Golfers flock to Duncan Park to partake in annual tournament

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Miss-Lou chapter of the National Football Foundation has been hosting the Joe Fortunato-Allen Brown Golf Classic for quite some time, and there’s one thing participants can always count on — familiarity.

Since its beginnings in the early 1980s, Brown has been serving up the tournament’s lunch every year. This year, Brown and the rest of the local NFF chapter kept the tradition rolling Saturday at Duncan Park with a four-man scramble, ball drop and other activities.

“It’s a lot of work but it’s worthwhile, and we enjoy it,” Brown said. “It’s a great camaraderie with all the guys who are here.”

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The annual tournament is the chapter’s only fundraiser, which raises money for the College Hall of Fame Scholarship Fund. The fund awards over $10,000 in financial aid to local scholar athletes each February, and Freddie Sandel, chapter treasurer and tournament chair, said it’s not uncommon to see familiar faces.

“They want to give back to the organization,” he said. “I feel like for those guys, when they were going through school, they knew it cost a lot of money. Any help you get, you really appreciate it, and this is a way to pay that back.”

Brown is a testament to the generosity of the organization himself. After graduating from Natchez High School, Brown played as a tight end and defensive end at Ole Miss from 1961-65. He then won two Super Bowl rings with the Green Bay Packers, and subsequently knew he wanted to return to his hometown.

“We are getting older, and we have to get some substitutes in, but it means a lot,” Brown said. “At least we aren’t going downhill. A lot of organizations have shut the door and headed out the other way. We have kept it going and we will continue to keep it going somehow.”

Brown said of all the things that keep him cooking over the years, he has enjoyed watching each generation grow and continue to play in the tournament.

“I remember a lot of guys from this neighborhood from when they were little, and now they come every year,” he said. “It makes you proud that you can do this. It’s a good thing for these kids. Some kids don’t have a way to go to college. At least if they get this scholarship, they can go somewhere close to home.”