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Connie Morris remembered in golf tournament

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by Pat Nolan

SBJ Contributing Writer

The first annual Connie Morris Memorial Golf Tournament benefiting Ozarks Public Television will be held Aug. 28, 1998, at Rivercut Golf Course.

"My family and I are pleased to kick off this tournament in memory of Connie. Connie was a great athlete who excelled at many sports, but golf was her great love," said her husband, Springfield businessman Jim Morris.

"We are honored that Jim Morris and his family have chosen Ozarks Public Television as the beneficiary of the Connie Morris Memorial Golf Tournament," said Mary Kay Meek, a member of the Ozarks Public Television board of directors. "I think Connie would be pleased at the station's selection, because Ozarks Public Television touches the lives of so many children through our educational programming."

The tournament will have shotgun starts at 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

A mixture of front-to-back tee settings will be used, and prizes awarded will include individual low score, two-person team best ball and a hole-in-one. The prizes will be awarded to four places in each flight with an estimated four or five flights. The entry fee is $150 per player.

The prizes are pro-shop gift certificates, with first place being $450 per team. Second place is $250 per team. Third and fourth places are $200 and $100, respectively.

Financially the tournament is already a success. "We've raised over $100,000," Meek said.

Meek was planning a golf tournament to benefit Ozarks Public Television and asked Morris if he would consider a memorial tournament.

"We wanted something different than the run-of-the-mill tournament," Morris said. "(Connie) was interested in seeing that the man on the street got a chance to learn how to play golf. She really wanted to see other people get to play and become proficient at it."

Connie was more comfortable at the public golf courses than the private golf courses, Morris said. Rivercut is a public course designed by Ken Dye. The course features a links-style frontside and a more traditional backside.

The course will host not only the tournament, but a free clinic for kids the weekend prior to the tournament. Aug. 22 and 23 there will be a free clinic for less fortunate children, to be taught by golf pros. Golf clubs will be provided for the children from donated golf clubs and bags.

The clinic is being underwritten by NationsBank and Thompson Cadillac. Morris said the goal is "to start young people out in a sport that they can carry on through their lives."

"Connie was very generous in her teaching of golf," said Dorl Sweet, director of golf at Rivercut. "She helped a lot of people."

And she continues to do so.

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