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Golfing Cranberry brothers are chips off a familiar block

| Saturday, June 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
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Nicklaus (left). Hogan (middle) and Palmer (right) are golfing brothers of the Cuny family in Cranberry.

Arnie. Jack. Ben.

Mention those three names in succession to a golfer, and there's no need to add the surnames.

Palmer. Nicklaus. Hogan.

But if you hear those three surnames in succession and you're in Cranberry, you might be at the Cuny family home.

And you'd still instantly think of golf.

Jeffrey and Dianna Cuny named their first three sons, in order, after golfing legends Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Not surprisingly, the Cuny boys were introduced to golf at an early age.

They have a long way to go to attain the immortal status of their namesakes when it comes to the sport, but Hogan, Nicklaus and Palmer Cuny have shown myriad signs of their proficiency in golf.

“We've been golfing pretty much our whole lives,” said Nicklaus, the middle of the Cuny boys.

“Even when we were really young, our grandpa made us clubs and we were putting and stuff at I don't even know what age. My dad's been in the golf business all his life. Golfing is a big part of our family.”

Within eight days of each other earlier this month, the two eldest Cunys won a Kings Restaurants/Tri-State PGA junior golf tournament. Nicklaus, who recently finished his sophomore year at Central Catholic, won the 15-16 boys age group at the Kings Tour's season-opening event June 10 at Hickory Heights Golf Club.

Hogan took honors in the 17-18 age group at the tour stop at Seven Oaks Country Club on June 18.

At Kings tournaments, the two oldest Cuny boys aren't competing directly with each other because they are in different age brackets (Palmer, incidentally, is 12). But that doesn't mean each doesn't use the other to push himself.

“Absolutely, guaranteed, for sure,” Hogan said, with a laugh, when asked if the brothers are competitive. “Every time we play. I don't think there's a single time we've played golf we don't have a match and try to beat each other.

“It's really cool that I have two brothers that I can compete against, and it's great playing with them. They're pretty competitive in everything they do — not just golf, but every aspect of their lives.”

That's what made this past year's WPIAL Class AAA golf team championship so special for the family. Hogan and Nicklaus were key members of the Central Catholic team that won its first WPIAL title — and they got to do it together.

“That was really cool,” Hogan said. “Especially to be able to do it with my brother.”

Hogan, who recently graduated high school, will golf for the team at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. The team is an NCAA Division III powerhouse. Until the fall, he plans on playing in tournaments ranging from a Western Pennsylvania Golf Association amateur championship qualifier earlier this week to a PGA Junior Series tournament at Penn State to other Kings events.

Nicklaus has set a goal to win Kings tour player of the year honors for the 15-16 age grouping. “Just like my brother did,” Nicklaus said. “I want to follow in his footsteps.” Hogan Cuny won the 15-16 tour title in 2011.

Nicklaus has entered American Junior Golf Association tournaments this summer, and he also plans on playing the PGA Junior Series stop at Penn State. Blessed with deft touch in his short game, Nicklaus said he strives to lead Central Catholic to another WPIAL title and qualify for the PIAA championships as an individual. He also has set a goal to play for an NCAA Division I golf team.

Palmer in the lone lefthander among the brothers. “He hits the ball perfectly straight — and pretty far for his age,” Hogan said. “He loves playing with us as much as he can.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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