The man responsible for founding and directing the Jack Morris Memorial Benefit Golf Tournament is stepping down.
After seven years of overseeing the benefit, local realtor Gary Cordell announced last week he was turning over tournament responsibilities to the Morris family.
In addition to family members helping with the tournament, Jake Swartwood is drawing raves from Jack’s mother, Terry Morris, for his help.
“He’s going out there and getting auction and raffle items — doing all those things that make the tournament so good,” she said. “Jack loved Jake, so I’m glad he’s helping.”
Under Cordell’s stewardship, the tournament grew in stature to become one of the Rim Country’s most popular benefits, annually earning thousands of dollars for the Payson High School football program and a memorial scholarship given each spring to a graduating PHS senior.
Former PHS football coach Josh Anderson remembers the tournament earning a whopping $10,500 in 2007, his first year at the helm of the program.
Over the years the tournament has become more than just a round of golf and a fund-raiser — it’s also a chance for Jack’s family and friends to remember and honor him.
Each of the seven years the tournament has been held, many of Jack’s former Payson High teammates have turned out to play in his memory.
Often, they pause in the middle of the game to walk over to Pioneer Cemetery, where Jack is buried, to say a few words to their old friend and possibly lay a memento on his plot.
Jack died Feb. 23, 2004 in a Phoenix hospital of complications from a stroke. He was 34 at the time of his death.
Jack’s coaching career began in 1995 as an assistant at Rim Country Middle School and peaked in 1998 as the line coach on the undefeated, state championship PHS team.
Jack played football for three seasons while he was in high school.
Jack’s two brothers, Cable Morris and Josh Barhardt, were starters on the team.
After Jack’s one year at RCMS he was obviously hooked on coaching and moved to the high school where he coached undefeated freshman and junior varsity squads.
At the time of his death, Jack was serving as an assistant to then PHS head coach Jerry Rhoades.
In 1986, he was a senior member of the Longhorn team that advanced to the state championship where it lost a 7-0 heartbreaker to Snowflake. On the team, he was a member of the offensive and defensive lines, along with his closest friend, Mark Velasco, who nicknamed themselves “The Bruise Brothers.”
His jersey number 70 was retired in 2004 during homecoming halftime ceremonies on Longhorn field and now hangs in Wilson Dome.
In September 2007, his daughter Courtney Morris was elected PHS homecoming queen and wore her father’s original jersey in the parade on Main Street, bringing tears from many of Jack’s former teammates, coaches, friends and family.
The proceeds from the upcoming memorial tournament will fund a $1,500 scholarship given out in Jack’s name. The remaining proceeds benefit the PHS football program. Past scholarship winners include Donnie Wilbanks, Jadyn Walden, Carlos Lopez, Courtney Morris and Jeff Day.
This year, the scramble tournament, which is open to all amateur golfers, tees off at 7:30 a.m., Saturday, June 18 with a shotgun start at Payson Golf Course.
The entry fee is $85 per player, which includes green fees, cart, food and prize money.
Prizes will include closest-to-the-pin awards on two par-3 holes, longest drive in the fairways and a hole-in-one prize on a pre-selected hole. The tourney committee is accepting raffle prizes and hole sponsors. All donations are tax-deductible and a tax ID number is available.
Entry forms are available at the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway, or Payson Golf Course. The deadline is June 13 or after 110 golfers register. For more information about the tournament, call Dawn Sweeney at (928) 978-4357.