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Perry recognized with Hitchcock-Whitney Award for service to Aiken golf community

Posted: August 9, 2017 - 12:56am
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Skipper Perry, who died in June, was honored on Tuesday night at Palmetto Golf Club with the Hitchcock-Whitney Award for his contributions to Aiken golf.
Skipper Perry, who died in June, was honored on Tuesday night at Palmetto Golf Club with the Hitchcock-Whitney Award for his contributions to Aiken golf.

AIKEN - When Berry Crain and Skipper Perry started the Aiken Golf Classic in 1976, little did they know that their local event would grow into the nationally recognized Palmetto Amateur.

Perry was posthumously honored the night before the start of 42nd edition of the tournament with the Hitchcock-Whitney Award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to golf in Aiken. He joined Crain, who died in 2015, and a handful of past recipients who have shaped the local golf scene.

Perry died in June, but his family and friends remembered the longtime businessman and politician for his generosity and love of the game.

"It's pretty amazing to be here tonight and see how this tournament has grown," said Brad Crain, tournament director.

Perry's widow, Anne, and one of his sons, Stanley, accepted the award.

"Together they were a winning team," Anne Perry said of her husband and Crain.

Gene McClure, an Atlanta attorney and well-known volunteer in national golf events, spoke about his longtime friend.

"This award is appropriate for recognizing his legacy," McClure said. "He was a larger-than-life character, but he was so much more to everyone who knew him."

The Hitchcock-Whitney Award is just the latest honor for Perry, who also received the Order of the Palmetto and was recognized as Aiken Man of the Year for his community endeavors.

"His devotion to service will always be with us," McClure said.

Also Tuesday night, the golfers in the field - featuring international players and competitors representing 14 states and 50 colleges - heard from Martin Davis, editor and publisher of The American Golfer. A leading authority on golf history who has been involved with three-dozen books on the game, Davis made a case for Bobby Jones as perhaps the greatest player ever.

Davis said Jones was the "model for the complete golfer, was supremely gifted, highly intelligent and had great character. He combined all of these traits to achieve great heights in the game of golf."

"He's the sainted Bobby Jones to me, and he should be to you too," Davis said.

Jones was a child prodigy, but endured the seven lean years as he failed to win a major national event. That soon changed and Jones went on a tear from 1923-1930, culminating with the Grand Slam. He won the U.S. Open, British Open, British Amateur and U.S. Amateur in 1930, then suddenly retired at the age of 28.

"He was something we'd never seen before and we've never seen since," Davis said.

Jones went on to create Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament. The U.S. Golf Association named its highest honor for him; according to its website, the Bob Jones Award is given to a person who "demonstrates the spirit, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones."

"Bob Jones was a great guy," an emotional Davis said. "And I think he was the best ever."

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Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337

or john.boyette@augustachronicle.com.

 

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