On a fall day in 1996, Mark Snodgrass got in his car to make the 480-mile trip from Orangeburg, S.C., to Nashville to begin his college journey at Trevecca.
Pulling up to the parking lot of Benson Hall, the freshman was filled with exhaustion and uncertainty, when a small act of kindness from a fellow Trevecca newcomer set the course for a lasting friendship.
Daniel Griffin was in the parking lot of Benson alongside members from his home church, First Church of the Nazarene, located just over 3 miles from campus. As a member of the church’s college ministry, Griffin, also a freshman, was there to help students move into their residence halls.
“Daniel was the first person I met when I parked in front of Benson, and I decided this was a guy I should be friends with and that’s the kind of church I wanted to be a part of,” Snodgrass recalls.
Griffin, active in the Nazarene church, had several friends attending Trevecca, but had no idea he’d be forming lifelong friendships on Move-In Day. Griffin and Snodgrass also met fellow freshmen Matthew Cameron and Matthew Hawkins on the parking lot that day, becoming fast friends.
“As a freshman, even though I already knew several students, I had no idea that I would be meeting strangers who would become lifelong friends that would still be impacting my life 23 years later,” Griffin says.
A year later, returning to Trevecca as sophomores, the four lived together in the same suite in Benson. They attended the same church, and their friendship deepened alongside their faith.
“What galvanized our friendship was being connected to the same church,” Snodgrass said. “Living with great guys who share the same values made dorm life special.”
Every year, the quartet fasted together for Lent, meeting in the McClurken Chapel to read Scripture and pray during lunch.
Looking back on those formative years at Trevecca, Snodgrass, now a pastor in Arkansas, says the four still share those same prayers.
“We’re still praying for some of the people that were on our prayer list back then, and I’m confident that God will answer those prayers,” said Snodgrass.
Cameron, now a high school AP history teacher, says the four still go through the Bible together on a weekly basis. He recalls his time at Trevecca as special, shaping him spiritually, personally and professionally.
“For me, Trevecca was an amazing place to get education and experience that I use as a dad and teacher,” Cameron recalled. “I met my wife there, so to find a person that was committed to to the Lord was invaluable.”
After graduating, the four committed to stay in touch as much as possible. It’s taken effort and dedication to stay true to that commitment, but over the years, the guys have remained present in each other’s lives, participating in each others’ weddings and sharing grief in times of loss.
“When my father died suddenly of a heart attack, Daniel, Matthew Cameron and Matt Hawkins booked a flight to Pittsburgh and were there the next day for the visitation and funeral,” Snodgrass said. “I cannot say enough how much their presence was healing and comforting to me.”
But the guys wanted to be even more intentional about staying in touch and a part of each others’ lives, especially since they were living in separate states. They decided to create an annual get-together so they could see each other, reminisce about Trevecca and compete in a sport they all love: golf.
Trevecca’s annual Golf Classic, an alumni event that supports Trevecca’s endowed scholarships, proved to be the perfect opportunity. Since 2007, the friends have participated in the tournament.
Griffin wanted to make the tournament a bit more competitive for his friends and suggested a “green jacket” competition patterned after the Masters Tournament, one of four major golf tournaments in professional golf. The idea took root, with the friends dubbing their friendly competition “The Trevecca Masters.”
But if the guys were going to do this, they were going to go all in. Griffin, who lives in Alabama, went to a local thrift store and bought the ugliest green jacket he could find. He asked his wife to embroider TNU Masters on the jacket pocket. The winner of the friends’ competition gets the honor of wearing the jacket until the next year.
Over the years, the group has made the tournament a priority, rarely missing the event short of the birth of children.
“Personally, I believe these natal interruptions to our tournament to be the result of poor planning,” said Snodgrass, tongue-in-cheek. “Our Trevecca years were good, filled with everything one could hope for in a college experience. Since graduation, life has presented its share of challenges, but we’ve never had to face them alone.”