Feaganes' Legacy Stamped on Herd's Tourney


Marshall golfing legend Joe Feaganes

Marshall golfing legend Joe Feaganes

Sep 6, 2013

By JACK BOGACZYK

HERDZONE.COM COLUMNIST

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – It was last Friday at Guyan Golf & Country Club, and Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick was providing a few words before the players teed it up for the annual Herd Golf Day fundraiser.

“Mike said we’ve had the Marshall Invitational for 40 some years, but we aren’t going to have it anymore,” said Joe Feaganes, the Thundering Herd coach of four decades who retired last year.

“I’m standing there thinking, ‘What? What the heck is going on?’ Then he said they were putting my name on it. It just blew my mind. Stunned. I was stunned.”

Feaganes, 69, didn’t have to say anything. One of collegiate golf’s icons will now be remembered annually at the Joe Feaganes’ Marshall Invitational, which will be played Monday and Tuesday at Guyan to open the 2013-14 season.

Marshall will play host to a 15-team field. Defending team champion Virginia Tech won’t be back, but the defending individual medalist – Korey Ward – of Xavier will again test the par-71 layout.

Feaganes will be there as he has been – seemingly forever – manning the scoreboard. He coached the Herd from 1972-73 through 2011-12. He was inducted into Marshall Hall of Fame in 2000.

“I’ll tell you what, I was in total shock when it happened,” said Feaganes, who coached 33 of the past 38 West Virginia Amateur champions (you can look it up). “It was a total surprise, really caught me off guard.

“I’m standing out there with the group and Mike makes his remarks and said he was recognizing me, and said it would be the last time … kind of funny. Then he says my name with the tournament and I don’t know what else to say.

“It’s just really special to have Mike and (second-year Herd men’s coach) Matt Grobe to do this. It ranks right up there for me.”

Feaganes was presented with a framed pin flag, emblazoned with “Joe Feaganes’ Marshall Invitational.” They’ll grace the Guyan flagsticks at the tournament for the first time.

“This probably ranks right up there with when I was retiring last year, my wife (Diane) arranged and planned a roast for me at Guyan. She worked on that thing for about a year. It was a very, very special to me. This was, too.”

The recent death of America’s last great career-long amateur – Huntington’s Bill Campbell – brought to mind another Feaganes fact. The retired Herd coach was the runner-up to Campbell when he won his record 15th – and last – State Amateur in 1975.

Starting the next year, when Jay Guthrie won the first of his two State Amateur crowns, only five WVGA Amateur champs have not played for Feaganes. His former volunteer assistant who now works with Grobe – Pat Carter – has won 13 of those.

At The Greenbrier early last month, first-time victor Sam O’Dell became the 12th different Feaganes’ player to win the Amateur. Feaganes also recruited and coached Nathan Kerns of Ironton, who won the 2012 Ohio Amateur before finishing his MU career last spring with an NCAA regionals berth.

Twenty-two golfers coached by Feaganes at Marshall have competed in the U.S. Amateur, too … names like Carter, Payne, Davis, Kies, Westfall, Clark, Fox, Brand, Kerns.

“After everything that Coach Feaganes has done and given to not only Marshall University, but also the men’s golf team, it is really, really nice to have the Marshall Invitational named in his honor,” said Grobe, who lettered at MU and played for Feaganes in 1993-95.

“This will be the 44th Marshall Invitational and Coach got to run 40 of those. Every time we go to an event, all the other coaches there want to make sure to check on Coach and ask us to be sure to give him their best.

“He has had a huge impact on the college golf landscape and I am thrilled his legacy will be remembered through our tournament.”

Feaganes, who lettered in Herd golf from 1964-66 and played in the 1968 U.S. Amateur, said finishing 17th in the NCAA nationals in 1976 “is obviously a highlight. And in 1977, we won the Marshall Invitational for the only time.

“People say we have this tournament and you only won it once, but that’s a testament to the kind of teams we’ve brought in over the years, the strong fields we’ve had.

“It’s a really good event,” Feaganes said. “It’s tough to put into words how honored I am to have my name on there now.”

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Marshall will be joined in the first Feaganes’ Marshall Invitational field by Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Dayton, Eastern Kentucky, High Point, Loyola (Md.), Northern Kentucky, Ohio, Richmond, Western Kentucky, William & Mary, Wright State and Xavier.

An 8:30 a.m. shotgun start for 36 holes of play is scheduled Monday, with 18 holes wrapping up the three-round tournament on Tuesday.

Three of Feaganes’ players over the years were Marshall Invitational individual champions – Harold Payne (1976), Scott Davis (1978) and Jonathan Clark (1996).

The Herd has been a team runner-up four times (1968, ’76, ’83 and last year), when the Herd tied Ohio State, 17 shots behind the champion Hokies.

The Buckeyes have won 19 of the previous 43 titles. Big Ten Conference teams have won 28 of the 43 tournaments.