Martin Houston will be guest host of Turner Golf Tournament

Former Alabama fullback Martin Houston (35), the leading rushing in the 1992 Iron Bowl, was a teammate of the late Kevin Turner and will be the guest host at his annual golf tournament in Prattville on Sept. 1.

PRATTVILLE – Former Alabama fullback Martin Houston will be the guest host for the 23rd annual Kevin Turner Golf Tournament on Sept. 1 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill, Prattville YMCA officials announced.

The tournament has been a popular fixture in the late spring, but concern over the coronavirus pandemic forced the move to later in the summer and a search for a new guest host after Sylvester Croom withdrew from the event because of health concerns. Croom committed to serve as the host at a future tournament, but organizers needed a new host and settled on Houston, Turner’s backup at Alabama in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“We are so excited to have Martin Houston, one of Kevin’s former teammates, come and be a part of this year’s event and to serve as guest host,” said Prattville YMCA Assistant General Director Keith Cantrell, who initiated the tournament in 1998. “In addition to a radio show, an insurance business and being a public speaker, Martin also pastors a church. He represents all the things the Y stands for. His willingness to be a part of this event is a statement of who Martin is and just one more acknowledgment of the quality person Kevin was.”

A former Class 4A Player of the Year at Cherokee County High, Houston was redshirted in 1988 but burst onto the scene in 1989 as the Crimson Tide’s third leading rusher just ahead of Turner. His best season came as a senior as a first-time starter after the graduation of Turner, rushing 103 times for 457 yards to help Alabama to the 1992 national championship. In his Crimson Tide career, he rushed for 1,042 yards on 235 carries.

Houston is a professional speaker with his own Web site (www.martinhouston.org) and serves as general manager of Alabama ONE Insurance. In addition, he is host of the Martin Houston Show on Tide 100.9-FM in Tuscaloosa during the week days and lead pastor of Harvest Church in Coker on Sundays.

“It’s great that it is Kevin’s tournament, but I wouldn’t do it just because it’s for Kevin if it didn’t have a purpose that I believe in supporting,” Houston said. “That’s what made it so easy, that I have the opportunity to show support for a friend but also do something that has intrinsic value beyond both Kevin and I – the impact that the Y has in the community.

“Kevin was a dear friend that had a great impact on my life, so it’s an opportunity to show support for something that he believed in as well.”

Turner loaned the golf tournament his name after growing up and participating in sports through the YMCA. He went on to a standout career at Prattville High (1984-86) and Alabama (1988-91) before playing for eight seasons in the National Football League with the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. Despite his untimely passing from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in March, 2016, he remains one of the most visible sports personalities ever produced in Prattville, where the municipal stadium field was dedicated in his honor in August, 2016.

He made a brief appearance at the 2015 tournament with guest host Gary Hollingsworth, a former Alabama quarterback and teammate of Turner. After Turner’s death, the Turner family was honored as the second guest host. Former Tide tailback Siran Stacy was the guest host in 2017, Antonio Langham and Andrew Zow served as co-hosts in 2018 and Sherman Williams served last year.

Proceeds from the tournament fund the YMCA Coach a Child Scholarship Fund. To date, approximately $500,000 has been raised through the work of the tournament, providing financial aid to make YMCA services available to all persons regardless of their inability to pay. Last year, the Prattville YMCA provided financial aid to more than 2,500 individuals, many of them children, by awarding $180,000 in scholarships. This year, the goal is to raise $218,000 through the Coach-A-Child Fund Campaign.

The tournament was originally scheduled for June 15 but was moved to later in the summer by coronavirus concerns. The tournament, in its fifth year at RTJ Capitol Hill after spending the first 18 years at the Prattville Country Club, was played on all three courses last year, but construction on the Senator course will limit the event to the Legislator and Judge courses this year.

“Several things have caused us to make some changes to this year’s event,” Cantrell said. “First, of course, is the coronavirus pandemic. We felt given all that is associated with that, to push the tournament back a few months would be a good thing to do. Second, one of the courses at Capitol Hill is being renovated so we have one less course. We will play a group in the morning (8 a.m. shotgun start) and two flights in the afternoon this year instead of everyone playing in the afternoon. The morning flight is not all bad, it is a lot cooler!”

Teams playing in the morning will be provided a lite breakfast in addition to lunch.

Individuals or businesses wishing to serve as sponsors of the tournament or to sign up your team to participate in the tournament can contact Cantrell at (334) 358-9622 or e-mail him at kcantrell@prattvilleymca.org.