For those who knew Jack Morris, a memorial golf tournament held each spring in his memory is a way to pay tribute and also earn funds for the Payson High School football program he cherished most of his life.
During the tournaments, it’s not unusual for some of Jack’s former Longhorn teammates and coaches to take time away from play to take the short walk over to Pioneer Cemetery to lay a memento on his gravesite.
Such a show of respect will undoubtedly occur again at the 9th Annual Jack Morris Memorial Golf Tournament when it tees off at 7:30 a.m., Saturday, June 9 with a shotgun start.
A good turnout would bode well for the football team, which depends on the proceeds from the tournament to purchase much-needed items that cannot be paid for with the cash-strapped athletic budget.
Just two years ago, Gary Cordell, who served as event director for seven years, stepped down, turning over tournament responsibilities to the Morris family.
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.
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.
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.
Morris’ two brothers, Cable Morris and Josh Barnhardt, were starters on the championship 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. His jersey number 70 was retired in 2004 during homecoming 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.
The sight of her wearing the jersey, invoked more than a few tears from many of Jack’s former teammates, coaches, friends and family.
Among those who have been Jack Morris scholarship winners after graduating from PHS include Donnie Wilbanks, Jadyn Walden, Carlos Lopez, Courtney Morris and Jeff Day.
Entry forms to the golf tournament are available at the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway, or Payson Golf Course. The deadline is after 110 golfers register. For more information about the tournament, call Jack’s mother, Terry Morris at (928) 474-6353 or Dawn Sweeney at (928) 978-4357.