THOMPSON TEES OFF: High school golf and remembering Tom Bell and - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

THOMPSON TEES OFF: High school golf and remembering Tom Bell and Bradley Johnson

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Mary & Tom Bell Mary & Tom Bell

State High School golf is in full swing

High school golf is in full swing, with all statewide teams pointing towards their respective regionals and the State High School Championships which are April 29-30 for Independent Schools (AISA) at Selma CC and May 13-15 for 1A-6A (ASHAA) at the RTJ Trail at The Shoals in Muscle Shoals.

Two highly significant high school tournaments will be staged within the next two weeks. They are the seventh annual Bradley Johnson Memorial hosted by Spain Park at Greystone's Legacy Course April 10-11 and the third annual Tom Bell Memorial hosted by Oneonta High School at Limestone Springs April 15-16.


Tom Bell Memorial

Tom Bell was a resident and member at Limestone Springs who loved the game of golf. After he unexpectedly passed away in 2010, it was decided by a group of members at Limestone Springs and many other interested people to form a high school golf tournament in his memory.

The tournament has grown from seven to 19 teams in three short years, with the following high schools from across the state that will be represented this year: Spain Park, Vestavia, Athens, Bob Jones, Decatur, Mountain Brook, Ft. Payne, Grissom, Guntersville, Lauderdale County, Montgomery Academy, St Luke's, Scottsboro, Walker, Pinson Valley, Hewitt Trussville, Oak Mountain, Pelham and Oneonta.

The high school tournament bearing his name also helps raise money for a needs based scholarship for a golfer from the Blount County area. Paul Harris was the beneficiary of this scholarship over the past two years.

"I am honored to be the first recipient of the Tom Bell Memorial Scholarship as it has made my endeavors at the University of Kansas possible.  I am very thankful to the Foundation to even consider me for this award.  Being able to say that I played with Mr. Bell in his last round of golf before he got sick means a lot to me. Mr. Bell was an important figure to me and to Limestone Springs and is greatly missed.  The scholarship award in honor of Mr. Bell is a prestigious

award I will always be thankful for," Paul Harris said.

Before playing for Kansas, Harris attended Central Alabama Community College.

Bell, who had retired from BellSouth, sold real estate in Oneonta and worked for Hometown Bank. 

"He was always happiest on the golf course, particularly when playing with the young golfers," his wife Mary recalled.


Bradley Johnson Memorial Tournament

It seems hard to believe, but it is seven years since Bradley Johnson passed away.

A 17-year-old junior at Spain Park, his young life was cut short by a tragic car crash. A very talented golfer, and an even better person, the sky was the limit for young Bradley.

He would have attended Auburn to play golf, where his younger brother Michael is now a star on their golf team. Bradley lost in the final of the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur...he was that good, but was always very humble.

The seventh annual Bradley Johnson Memorial high school tournament will feature the following teams: Spain Park, Hoover, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Homewood, Briarwood Christian, UMS Wright, Oneonta, Auburn, St. Paul's, St. Luke's, McGill-Toolen, Guntersville, Ft. Payne and Northridge.

Next Wednesday evening following the first round, Todd Thompson, University of Georgia graduate and former All-American, will be the guest speaker.  Thompson serves on the Bradley Johnson Memorial Foundation Board and runs the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour (SJGT).

Hank Johnson, Director of Instruction at Greystone, who worked with Bradley, will also share words of encouragement.

Out of the tragedy of Bradley's passing, came the Bradley Johnson Memorial Foundation which raises funds for junior golfers to play in tournaments and help defray some college golf expenses.

Both events are open to the public to attend, free of charge.

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