June 15th, 2012
Hyland's Heroes: Dave Baron
Baron looks to grow the game with CSAA Golf Tournament
The following feature is a part of a weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland, called "Hyland's Heroes" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports. Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to email@example.com.
For young, aspiring golfers or even those just interested in learning about the game and growing with the game, the Louisville Catholic Sports Athletic Association offers an annual event aimed at covering all types of golf talent.
And for more than 25 years Dave Baron has been the Golf Director for the CSAA and tournament director for the CSAA Golf Tournament. The tournament is held for students from all of the CSAA schools and is designed for kids of all levels of development the opportunity to compete. From the first-timers to the students who plan on playing the sport in high school, Baron makes sure that the tournament is all about fun and that every kid has a good time playing.
“The tournament has really, really grown in its size and scope,” said Baron. “Originally, we might have had just two hours of tee times and now we have two days of tee times.”
Baron and his staff break down the tournament to be played over the course of two days. The first day is for 7th/8th grade 18 holes of competitive play. The second day is devoted to the 5th/6th grade teams as well as those in 5th grade and under.
“We allow kids all the way down to the first grade to play in the tournament,” Baron mentioned. “We leave it up to the parish schools to decide how they want their kids to participate.”
The annual tournament allows junior golfers to find their own place in the game—from the most competitive golfers to the most recreational—the goal is to grow the love of the game.
“The purpose of this tournament—and we call it a ‘fun golf tournament’—is to get all of the young golf players in the CSAA, who may just play three or four or five times a year, to play for their parish and have a good time,” Baron said. “We have ‘relaxed rules’ for the kids because the emphasis is on having fun.”
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a competitive aspect to the tournament. The 7th/8th grade tournament is an 18-hole grind for some, but playing for parish pride can have its own rewards.
“We have some very good golfers, but we emphasize the fun part of it,” he said. “We don’t have leagues and this annual tournament serves a purpose for all who are interested.”
The CSAA golf tournament has a storied history and Baron’s association with it spans three parts of four decades. He got involved with it when his sons Daniel and Steve were old enough to play for Ascension elementary school.
“Both of my sons played golf and played in the tournament,” he recalled. “And Jim Frame (former CSAA Director) asked me if I was interested in being the golf director and I told him that I was. I enjoyed the tournaments and ever since then, I’m still doing it.”
Baron is a St. Xavier alum (class of 1960) and his love of golf extends to his youth. He was runner-up in the state golf tournament his senior year for the Tigers, losing the title in a playoff at the Lindsay Golf Course at Fort Knox. He then matriculated at Bellarmine and participated on the Knights’ golf team for four years. He now enjoys 9-holes a week at Seneca Park golf course.
“We rotate the tournament between Iroquois and Seneca golf courses,” he said. “We like to keep it centrally located for all of the schools.”
His approach to this tournament is based on participation and involvement. Results are limited to 10 shots per hole, but when kids see their name on the scoreboard with their score next to it, it is a memory they’ll always take with them.
“I think junior golf is critical for the future of regular golf,” he said. “It is so much fun to watch these kids come out and play. The kid who shoots 100, 125, or even 150, they enjoy seeing their name posted next to their school and they had a good time. We have them play with kids from other schools which helps create a fun atmosphere. It’s kind of a long day for the kids, but the parents support it and it’s a positive experience for all involved.
“We give four individual trophies and those kids are proud of their accomplishments, especially for representing their schools,” he added.
He recalls a favorite moment from a few years ago when a boy undergoing chemotherapy wanted to participate. The boy’s grandparents asked if it was ok for him to ride a cart.
“We had a young man going through chemotherapy and his grandparents wanted to know if he could ride a golf cart and still play,” he recalled. “Our normal rules state that you have to walk, carry your own bag or pull cart. At that time, the American’s With Disabilities Act granted Casey Martin (pro golfer stricken with KTW syndrome and requires a cart to participate in golf tournaments) a pass to ride a golf cart. And we told the grandparents that he most certainly can ride a cart.
“At the first tee, you could tell he was kind of weak,” he continued. “But his grandparents came up and said, ‘You don’t know how happy this is going to make him to play nine holes to represent his parish school.’ That’s what this tournament is all about: giving the kids an opportunity to play, and to compete for their school.”
Baron insists that he will stay involved with the tournament until for as long as he can.
“I told Rick (CSAA Director Rick Arnold) that I will help with the tournament until I can longer help him with the tournament,” he laughed. “And that’s the best answer I could give him.”
And it’s the best answer for the several hundred young golfers in the CSAA that participate in this event.