The 31st Terry Gilliam Scholarship Golf Tournament is planned for Saturday, July 13, at Oakridge Golf Course.
Teams on Saturday will tee off at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The annual event is hosted by the Gilliam Foundation, and was started in memory of Huntsville High School graduate Terry Gilliam. A 1965 HHS graduate, Gilliam served his country and was wounded twice in Vietnam, the second time fatally.
Gilliam was an outstanding student/athlete at Huntsville High School, where a memorial display of him greets students and visitors. He was valedictorian of his class and played football, basketball, baseball and track.
The scholarship tournament is by invitation only. Some golfers have played in all of the previous 30 tournaments. Organizers are hoping to have 120 golfers for Saturday’s event. Entry fee is $80 per man or $160 per team.
Proceeds from the tournament will go toward a grant program overseen by the Gilliam Foundation, which distributes funds to Huntsville schools. This year’s money will go toward athletics, after academics were helped last year.
The grant program has distributed between $125,000 and $150,000 to the schools.
An annual $1,000 scholarship also is given in Gilliam’s memory. Senior Beau Whelchel received the 2019 scholarship.
Brothers Barry and Tom Tice were childhood friends of Gilliam. They head the Gilliam Foundation. Gilliam graduated from HHS in 1965, Barry Tice in 1966 and Tom Tice in 1969.
“We hope to fill that thing [tournament] up. It’s an exciting time. It’s kind of a homecoming event,” Tom Tice said. “We’ll have guys that have been with us for 31 years. It’s good to see everybody and get them back in town and have good fellowship and good fun out there at the golf course.”
Both said the tournament needs to draw in younger players since many older golfers may not be able to play much longer.
“We need to open that thing up and get the younger ones coming in because the older ones are like me – they’re not hitting it as good as they used to and we need to bring on a little different crowd if we can,” Tom said.
While in high school, Gilliam spoke of possibly attending medical school, the Tice brothers said.
“He was an outstanding student and he was going down that route,” Tom said. “Then he said at one time he might want to teach. Those were his biggest plans.”
Tom Tice, former athletic director at Huntsville, said his friend also would have played college sports.
“Yes, he would have played, probably somewhere at that time in the AIC, [Arkansas] Tech or [University of Central Arkansas in] Conway or Henderson [State], somewhere like that. But he would have had a hard time deciding what he wanted to play because he was good in all sports,” he said.
Tice said Gilliam “really could hit a baseball.”
“Of course, he was an outstanding football/basketball player, and just an all-around great athlete. He’d had a hard time choosing,” he said.
Barry and Tom Tice also said the golf tournament and the presentation of a scholarship each spring keeps Gilliam’s name and memory alive. Local businessman Barry Cleaver presented this year’s scholarship to Whelchel.
Barry Tice said this year’s tournament could be down in numbers due to attrition. Still, he’d love to see 120 players again.
“I think it’ll be down some. I don’t have a good idea what there’s going to be. I’d like to see that many but that’s hard to do,” he said of reaching 120. “I think play is down everywhere. Kind of attrition. It’s invitation only. People are getting older and doing other things. I blame it on attrition.”
Barry Tice said Gilliam left Huntsville in May, a year after graduating high school. After basic training, Gilliam returned to Madison County to say goodbye to his friends and family, before leaving for Southeast Asia.
“I believe he left here in May,” Tom said. “He went through his basic and came to see me and he was on his way. He got wounded once before, then the other deal happened. In Vietnam, you had to be wounded twice before you could come home. That’s the way it was.”
Oakridge Golf Course was put up for sale in March. As of a couple of weeks ago the owners had not received a firm offer from a potential buyer. Barry Tice said having the scholarship tournament elsewhere would be a challenge.
“I’d hate to take it anywhere else,” he said. “This is home. We’d lose a lot of players. It would just be a whole different deal.”
Barry Tice also has an idea of who should purchase the nine-hole golf course.
“I’d love to see the golf course stay open. The people that need to buy it, and I keep telling people this, is the city.
“But they’re the only ones – the county can’t do it, they don’t have the money to do it. But the city, look at all these grant programs they get. Can they not do something like that?”
Proceeds from all of the Gilliam tournaments stay local, Barry Tice said.
“We put every dime we make back into the kids and back into the community.”
Huntsville Mayor Darrell Trahan was out of town on vacation and did not return a text or voice message seeking a comment.