CULLMAN — This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the Buck Shear Memorial Golf Tournament, an event named after the man who played a crucial role in bringing golf to Cullman.
Shear won the event, which was originally called the Cullman County Championship, several times, so after he passed away, the tournament was renamed in order to remember his contributions to the local golf community.
“When he passed away, it was a way for people to pay tribute to Buck and what he meant in this area as far as golf was concerned,” said Dan York, Wallace State’s golf coach.
York said he knew Shear growing up and was friends with his son, Buddy. He recalled Buck often helping younger golfers develop their skills.
“He would take the time to help the young players understand the game,” York said. “It meant a lot to everyone but more especially to people like myself who took the game seriously and wanted to become better players.”
So 30 years later, the event still honors Buck. Buddy learned the game of golf from his dad and competes in the tournament every year.
Another member of the family will be among this year’s competitors. Joey Shear, Buck’s grandson, will join the field for a second time. Joey admits he’s more of a baseball player and isn’t very good at golf. But for the Shears, this tournament isn’t about the scores — it’s about being a family.
In 2010, the first year he participated, Joey didn’t tell his father he was entering the tournament. He decided to surprise him instead.
“Ches (Harris) teamed us up together. It was Saturday morning about 7 a.m., and my dad didn’t know who his partner was,” Joey said. “All his golfing buddies were in on it, and I got on his golf cart and had his clubs with me surprising him. He was almost in tears. It meant a lot to him.”
Joey said his only job before competing in the tournament was handing the trophy to the winner. According to Ches Harris, Cullman Golf Course director, Buck’s wife, Shirley, was originally in charge of that task.
Even when he played, Joey still helped his brother, Jake, present the trophy. Their oldest brother, Josh, lives in Florida now, so Joey said he plans to stick with the tradition.
“It’s been my role my whole life, and it means a lot to Jake to have his brother with him,” Joey said.
Buck died three years before Joey was born. Joey feels honored to play in Buck’s name.
“Playing in the tourney makes me feel closer to him,” he said.
York said he started playing the in Cullman County Championship around 1966, so it’s special to still be able to compete. He’s only missed four or five of the tournaments and enjoys the event’s rich tradition.
There are currently about 35 people signed up for this year’s tournament, but Harris said he expects a field of 50-60 by the weekend. Registration for the 36-hole event ends Thursday evening, and then competition will begin Saturday.
After the opening round, the golfers will be separated by flights for the final day of play.
Last year’s winner was Shane Childers, who told Harris he planned to play again this year.
The memorial tournament extends past Cullman County. Childers, from Rogersville, Ala., drove south to participate, and Harris said golfers from locations like Birmingham and Montgomery also regularly compete.
Laura Owens can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.