As the number of junior golf tournaments in the area increased, the number of participants in Baltimore's oldest junior event kept dropping. What once was a tournament for more than 100 players had trouble attracting half that number.
John Albert, who as director of golf at the Hunt Valley Golf Club helped run the Jimmy Flattery Junior Golf Tournament, said "it gradually got to the point about 10 or 12 years ago where it was going to be hard to sustain."
Albert got in touch with Todd Dorsey, the pro at Fox Hollow in Timonium, who in 2007 had started the Junior Golf Tour of Baltimore, a series of tournaments held over the spring and summer. Albert and Dorsey combined forces, with the Flattery tournament joining what is now the Junior Golf Tour of Maryland.
"It's been a great relationship," Albert said. "The ability to have their support and have them promote it has really energized the whole thing the past four or five years."
Said Dorsey: "It's been a good marriage. Together we've grown. The Flattery has come back to prominence, and our tour has grown significantly."
Monday, the 77th Jimmy Flattery Junior Golf Tournament will be played at Hunt Valley. While it is now a one-day stroke-play event for junior golfers ages 8 to 18, Albert is hopeful that one day it might go back to its roots as a match-play event.
The family of Jimmy Flattery — a local pro who started the event after returning from World War II and who died in 1992 — is appreciative that the tournament has continued. It is one of the oldest junior events in the country.
"He's very gracious carrying on that tradition," Bill Flattery, a nephew of Jimmy Flattery, said of Albert, who has been at Hunt Valley, in two stints, from 1979 until 1991 and again since 1996. "Jimmy is watching down from somewhere."
Among the tournament traditions are a one-hole event for children ages 2 to 5 and a three-hole competition for ages 6 to 8. That part of the event was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, and each participant received a small trophy.
"Jimmy [would rent] a Good Humor truck for the day and everyone who played got all the ice cream they wanted from the truck," recalled Bill Flattery, who played in the main tournament as a teenager and eventually became a golf pro himself.
Over the years, the Flattery tournament has attracted the area's most promising players. Among them was Carol Mann, who moved to Baltimore from Chicago, became a protege of Flattery's and eventually went on to a Hall of Fame career in the LPGA. Another was Jenny Chuasiriporn, a Hunt Valley member, who became one of the nation's top amateur players, nearly winning the 1998 U.S. Women's Open while still at Duke.
This year's most celebrated entrant is Jimmy Grem, a 17-year-old club member at Hunt Valley who recently made it through the local qualifying round for this year's U.S. Amateur.
"Almost every good amateur player [participates]," Bill Flattery said. "I can think of two or three [who] became golf professionals and very successfully. Carol Mann was certainly the most prominent female player, probably the most prominent player ever."