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Dream comes true for Ventura with the first Loyola invitational


It is a lineup that was once only a dream for Loyola Colleg golf coach Mike Ventura.

An institution in the Loyola family, Ventura, in his 22nd season as the leader of Greyhounds golf, will achieve one of his longtime goals when his team plays host to the first Loyola Invitation Tournament.

The 18-team, 36-hole event will be held tomorrow and Tuesday at Hunt Valley Golf Club.

After moving up to Division 1 from College Division, it took several years to make a dent in Eastern circles, but finally, with teams headed first by Joe Franz and then Tom Gramigna, the program has earned respect.

Along the way, there have been six conference titles, a finish as high as fourth (last year) in the Eastern championships, and a successful fall program in which the school ranked sixth in NCAA District II. Seven of those top 10 teams are in the tournament field.

"Right now, I think we're holding our own in a bigger pond," says Ventura. "There is more awareness of our program by high school students, and we are able to attract quality people with our school [academics] and our golf."

Two of the schools in this week's field bring in local players, Doug Dollenberg, a junior and No. 1 player at Bucknell, and Joe Plecker at Seton Hall.

Completing the field are Bryant, Delaware, Fairleigh Dickinson, George Mason, Georgetown, Iona, James Madison, La Salle, Lehigh, Penn State, Rutgers, St. Joseph's, Temple, Villanova, and William & Mary.

Successful opening

A record gathering of 230 women was on hand to hear about the Executive Women's Golf League in an informal meeting at Turf Valley Country Club last week.

Nancy Oliver of West Palm Beach, Fla., the organization's

national president, said she was surprised at the turnout, especially considering the cold, rainy weather.

"An average opening meeting gets about 90-100," she said. "This is amazing, and a tribute to the organizing committee. I'd say this is now officially a chapter of the EWGL. We have them in 25 cities across the country, and expect to add another 15 or so by this summer."

Chris Owens, a Towson lawyer and the coordinator/president of the Baltimore chapter, directed the program, assisted by board members Nancy Trail, Joan Clark and Bonnie Records, among others.

Chapter clinics begin April 6, at Turf Valley CC.

Tournament to benefit RP

Former British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch, playing blindfolded, shot 58 for nine holes and defeated Worth Dalton, vice president of the U.S. Blind Golfers Association, by four strokes in a match held recently over the front nine of the Eagle Pines Course at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

At the post-event news conference, Baker-Finch was asked if he had ever seen the course. The native of Australia, who has been on the PGA Tour since the fall of 1988, had to admit he had played it in a more conventional way several years before.

The tournament will benefit the Baltimore-based RP Foundation Fighting Blindness, for which Dalton is a volunteer spokesman.

A difficult loss

The national golf community in general and the local area in particular was saddened by the recent death of Lester Barker, following a stroke at his Galesville home.

At the national level, Barker, 67, was a recognized rules official, a USGA rules official since 1980, and more recently a sectional affairs committeeman. Additionally, he was a fixture as a rules official at Middle Atlantic tournaments.

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