Wendell Conditt served as the Director of the FWJGA Boy's Championship from 1972-2014. Wendell began his involvement with the boys tournament when the Fort Worth Men's Golf Association, which included members from many of the city's country clubs, conducted the tournament. The free boys tournament began in 1936 at the behest of businessman Marvin Leonard, with help from Dr. Alden Coffey, with its purpose of giving all boys, no matter financial standing, a chance to play in a tournament.
The men's association disbanded in the 1960s, but had enough money remaining for Wendell and good friend Guinn Phillips to continue conducting the tournament for a few years. Several of Wendell's friends also contributed to help keep the tournament going. However, the contributions eventually ran dry and the tournament wasn't conducted in 1972.
Jack Montgomery of Fort Worth, a PGA Tour competitor and who had a sentimental attachment to the tournament, helped Wendell resurrect the boys tournament in 1973. Not only did Montgomery help raise money, he also bagged a donation of wieners and chili, and helped conduct the younger boys at Sycamore Creek. He skipped playing in the Western Open to donate his time.
''That year, we gave away about 10,000 chili dogs,'' Wendell said. ''We gave those kids chili dogs as long as they could eat them.'' Because there were few junior tournaments at that time, the boys tournament would attract large numbers, even more than 700 players, which is one reason so many chili dogs were consumed.
Before the age of computers, Wendell, Guinn and Star-Telegram sports writer Jim Trinkle often would be figuring results and pairings until midnight.
There were several businesses that stepped in to help the tournament, and one of the biggest supporters has continued to be Marty Leonard, daughter of the tournament's founder Marvin Leonard. The boys permanent trophy is named after him.
Woodhaven assistant pro Bobby Seaholm acted as tournament chairman when Montgomery became involved and, Wendell said, Seaholm was instrumental in getting the Star-Telegram to sponsor the tournament. In fact, the tournament became known as the Star-Telegram tournament to participants until the newspaper ended its sponsorship in the '90s. Also, Coca-Cola has supplied drinks to the boys and girls competitors for many years.
Wendell was instrumental in adding the FWJGA girls tournament in 1974, which was played only at Diamond Oaks C.C. for several years under the directorship of Benita Christensen. Over the years, there have been several volunteers who have been crucial in the organization's ability to conduct the tournaments.
Wendell had talked about retiring for a few years, and he and Guinn had handed over many of the duties to their sons, John Conditt and Martin Phillips, in the '90s. However, after a few years, Martin stepped aside and Wendell jumped back in as the director. "Stepping entirely away from a tournament", Wendell said, "has been difficult". The tournament has been a big part of Wendell's life for many years. And it still was when he announced he was retiring before the 2013 tournament.
The FWJGA, comprised of volunteers, honored him by creating the Wendell Conditt Medalist Award. The award will be presented each year to the player with the lowest first-round score in each tournament. Wendell presented the first award in 2013.
Wendell has been the backbone of the FWJGA tournament, and has been instrumental, along with Marty Leonard, in ensuring the local country clubs and the City of Fort Worth have continued to provide their support by donating their courses for the girls and boys tournaments to make this a truly unique event -- the largest free junior tournament anywhere. Wendell also has had his friend, PGA great Lee Trevino, involved in helping raise money, which mainly goes for trophies. Wendell's influence and guiding hands will be missed.
You can read Wendell's obituary in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram here.