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Published: Sunday, 8/10/2003

Silverman, Farr, Weber to enter hall of fame

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Jamie Farr Kroger Classic takes center stage this week at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania. It will do the same in October when the fifth class of inductees joins the Toledo Golf Hall of Fame.

Judd Silverman, the Farr Classic's founder and director, will join the tournament's namesake, actor Jamie Farr, and Harold Weber in the Class of 2003.

Weber, Toledo's first amateur star, never heard of the Farr Classic. But he, too, is tied to the event considering he designed Highland Meadows, the Farr's home since 1989.

The tournament began at the old Glengarry Country Club, now known as Stone Oak, in 1984 on pretty much a hope and a prayer by Silverman. It has evolved into a $1 million annual event that is considered among the finest and best attended on the LPGA Tour.

Most importantly, to Silverman, the event has raised more than $3.8 million for local children's charities in less than two decades.

Could he have imagined such success?

“No, of course not,” Silverman said. “It was just an idea and we went at it on a wing and a prayer. We wanted to do it right and just hoped for the best. We always hoped the tournament we were working on would lead to another one the following year.

“It has worked because of the tremendous help from great sponsors, committed volunteers, supportive fans and a wonderful staff. They're the ones who have molded the Jamie Farr into a fun annual event that helps children's charities.”

Silverman was molded, to a large degree, by his late father, Burt Silverman, who was president of Downtown Toledo Associates and, for some 25 years, chairman of the Board of Community Relations.

“My dad loved people, he loved Toledo and he loved promoting Toledo,” Judd said. “I guess that's where I get it from. And if anybody wants to compare the two of us in that regard, I take it as a great compliment.”

Few, though, ever compared their golf games. Burt Silverman took to the sport late in life and, according to his son, was never an accomplished player.

But he introduced the game to Judd, who went on to win junior titles as well as the Toledo District Match Play Championship.

However, no one ever said you have to be a championship-caliber player to love the game.

It is that love affair, and the community service that has resulted from it, that will send Jamie Farr into the local golf hall of fame.

One of the city's great ambassadors, the north Toledo native who starred as Corporal Max Klinger on the hit TV series M*A*S*H was one of the first people contacted by Silverman when the tournament was being organized in the early 1980s.

A resident of California, Farr returns to Toledo each summer and brings a number of his friends along for the event's celebrity pro-am.

He is involved with the tournament's annual dinner-show, plays in early-week pro-am competitions and is always on hand come late Sunday afternoon of tournament week to present the winning golfer with the first-place check.

“It is really hard to believe that 19 years have gone by working with Jamie,” Silverman said. “I just admire him so much. I think he's a great role model. We should all be so grateful for his loyalty to this community and, of course, the tournament.

“What you see is what you get with Jamie. He is genuine, caring, funny and a great friend. It has been an honor to be associated with him and I hope we both have a bunch of years left.

“Jamie has mentioned to me what an honor it is for him to be included in the hall of fame and he said he's going to make every effort to be here for the [induction] ceremonies in October.

“I am similarly honored. I'm aware of who has been inducted in previous years and I'm flattered that I've been selected to join them. It's a privilege to go in with Jamie and it's ironic that Harold Weber is the third inductee. With him having designed Highland Meadows, it sort of brings all three of us together.”

Although the Toledo Golf Hall of Fame is only five years old, Weber's induction is already overdue. Not only was he the city's first golfing star and a 14-time club champion at Inverness Club, where he was a founding member, he was also Toledo's first golfer to be noted on statewide and national levels. He was a four-time Ohio Amateur champion.

He studied golf course design at the hands of S.P. Jermain, who built the Ottawa Park course, and observed as the legendary Donald Ross produced the championship course at Inverness.

Weber, who died in 1933, designed courses at Sunningdale (now Tamaron), Chippewa and Riverby Hills, but his best layout was his first - Highland Meadows opened in 1925 - and that was obviously influenced to some degree by Ross' then-recent work at Inverness.

“Highland Meadows and Inverness are both beautiful parkland courses where you can see some similar bunkering, similar contours in greens and a similar use of topography,” Silverman said. “So, perhaps, Weber brought some of the Ross influence with him when he designed Highland Meadows. Like Inverness, it's a very natural fit with the land that was available.”

And it's a natural fit that three men who, directly or indirectly, have played key roles in the Farr Classic are entering the Toledo Golf Hall of Fame at the same time.



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