One of the oldest, and most prestigious, golf tournaments in East Texas is played every year, right here at Meadowbrook Golf and Event Center, and it’s happening again this weekend.
The Energy Weldfab Meadowbrook Classic, in the tournament’s 84th playing, will begin here Friday, and feature some of the area’s best golfers for three rounds of a golfing test that often comes down to the final moments on Sunday.
Defending champion Blake Elliott, from Bullard, won’t be back to defend his title, but there are plenty of golfers on the championship flight capable of taking home that big crystal trophy. Elliott finished with an 11-under-par 205 to win it last year.
The course is challenging enough, but that East Texas July heat make the Classic a test not only of golfing acumen but of pressure in the heat year after year, dating back to the first Classic in 1937.
There have been a few times over the years that the Classic had to be shortened, or at the very least adjusted, due to rain or storms. That hasn’t happened since 2010, although there is a 40 percent chance of rain at this writing on Tuesday.
The Classic began just five years after the course was founded, and was played for several years as the Laird Invitational. Since that first year in 1937, only one time — during a clubhouse renovation in the 1950’s — was the tournament not played. It was the first tournament played at the course that allowed players from outside of Kilgore to enter. It has been sponsored by Energy Weldfab for the last several years.
The list of former champions reads like a who’s-who list of golfers in Texas. Billy Russell was the Classic’s first champion from Kilgore (1940), and then tournament would become a who’s who of Texas professional golf, with names like Raleigh Selby, Jacky Cupit, Bobby Cupit, Roy Pace, and of course, four-time champion Rick Maxey. Selby was also a four-time champ. Current and longtime Meadowbrook pro David Cline, a former Texas A&M standout, has a tournament victory of his own, having beaten Eddie Welch back in 1991.
In 2018, the Classic’s top spot went to Kilgore’s own Alan Clark, who became the first member of Meadowbrook to win the tournament since 1994 (Randy King), and maybe more importantly to Clark and to his family, Clark will join the tournament’s impressive list of champions – one that includes his grandfather, “The Gray Eagle, Earl Clark.
Tee times begin Friday morning early, with the first group going off at 7:38 a.m. Championship flight players’ tee times begin at 12:22. For complete tee times, see the Classic’s Facebook page, Energy Weldfab Meadowbrook Classic.
On Sunday, the tournament’s final round will conclude sometime around dusk, between 5 and 7 p.m. normally, with a large gallery in carts following the leaders and hanging out for the trophy presentation. See scores, photos and all sorts of coverage afterward here in the print edition of the News Herald, and online at kilgorenewsherald.com.