It’s the golf event of the year, though there’s not a “pro” in sight. Nor is there a green sportscoat to place upon the champion’s shoulders, but there is a jean jacket… and somehow that means so much more.
Friends have been gathering once a year to golf and reminisce about one of their own — their friend, Christopher Rieb, who passed away suddenly in 2015, but who can still make them smile.
Rieb liked to have fun and he created it for all who were with him, said Justin Heller of Watertown.
“I grew up with him,” Heller continued. “We went all the way back to kindergarten. I played hockey with him the whole time, then lived with him in college for two years. Every time we were doing something, he was the life of the party. It didn’t matter if we were hanging out at the house or playing hockey.”
Rieb enjoyed hockey and baseball in his early years making many friends along the way. Nate Mack’s friendship with Rieb began in middle school when they started playing baseball together.
Regardless of the game, they all got the same Chris… a fun-loving, easy to talk to… likeable guy that got along with everybody.
“Many of us went to different colleges and ended up in different towns, but our core group always stayed in touch,” Mack said.
After high school, golf became Rieb’s passion, as it did for many of them. So, a tournament among friends seemed the perfect idea.
The group, including Rieb, started getting together in 2012 to play golf. Ironically, Rieb won that first tournament. When Rieb passed away, we kept it going, but named the golf outing after him, Heller explained.
“Many of us ended up in different parts of the country,” said Mack, who lives in Farmington Hills, Mich. “Regardless, it’s one weekend of the year that we really look forward to. For a lot of us who were close friends with Chris, it’s a good way for us to remember him.”
“Through the years, it’s grown to include more friends and friends of friends and even little brothers…,” Heller said. “We have a Facebook group and we talk about it throughout the whole year awaiting the tournament.”
For the past several years, the group has used the tournament as a fund raiser for the Christopher (Chris) Rieb Fund at the Watertown Area Community Foundation. This year, 24 friends golfed in the memorial tournament. The fund continues to support Rieb’s passions in his hometown and the golfers feel good about that, and Heller confirms that the annual tournament will continue indefinitely.
“He was a good friend,” Mack said. “We lost him way too soon. The fund is a great way to carry on his legacy whether itsupports jerseys for hockey players, something for baseball or golf. It’s a good way to honor who he was.”
After 10 years of tournaments, the trophy is getting full of names and that’s good to see, Mack said. Each year, the team winners get their names on the trophy. The top individual winner receives a jean jacket… another remembrance of Rieb. Back in the day, even on the golf course, Rieb donned his, along with his backwards baseball cap and his infectious smile.