John Draper, Werner Braun (27-29-56).

— Second Flight — 1. Jimmy Rogers, Mark Cline, Sparky Roberts, Terry Wilson (28-28-56). 2. Joel Reynolds, Lamar Morgan, Shane Day, Tim Brown (26-32-58). 3. Danny Seale, John Hyder, Johnny West, Robert White (28-31-59).

— Third Flight — Kirk Malerbi, Pete Purvis, Thomas Dannemiller, Tom Berry (27-33-60). 2. Ed Johnson, Greg Guagenti, Jerry Brennan, Tim Toole (28-32-60). 3. Ben Barbree, Joey Jenkins, J.R. Sheriff, Lamar Reynolds (30-31-61).

— Closest to the pin — No. 6, Pete Purvis. No. 9, Steven Grubbs. No. 14, David McCreery.



Afternoon

— First Flight — Bill Davies, Greg Brock, Lamar Lyle, Matt Jackson (27-27-54). 2. Dwight Hefner, Matt Oxford, Scott Austin, Andy Oxford (25-29-54). 3. Brian Millican, Jerry Nealey, Pete Daffron, Steven Nealey (28-28-56).

— Second Flight — Bo Newberry, Eddie Mowles, Gary McKeehan, George King (27-26-53). 2. Chad Painter, Chris Cooper, Jamey Dukes, Paul Perdue (25-29-54). 3. Dale Cruse, Randy Hill, Eric Kyer, Kevin Kyer (28-28-56).

— Third Flight — David Cottongin, Jay Henry, Mike Oric, Stan Fisher (28-29-57). 2. Albert Ertel, Blake Adcock, Jeff Myers, Scott Garrett (29-29-58). 3. John Busey, Kirk Malerbi, Nick Malerbi, Thomas Dannemiller (29-30-59).

— Closest to the pin — No. 6, Brian Wilson. No. 9, John Draper. No. 14, Kevin Kyer.

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