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'Scalded Cat' pits Linton against Lyons golfers for the past 25 years

Posted Friday, October 23, 2009, at 6:19 AM

This traveling trophy had been the object of the traditional golf match up between Linton and Lyons. (Submitted photo)
For 25 years, some of the golfers around Linton and Lyons have been staging a "friendly" rivalry that is all about bragging rights on the links.

The silver anniversary, 18-hole scramble team match up for the coveted "Scalded Cat Trophy" unfolded Oct. 4 at Phil Harris Golf Course in Linton.

When the last putt was holed, the Lyons team had put an old-fashion whipping on the Linton contingent -- by a 17-stroke margin -- the largest in the event's quarter century history.

But wins by Lyons have been rare over the years with Linton holding a commanding 16 to 8 victory margin. The two squads played to a tie in 1992.

The next year (1993) a sudden death playoff was needed before Linton logged a hard-fought victory.

The yearly tourney features 20 golfers from Linton and 20 golfers from Lyons battling it out in a four-man team scramble format. The lowest combined net scores from both teams wins.

The idea for the golf match-up between the neighboring Greene County communities was the brainchild in 1985 of the late Dan Phillips, who served as Linton-Stockton High athletic director and Tom Oliphant, the former L&M basketball coach/athletic director and later White River Valley teacher.

"We'd jaw back and forth and we thought we might just have a golf match," Oliphant recalls. "It's just been good sportsmanship and camaraderie with the Linton and Lyons guys."

Phillips came up the name "Scalded Cat"

There is a traveling trophy that currently is being proudly engraved with the Lyons name for the third straight year.

Lyons team captain Jack Johnson, who's technology director at Linton-Stockton Junior-Senior High School, has played in all 25 of the events.

He's not real sure where Phillips came up with the trophy name, and said, "I don't really know, but I think it came from when you get beat you run away like a scalded cat. We always had that idea."

The autumn golf series has been special in Johnson's view.

"It's just been the rivalry thing of it. It's not the money, but the prestige. It's been fun."

Modestly, Johnson said the Lyons bunch is on a "baby" winning streak and each team member walked away with 17 bucks.

Each of the players wager a dollar per stroke difference in the match, but all agree it's not about the money.

"Money is not the object. It's just for fun and there have been a lot of different guys played and everything," Oliphant stressed.

Linton team captain Jeff Sparks agreed, "If you came away with $5, it was a good year."

Johnson added, "It's usually not much money, $2, $3 or $4 dollars, it's just fun."

"That's by far our record," Johnson says of the big margin this year. "It's usually a really, really close match. It's always been pretty competitive."

He added, "We've got the bragging rights, but we're not boastful if you know what we mean."

Oliphant agreed.

"We (Lyons) are on a streak. We've won three in a row. But Linton still prevails because they have 16 and we only have eight, but we are slowly catching up. I don't know if any of us (from Lyons) will last long enough to get even with them. We won't play golf that long," he said with a laugh. "It's been a good relationship between Linton and Lyons golfers for the last 25 years."

Johnson said a special toast always precedes the match.

"It's just a great rivalry and we have a lot of fun. We have a toast before each match. We toast to the Cat and we also toast to the departed members now. We always talk about those guys and it's just great fun. It's not a bitter rivalry by any means. It's a friendly rivalry that got started back there I guess over boasting who was going to beat who and they said we'll just prove it."

Oliphant credited three deceased golfers and friends -- Dan Phillips (Linton), Larry Hasler (Lyons) and Jerry Rice (Linton) -- as being instrumental in keeping this unique series going through the years.

They are the guys who would work to put together the teams and helped carried on the tradition.

Rice, the former owner of Rice's Building Supply in Linton, died April 23, 2002. He was 64.

Phillips, who served as an assistant principal and athletic director at Linton-Stockton High School from 1974-1981 and later was junior high principal from 1980-1998, passed away July 10, 2002. He was 63.

Hasler, a former teacher, coach and Greene County Commissioner, died March 22, 2008. He was 68.

Hasler was also the historian for the tourney and posted the year-by-year results on a Web site that he maintained.

Johnson said it's not always easy coming up with the 20 players for either of the rosters.

"Some times we scratch for players. ... Not having the population (in Lyons) makes it harder and harder to get golfers. The guys from Linton used to kid around and say if you've even driven through Lyons once you are eligible to play," he said with a laugh.

Sparks, who is the principal at Linton-Stockton Junior High, said there is a lot of truth in that statement and added, "If you can find Lyons on the map some times you can play."

Interestingly, Keith (Old Simmons) Sims is the only player who has played on a winning Linton and a winning Lyons team.

Sparks, who also has played in all 25 of the tournaments, said it's been a lot of fun for a long time.

"I think what we enjoy about it is a lot of us kind of came in here together around Linton and Lyons. We get together once a year. There is a lot of friendship and camaraderie that goes with it," Sparks said. "It's all about the bragging rights."

The Linton captain said the tradition will continue.

"We have no plans to stop it as long as we can all walk out there to the golf course," Sparks said. "It's just one of those great things about small town rivalries and we are able to do this and have a lot of fun doing it."

Past Champions of

"The Scalded Cat"

2009 -- Lyons

2008 -- Lyons

2007 -- Lyons

2006 -- Linton

2005 -- Linton

2004 -- Linton

2003 -- Lyons

2002 -- Linton

2001 -- Linton

2000 -- Linton

1999 -- Linton

1998 -- Linton

1997 -- Linton

1996 -- Lyons

1995 -- Lyons

1994 -- Linton

1993 -- Linton (Sudden Death Playoff)

1992 -- Tie

1991 -- Lyons

1990 -- Linton

1989 -- Linton

1988 -- Linton

1987 -- Linton

1986 -- Lyons

1985 -- Linton

25-year total: Linton 16 wins, Lyons 8 wins, 1 tie

Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at schneider.nick@gmail.com or nschneider@gcdailyworld.com. Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wordmaster1953.

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Nice story, Nick.


-- Posted by GarthHudson on Thu, Oct 29, 2009, at 11:40 AM

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