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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Struck Strikes Out : A corrective voice from the past

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I received a call from an irate Chronicle Times reader in Boise, Idaho the other day, taking me to task for screwing up some history of Cherokee's annual Sioux Valley Amateur Match-Play Golf Tournament, Iowa's oldest match-play tournament.

As it turned out, he wasn't actually irate, but this fine gentleman, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, merely wanted me to set the record straight about Cherokee natives winning the coveted Sioux Valley Am.

As was reported in the Chronicle Times' wonderful, comprehensive, incomparable, stunning, thorough, flat-out beautiful, three-page, replete with color photo page, coverage of the 2008 Sioux Valley Amateur Match-Play Golf Tournament that one local curmudgeon inexplicably had the stones to dis, the last Cherokee native to win the Sioux Valley Championship before Jeff Campbell did it this year was Mark Northcraft in 1977.


It was Jack "Jocko" Bunker in 1979!

Jocko, a 1951 graduate of Cherokee Wilson High School and a long-time resident of Boise, was a marvelous athlete among many marvelous athletes at Cherokee WHS at the time. The Braves football and basketball teams were legendary and the golf teams were as well.

Jocko won the 1979 Sioux Valley at the age of 46 when he beat16-year-old John Dodd of Marshalltown 2-1 in the title match.

Jocko last played in the tourney in 1980 and then work and living his life got in the way of his returning. He had played in the tourney until 1963 and took a hiatus until returning in 1979. He was third in the Championship Flight in 1963.

"Hopefully, I will be there next year," said Bunker of the 30th anniversary of his Sioux Valley win here. Next year is also the 75th annual Sioux Valley.

Jocko qualified for the 1979 Championship Flight with an even-par 72. He then beat a young Vern VanPeursum of Ames (now Sioux City) 3-2, the late Jeff Greenwood of Waterloo 4-3, and Mike Stevens of Sioux City 1-up to reach the Championship finals.

Notably, Greenwood, a Cherokee native, took out three-time Sioux Valley champ Mike Jividen of South Sioux City in the first round for the right to meet Bunker. And, as long as we're reliving history here, a young Nathan Dude Phipps was the 1979 medalist after carding a 71.

Bunker moved from Cherokee in 1958 to Orange County, Calif. He then moved to Boise in 1970.

Jocko has been a scratch golfer his whole life and now, as he ages, said he can't hit the ball as far, but still has a decent short game.

"I still play when I can, and I usually shoot 81 or 82," said the 75-year-old Cherokee Brave. "I'm really planning on coming back next year to play in the Sioux Valley. I've always loved that course (Cherokee Golf & Country Club) and that tournament. And seeing old friends always makes it that much more special."

We'll leave the light on for you, Jocko.

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