Golf: Recalling the day JoAnne Carner stopped by Shelby Oaks

While preparing to play in the Ladies Shelby County Open at Shelby Oaks Golf Course in Sidney 10 days ago, 18-year-old Emily Knouff did something that would overshadow her victory in the tournament the next day.

Knouff, who normally plays from longer yardages than those at the women’s tees, played a practice round from the red tees.

Afterward, she informed Shelby Oaks golf professional Rob Fridley that she had made an 18-hole score of 67.

“I thought the ladies record out here was 69 and I thought there was quite a story behind it. So I called (former club pro) Bob Eilert to confirm,” Fridley told Sidney Daily News sports writer Ken Barhorst.

Eilert said the 69 was recorded 41 years ago by JoAnne Carner, yes the same JoAnne Carner who is one of the most accomplished female golfers of all-time.

How did JoAnne Carner happen to be playing at Shelby Oaks? She was having her Airstream trailer serviced at the factory center a few miles up the road in Jackson Center. While there she visited Shelby Oaks to play golf.

Fridley, who was a teenage worker at Shelby Oaks at the time, actually saw Carner play a few holes. He remembers not only how long her drives were but how she repeatedly hit the middle of the fairway.

As for Knough (pronounced Noff), she has been taught by Fridley, his son, Nate, and assistant Craig Seving since she visited Shelby Oaks to take a lesson as a seventh-grader.

Fridley told me he doesn’t give youngsters a second lesson until after they have spent some time practicing. Knough, who is left-handed, returned to the course the next two days and practiced for three hours. That convinced Fridley she was serious.

Knough, who is going into her senior year at Fort Loramie High School, has won two Southern Ohio PGA Junior Tour events this summer and finished second to Marissa Wenzler at PipeStone on Thursday.

A week ago she tied for first in the 16-19 age group at the Women’s Ohio State Golf Association Junior Championship at Marion Country Club

She has a scholarship to play golf at Ball State University.

Block wins another: While most of us are sleeping in the wee hours of the morning, Steve Block is loading a semi truck with pallets of Pepsi-Cola and then distributing them to big box stores in Dayton and the Miami Valley.

His work is completed by 10 a.m.

“It frees me up during the day,” he said, “but sometimes I’m too tired to play golf.”

The 54-year-old Block won his third straight City Senior Men’s Amateur Match Play Championship last Sunday when he nipped longtime rival Mike Dempsey, 1-up, at Madden Golf Course.

It was a see-saw match in which neither of them could lead by more than one hole. Dempsey, who has five city championships and one senior title to his name, had been 1-up after nine.

Block had to make a remarkable comeback in a semifinal match with Ted Harker on Saturday to get into the final. Harker had him 4 down after 13 holes, but Block rallied to win four of the last five holes to tie the match. He won it on the second extra hole.

Block is a former basketball star at Chaminade Julienne High School who played college ball at Nebraska Western College and Ashland University.

Over the last 20 years he has excelled as a municipal golfer, winning the City Men’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship in 1996, 2006 and 2008 and grabbing the match play crown in 2007 and 2009.

These days he plays with a wrap to support a right knee in which he has a torn meniscus and a floating calcium deposit that sometimes lodges in places that cause pain.

“Two weeks before the tournament it was really swollen,” he said. “It comes and goes.”

He says the same thing about his game, which apparently has become erratic. “I never know what’s going to happen,” he said.

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