This Monday’s third annual Charles Hartline Memorial Golf Classic and silent auction at Aiken’s Houndslake Country Club is a way for many people to remember the late Aiken golfer.
“It’s a great opportunity for the people at Houndslake and the people who knew Charles to get together,” said Butch Collie of Hartline, who was a popular top local and regional player before his death in early 2009.
The people who organize the captain’s choice event, from Hartline’s family to close friends like Collie, don’t need a reminder of what kind of person Hartline was before health issues took his life at age 62.
“I miss him every day,” said Hartline’s wife, Janis.
“He was a fantastic guy and a great friend of mine,” Collie said. “He was great to be around.”
Collie was a member of Hartline’s regular group at Houndslake from the mid-1980s until Hartline became seriously ill in 2008. He learned early what a determined person Hartline was – especially on the golf course.
“He was tenacious; he was one guy who never gave up,” Collie said.
Hartline won the Houndslake senior club championship so many times that it is now named after him. Collie beat Hartline for that title one time, but even in defeat, Hartline showed what he was made of.
“In the final round, he had an 8 on the 15th hole, then birdied No. 16, 17 and 18,” Collie recalled. “That’s just the type of guy he was. If I had an 8, I’d probably been done for the day. But he never gave up.”
The determination Hartline showed on the golf course carried over into life, where Hartline battled myriad health problems for years, from Hodgkin’s disease in 1969, to triple bypass surgery in 2001 to heart valve replacement surgery in 2008. He died from complications as a result of his heart surgery.
“He was a fighter,” said Janis Hartline, who runs the tournament with their daughters Shelly and Julie and son-in-law Tom Farmer, who is Shelly’s husband.
Janis Hartline said she’s “not sure” the tournament would be something her husband would want because he didn’t like to be in the limelight.
“I think she’s probably right,” Collie said. “I don’t think Charles would have wanted this, but we wanted it and we wanted it for Janis. She’s one of the sweetest people you’d ever meet.”
“It’s a tribute to Charles,” Janis Hartline said. “It’s a lot of work and very stressful to put it on, but the day of the tournament, I’m so glad we do it.”
The tournament almost didn’t happen. Soon after Charles Hartline died in 2009, his wife was approached by Clemson University, where Hartline played golf, serving as captain on the 1967 team.
They wanted her to have a tournament in Charles’ honor, with the proceeds going to the school’s “Will to Lead” campaign.
It was too soon for Janis, especially after the year-long struggle that Hartline had in ICU.
“I said, ‘you people are crazy – no,’ ” Janis Hartline said.
Two years later, Clemson approached her again, and this time she was ready.
Most of the money goes to the “Will to Lead” campaign, but a $2,500 scholarship goes to a student at Aiken or South Aiken high who plans to attend Clemson or South Carolina. The 2011 recipient was Aiken High graduate Johnie Williams, who is a freshman at South Carolina this fall.
“That doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but it’s a lot of money to some people,” Janis Hartline said. “He and his family were so excited, you would have thought it was a $10,000 scholarship.”
Even when the five-year contract with Clemson expires after the 2014 tournament, Janis Hartline might keep the event going because then all the proceeds can go into the scholarship fund.
“That in itself might be enough to satisfy me, if my daughters and son-in-law are willing to keep doing it,” she said.
The money from this tournament that has gone to Clemson helped fund the men’s golf teams’ Larry Penley Jr. Golf Facility, which is located behind the team’s driving range at the Bobby Robinson Golf Practice Facility.
In memory of Hartline, Clemson and the Hartline family came up with the kind of tribute that Hartline would have appreciated.
Between the facility and the practice putting green is a two-sided clock with a plaque at its foot honoring Charles Hartline.
“It’s nice and not real ostentatious,” Janis Hartline said.
Anyone interested in playing in the tournament or contributing to it should call Houndslake Country Club at (803) 648-3333 or Janis Hartline at (803) 648-9096. The entry fee is $100 or $400 per four-player team.
MAKE IT AN EVEN 20: Jan Cross recently rallied from four shots back entering the final round to win the West Lake Women’s club championship for the 20th time.