By Cynthia Thuma
DELRAY BEACH — When the Sandoway East Handicap golf tournament was first announced in December 1934, its creators hoped the match-play event would blossom into one of the nation’s most prestigious amateur events.
The first year’s event took place in early March 1935, and its results tended to confirm the rosy outlook for the event. Michiganders, like the city’s pioneer settlers, figured prominently in the results. William McWane, from Birmingham, shot 75 to win the qualifying round, including a hole-in-one on the Delray Beach Golf Club’s eighth hole.
Roger Keeney, of Grand Rapids, won the second flight, defeating Mike Blank, of Delray Beach, 4 and 3 in the final round.
The event’s top prize — first prize in the championship flight — was won by a scion of the Roosevelt family, Oliver W. Roosevelt, a winter resident of Delray Beach and cousin of the president. Roosevelt defeated local attorney C.Y. Byrd in the final round.
In the consolation flight, Fred Bascom, of Chicago, defeated J. Leslie Brown, owner of the Sandoway East lodge and cottages.
Roosevelt actually retired the cup, by winning the tournament in its second year, 1936, as well. The tournament continued through World War II, then faded to black.
More than six decades later, Alieda Riley, a board member and volunteer at the Sandoway House Nature Center, happened across some stories about the tournament.
“I was researching something else and came across them,” she said. Riley discussed what she’d found with Sandoway House staff. “One thing led to another,” she said.
A decision was made to resurrect the tournament as a fund-raising event for the nature center, starting in 1999.
The distinctive original silver cup, which had over the years disappeared, was replaced by one donated by tennis great Jeanne Evert Dubin.
IF You Go
This year’s event is scheduled for April 17 on the Breakers West’s Rees Jones course. The day’s activities start at noon, with registration and a box lunch. The field heads out to the course with a shotgun start at 1:30. After the round concludes, the social events begin at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception, buffet and awards ceremony.
The cost to participate is $225 per golfer or $900 per foursome. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Player and sponsor registration forms are available at the Sandoway House’s Web site, www.sandowayhouse.com