Golf was a passion for Grant Gardner.
When he was a senior at Montgomery County High School in 1998, Gardner was a member of a golf team that won its first Eastern Missouri Conference title and qualified for the state tournament for the first time in program history. He continued to play golf for leisure.
“He loved golf,” said Shelby Coppola, Gardner’s girlfriend.
On July 24, the Gardner family hosted the First Annual Grant Gardner Memorial Golf Tournament at the Montgomery County Golf Course. Proceeds of the event went towards the Grant Gardner Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is given to high school students from Montgomery County and Wellsville-Middletown.
“A bunch of Grant’s friends who played golf came up with the idea to have a golf tournament,” said Alexis Gieseker, Gardner’s sister. “We’ve been organizing it for about a month. We thought it would be a good idea to remember him and to get everyone back together once a year to raise money for the scholarship.”
Gardner passed away in 2019. He worked as an assistant prop master in the entertainment industry for many years.
A total of seven teams competed in the golf tournament, which had a four-man scramble format. Most of the participants got to play the tournament at night.
Coppola, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., said she was thrilled that she got the opportunity to play in an event that was named in honor of her boyfriend.
“I used to play golf as a kid,” Coppola said. “I actually was playing with Grant’s clubs, which was funny. They’re way shorter than he ever was, so they fit me perfectly and they were definitely small on him. It’s been nice to be able to have his clubs out here with all of his friends and be able to play some decently bad golf with them. But I hit some good shots.”
Montgomery Sales, Second Place Grill, Scott Agency, Cobb Sandblasting, Dry Dock Bar and Grill, Papa B’s Wing Shack, Sel Con and Ole Town Tavern were among the local businesses that sponsored holes in the tournament.
“We’re really proud of the community coming together,” Gieseker said. “We had 18 different local businesses throughout the county sponsoring holes for us for this event.”
The event also had a raffle that included tickets to St. Louis Cardinals baseball and Blues hockey games and coolers.
O’Fallon resident Pete Hodges, a 2000 MCHS graduate who played with Gardner on the school’s golf team, hit a long chip at the No. 2 hole in the tournament.
“I have nothing but good memories of Grant,” Hodges said. “There were a lot of good trips and good times with Grant over the years. I really miss him. I’m glad that we can all hang out and celebrate his life.”
The tournament gave Montgomery City residents Lana Bailey and Chrystal Jones – who were Gardner’s friends – a chance to play golf for the first time.
“We didn’t care how bad we were because Grant would be cracking up,” Bailey said. “He would have loved it.”