This was new territory for general chairman King Thornton as he awarded the Press Thornton Future Masters championship trophy to Carter Loflin of Duluth, Ga., on Saturday after another exciting finish to the prestigious junior golf tournament.
It was also the climax of an emotional week for the Thornton family.
“Everybody misses Daddy and asks about Daddy, but we’re all working together,” Lyn Thornton said. “He would be so happy that we’re here doing it.”
This marked the first time in 65 years the tournament was held without Dr. Press Thornton Jr., who died in early January at the age of 91. The man known to many as “Doc” was the longtime president and general manager of the event started by his father, Press Thornton, 71 years ago.
Doc’s wife, Evelyn, was among members of the Thornton family who joined volunteers and representatives of the Dothan Country Club during the ceremony to close the tournament.
Despite the additional obstacle of COVID-19 this year, the weeklong tournament went off without a hitch.
“Everyone has been wonderful,” Evelyn said.
King Thornton, one of Dr. Thornton’s sons, whom the family nominated to take over the role of general chairman of the tournament, was proud of how things came together. He also got to watch his son, Luke, play in the 13-14 age division of the tournament early in the week.
“We didn’t know how it was going to pan out with all of the social distancing,” he said. “Handling the scorecards different, leaving the flags in the pins, no rakes — those kinds of things. It’s a new different way of doing everything.
“Of course, Kevin (Klein, tournament director) and Angelia (Turner, tournament coordinator), they’re old hats at this, and they know what they’re doing. Everything has worked out well.”
It still made for some restless nights for the new head of the tournament.
“I woke up in the middle of the night and started thinking about stuff,” he said. “But really from running the tournament, for me, I feel like I’m more the liaison or the greeter or the hospitality part of it.
“I’ve certainly enjoyed it. I’ve met a lot of people that are on their last year here and they’re out there talking about how great everything is.
“The golf course is unbelievable, and the weather has been, you know, pretty good. All in all, I would say thumbs up,” he added, paying tribute to his father’s trademark signal.