HISTORY OF THE “MASTERS” IN MY TIME BY Earl Ball! Updated on 2017 04 07.
HISTORY OF THE “MASTERS” IN MY TIME
I’ve been asked many times about the history of the “Masters” and I may be the link between the past and the present. My 1st “Masters” in 2000 was played at the St Pete Club and that was the last “Masters” held at St Pete. What I’m about to say may be correct and may be almost correct. Maybe Mary Eldridge or Glen Peltier will straighten out whatever I get wrong. The “Masters” was a bit of an afterthought and as such was played after the regular season as it is now. Earl, it was Harold and Beulah Dunbar that put up the money for the Masters to be held at St. Pete forever. They left $200.000. This money was used for other things. Mary Eldridge did her best to salvage what she could; Glen Peltier. There are 8 courts in front of the St Pete Grand Stand and that’s what drove the number of 8 men and 8 women. Beulah always kept score on Court 8. Tyler and Jean MacMasters took the masters on the road for five years. Eleanor Brougal, Jane O Laugland and I (Glen Peltier) played in all these five master that Tyler and Jean sponsored by putting up $2500 for each. My research (Earl) shows the Masters being played in St Pete in 1985, Hawthorne in 86, the home of the McMasters, Lakeland in 87, Ft Pierce in 88, Bradenton in 89, Lake Worth in 90 and returning to St Pete in 91.
In 2001 Peg Marker requested the “Masters” be held at Golf Lakes in honor of her husband. That took St Pete off the hook; keep in mind in those days the Club or in this case Peg had to put up $1900 in prize money and to pay the tournament director. With everything that needed to be done the cost could and did reach $2500. In those days the FSA didn’t feel it was right to take the money out of the treasurer for just 16 players and in many cases for the same players year after year. That of course has changed over time as the FSA is the main, if not sole financier of the “masters” today. In 2002 the FSA didn’t have a host for the “Masters” so I requested Betmar host so I could show off Betmar and the Zephyrhills Community in hopes of attracting a future State Tournament. It was so successful that at the conclusion Stan Williamson wrote me a check for $2500 and said “do it again Earl”. We did in 2003. In 2004 there was still no host and Glen Peltier asked if we could do it again. I approached The Zephyrhills Tourist Club and they agreed if I put up the money; I did. In 2005 Glen got Clearwater to host but was back to Zephyrhills in 2006, so I approached Oakside to host in honor of Dale Williams a Hall of Fame player from that Park. I put up $500 of the needed money. In 2007 Lakeland hosted and in 2008 Trailer Estates Hosted but in 2009 the FSA was back asking for help from Zephyrhills. I attended the spring meeting and offered up the Zephyrhills Shuffleboard Club (the former Tourist Club) but only if changers were accepted. Keep in mind this would be the 6th year in 9 years that Zephyrhills would host and the excitement had worn thin; no one wanted to referee or keep score. The changes were no referees or scorekeepers; after all we all played the season without referees or scorekeepers. There would be no prize money and the FSA would setup a rotation schedule for the “Masters” with each District taking their turn. There was a great deal of frustration on everyone’s part because the “Masters” had become a burden.
A rotation schedule was setup and it was made clear that a district could use any club with at least 8 courts. In hind sight a committee of past “Masters” players should have been set up to test the proposed “Masters” site to ensure that the FSA’s best players could display their skills against each other; some sites have been too fast, some too slow to really display the skill expected. Another unexpected result has been that so many top players have turned down the opportunity to play at various venues causing the FSA to have to go down the list as far as the 15th player to fill the field. That makes Chuck Stansburge proposal of only those in the top 8 that agree to play make up the field. Maybe it should be more than the top 8 but going to 15 is probably a bit carried away and it happens in the men’s and women’s divisions.
Many players have talked about some way to play the “Masters” during the regular season with the thinking that there would be more interest and wouldn’t extend the season. Maybe changes are in the future.
Earl Ball 3-31-2017, revised 4-7-2017 by corrections made by Glen Peltier shown in Italics.