Hank Frame was a champion in his mother’s eyes before he ever teed it up at the Washington Junior Golf Association state tournament in Spokane this week.
No surprise there.
Apparently, a lot of people agree with Betsy Frame. After Wednesday’s first round, Frame received the Joan Teats Award.
Named after the WJGA founder, the honor goes to one player from each of the six districts who demonstrates character, sportsmanship and inspiration. The players and directors vote. Ability is not a criterion.
“It means he is well liked by his peers,” Betsy Frame said. “That’s more important than anything. Scores come and go … this speaks to your character.”
Speaking of scores, Frame shared the lead with a 69 after the first round at Manito Country Club but lost it on Thursday when he shot a 72 and Reid Martin of Mukilteo blitzed Spokane Country Club with a 65 for a two-shot lead at 4-under par.
Then Frame capped a pretty special week by shooting a steady 67 at SCC to win the state title by five strokes over Jack Whealdon of Ilwacco.
“It’s exciting,” the senior-to-be at University High School said of his first major victory. “I just went out there and tried not to think about anyone else and have fun. That’s the main thing, if you’re not having fun there’s no reason to be out there.”
Whealdon never got into contention. Starting at 1 under, he had an early bogey and didn’t dip back into red figures until the back nine.
Frame used birdies on No. 2 and No. 4 to tie Martin, who dropped a shot back with a bogey on 5. There was separation when Frame had a birdie on No. 10 while Martin had a double bogey, followed by a quadruple bogey on 11.
“I tried not to think about it,” Frame said. “There was like an eight-shot swing on two holes. It was a relief, but I felt bad. But they’re not going to give it to you. You still have to keep the ball in play.”
An interesting aspect to Frame’s victory is that his gallery included his father, Mike, a bogey golfer; his mother, who has a nice swing but doesn’t play; and his sisters Madison, 18, and Ellie, 15, who don’t play competitive golf.
Trying to figure out who gets credit for that sweet swing, heads turned toward a gentleman sitting quietly on a portable stool, keeping track of every shot.
That would be George Silvius, a farmer from Plattsburg, Mo., 40 miles outside Kansas City, who also had a thing for golf.
“I wasn’t anything like him,” he said with a nod to his grandson.
This was the seventh straight WJGA state tournament around which Betsy’s parents had planned their vacation.
Although a bad back recently ended his golfing, it wasn’t long ago Silvius, 73, shot a 1-over 37 while playing with his grandson at Painted Hills.
It was there that Frame finally earned enough to get his own driver since his first three were provided by his grandfather.
That Silvius even became a 10-handicap golfer, to say nothing of a mentor to his grandson, is somewhat amazing.
Silvius’ father died when he was 16 and he started farming. He married his wife of 53 years, Dorothy, when he was 19, all before he took up golf.
Despite raising corn and soy beans, 300 head of cattle and 3,000 open-range hogs, Silvius began golfing at age 25, a 2- and 7-iron his only clubs.
“I love basketball and football. I could have made first string,” Silvius said, once his grandson had opened a sizeable lead. “(Golf) came pretty natural to me. I’m sorry I never had a lesson to learn to play properly.”
Silvius’ golf career was somewhat like his grandson’s. He never won the club championship but was runner-up several times.
Frame was seventh in state last year, third in his age group at 15 and fifth at 11. An All-Greater Spokane League golfer, he has never quite cracked the top 10 in the state tournament.
Then came this week.
“Isn’t he something?” Silvius asked after another birdie dropped.
“He’s something most of the time. He’s pretty darn steady.”
“I’d rather win this than the state tournament,” Frame said. “There are a lot of good players at smaller schools and all the (best) players are (here).”
As for that other award, the one that made his mother so proud, he added, “That was exciting, too. It’s your peers. I guess I’m doing something right with the other guys if they voted for me.”