First Posted: 6/18/2013
On a national stage, the name Watson in the golf world is renowned. Tom Watson, that is.
Watson won 39 times on the PGA Tour, and won the PGA Player of the Year six times.
But here in the Greater Pittston area, that name in the golf world can only mean one very significant player: John Watson.
He wasn’t a professional golfer. He was an editor and a publisher at his family-owned Sunday Dispatch.
But if make your way to Glenmaura National Golf Club in Moosic, or Fox Hill Country Club in Exeter, it would be hard to overlook the golf accomplishments of the recently-passed Pittston native.
Watson was the owner of club championships at Fox Hill and Glenmaura. In Glenmaura’s inaugural member-guest 3-day tournament, Watson took home first with teammate Billy Lawler. He was also a four-time winner of the John A. Allan Invitational, Fox Hill’s premier event. In 1985, Watson won the tournament with Paul Fruehan; he won the tournament with Len Coleman in 1992, 1995 and 1996. Watson also has two holes-in-one at Fox Hill.
Coleman is a member at the country club in Exeter and played with Watson many times. And in just a few days, Coleman will be back on the course to try and obtain another elusive John A. Allan trophy. If there is anyone who knew Watson on the golf course, it was his old partner.
“We both grew up on the course,” Coleman said. “So the John Allan was our tournament.”
For 10 or 15 years, Coleman and Watson were very close, both on and off the links. Coleman remembers Watson as a competitor.
“John was a very fiery guy and was very competitive,” Coleman said. “He was a passionate guy who loved his father and loved life. He wanted to win at all times and that’s what I like about John.”
That duo won the Allan three times. But it was the times they didn’t win that Coleman really remembers Watson.
During one of three runner-up finishes at the Allan, Watson chipped in on the 26th hole of the championship day. Then on the final hole, Watson had a chip to win the tournament. He hit the stick and nearly holed it. Eventually, the duo lost in sudden death.
“He would take the tournaments to heart,” Coleman said. “But after that, he would get over it.”
Coleman would still talk to Watson through social media sites such as Facebook. And one day, Watson told Coleman about Seattle’s Tomato Battle - something similar to Pittston’s Tomato Festival.
“He was always Pittston at heart,” Coleman said. “When they had the Tomato Battle, he said it was like Pittston in Seattle.”
It was Coleman and Watson, along with a few other area coaches, who started the Dispatch Cup which pitted the three local schools, Wyoming Area, Pittston Area and Seton Catholic in an on-course battle.
Coleman, the Wyoming Area golf coach, took the idea to Watson, and Watson ran with it. The Cup lasted for many years,and the Dispatch had much to do with it, Coleman said.
“He had his heart in golf, but he also had his heart in the paper.”
One of the last conversations Coleman had with Watson was certainly a memorable one. Waston told Coleman that both his daughters, Pamela and Juli, were born on the 13th day of the month.
“‘So 2013 will be a winner’ he said,” Coleman explained. “At least he’ll be at peace and reunited with his loved ones in heaven.” Watson died on the 13th day of June.
Watson’s birthday will coincide with this year’s John A. Allan tournament at Fox Hill. That event kicks off Friday. It will be Watson’s 58th birthday.