The Father-Son Classic Team Classic has honored athletes, politicians and hall of fame football coaches, among others, as its Father of the Year. As the centerpiece event of Family Golf Week prepares for year 26, tournament organizers have looked within for its most coveted award.
Family Golf Week has named Charles (Chuck) Martin II and Dick Kijowski, both of whom have played in every event, its co-Fathers of the Year, the first time event participants have won the prestigious honor.
The tournament has spanned three generations of Martins, with Chuck serving as the bond. He began playing in the event with his father Charles Martin I and the duo relished the opportunity to spend a week in Myrtle Beach competing and enjoying the camaraderie the tournament fosters.
Unfortunately, cancer claimed the elder Martin’s life five years ago, setting the stage for an emotional but natural transition.
“He was the best man in my wedding and one of my best friends throughout life,” Chuck said of his father. “I’m just hoping I can do that for my son.”
Charles (Chucky) Martin III was just 16 at the time of his grandfather’s passing, but he was already a skilled player before taking his place alongside his father in the tournament.
The event has long doubled as a family vacation – Chuck’s wife and his mom once won the Mother-Daughter Team Classic – and the hope is the entire crew can make it down from their home in Elkton, Md., to celebrate Chuck’s award.
The Father-Son has been an integral part of Kijowski family bond as well. Dick and his son Keith have collected many memories, in addition to the frustration of competition, over the years.
“The laughs are something to really look forward to,” Dick said. “We always have great stories with the alternate shot, but I don’t think I can repeat the language!”
Both Keith (53 years old) and Dick (77 years old) live around Rochester, N.Y., and when they started playing in the event Keith was single, now he is the father of 24 and 20-year-old children.
When the tournament began Dick was, in his words, “not much of a golfer,” but quality of play has never defined their experience at Father-Son Team Classic.
“There are ups and downs (playing) and you wonder what we are doing, but it always brings us back,” Dick said. “There are so many great memories and a lot of laughs.”
After watching the likes of legendary football coach Lou Holtz and 1960 World Series MVP Bobby Richardson earn Father of the Year honors, Kijowski never imagined he would one day win the award.
“I was at a loss for words,” Dick said of learning he was being named Father of the Year. “I was honored and I was blessed.”
That final sentiment is one shared by Keith Kijowski and Chucky Martin when thinking about the impact of their dads, and that’s why they were named Fathers of the Year.