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Conaty has seen plenty of Sigma Chi Golf Classics – he’s helped coordinate and has played in all 25 of them, as a matter of fact. None of those were better than this one.

“This thing started 25 years ago literally with eight guys coming back here,” Conaty said. “We would walk the courses. We’d play 36 holes on Saturday, stop for a hot dog in between, play another day. And then it just grew. It turned into three foursomes, four foursomes, 10 foursomes and it’s just gone from there. This is the biggest ever.”

Overall, 116 brothers hit the links at the Penn State Golf Courses on Friday and Saturday and more than 125 showed up for the Steak Bake on Saturday night.

Seven 50-year Sigs were honored and drew raucous applause while Dave Kuhn’s 50-50 raffle spiel and subsequent recovery after a stumble off the porch elicited hoots. Conaty was given a lifetime achievement award for his work over the years coordinating golf outing after golf outing.

“The friendships, these guys are my lifelong friends, man,” Conaty said. “The people I talk to every week in my life – daily – are my fraternity brothers. It’s very cool.”

But it was a foursome from the Class of 2002 that took home the cherished Tacky Jackets.

John Russo, Richard Graham, Michael Nanz and Chad Snee all slipped into blazers featuring differing checkered and plaid patterns after carding a 57 to finish Saturday’s team scramble at the Blue Course.

Dubbing their team FALL ’98, Russo, Graham, Nanz and Snee battled through early cool temperatures and a wet course that dried as the day went on to win their first Tacky Jackets. Eventually, the clouds cleared and the foursome edged Team Thome (Rob Jones, Chip Thome, Greg Jones and Lucas Thome) by two strokes.

“It feels great,” Russo said afterward at the Steak Bake. “We’ve been coming up for a lot of years and what was working for us today? Honestly, we hit a couple of miracle putts and everyone contributed for us. We all contributed and it all worked for us.”

Graham, standing nearby during Russo’s interview, hopped in to emphasize his teammate’s putting prowess.

“Loooong putts,” Graham said. “He makes the putts. You wouldn’t know that Russo plays five times a year. You’d never guess it.”

Russo, Graham and Nanz played the last few Sig Chi tournaments with David Knapp but Knapp opted to play on another team, opening up a spot on Russo, Graham and Nanz’s FALL ‘98 squad. They added fellow 2002 Penn State graduate Snee who trekked back to Happy Valley from Denver to make his Sigma Chi Classic debut.

“We didn’t play very well Friday,” Russo said. “(Saturday) was better. We drank a lot (Friday) night and it helped us today.”

Team Thome finished second with a net score on a match of cards of 59 while Team Beagle (Dan Schlegel, Scott Fozard, Kurt Imdorf and Tom Giacalone) finished third with a net of 59.

Unfortunately, the vaunted AARP Group didn’t make it to the Classic this year but plenty of drinks were had in their honor.

“We had a great time,” Conaty said. “I played with the guys that are good friends that I don’t see very often but they’re my great friends and had a great time.”

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