Community makes benefit a success
Never was an old adage more appropriate than Saturday for the first-ever "Chili" Golf Classic, a benefit for the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters office.
Friday's weather was windy and cold. Sunday's version was even worse, with rain and freezing precipitation. But on Saturday morning, the 40 golfers who made up the field had nothing but clear skies and relatively speaking for January warm weather.
The gift of good conditions wasn't lost on John Thomas, tournament director.
"It's better to be lucky than good," Thomas said of the weather and using the old adage to describe it. "That's exactly right we got lucky with the weather."
Golfers couldn't have agreed more.
"It was cold the first two holes, but it wasn't after that," said Frank Foye. "We slid right in there (between Friday and Sunday's nasty weather). We had a great time. I wish we could have played 18 holes."
Mark Eldridge credited the tournament organizers.
"It was great," Eldridge said of the tournament. "I thought they had great control over the weather they made the sun come out."
The 10 foursomes toured the Baldwin City Golf Course in slightly over 2 hours. There were side contests along the way, including a chance to win a sports utility vehicle and a trip to Hawaii. Alas, the big prizes eluded the tourney field. A hole-in-one was necessary to claim one.
"It would have been great if I could have won the SUV," said Foye, adding it was still plenty of fun and a great way to spend a winter Saturday. "I like to play golf every chance I get and this was a good excuse. It's a good cause."
Everyone involved mentioned that part of the day's events. There was more than $6,000 raised to benefit the Big Brothers/Big Sisters mentoring program in Baldwin.
"We were thrilled with the turnout from the golfers and particularly from local businesses who were sponsors," said Thomas. "The fund raiser exceeded our goal and our highest expectations, frankly.
"I'm gratified to know that I live in a community that has so many caring people," he said. "Big Brothers/Big Sisters has been in Baldwin for about a year and this fund raiser will enable us to keep the Baldwin office open for another year."
Eldridge was especially pleased to see the outpouring of support for a local cause.
"Once again it showed how Baldwin likes to respond to a good cause," he said. "I saw quite a few people involved that I hadn't seen for awhile. It's very nice to see that."
As for the tournament itself, there was a three-way tie for first at 32. The team called the "Misfits," comprised of Ron Lawrenz, Larry Hoffimier, Bill Harmon and Curtis Hrabe won the tie breaker and were declared champions.
Also finishing at 32 were the teams of "Brooks and Roberts" (Carl Brooks, Nancy Brooks, Mark Brooks and the Rev. Nannette Roberts) and "Hired Gun," comprised of Brandon Heck, Ed Booth and Bill Severns. The "long drive" contest winner was Scott Lauridsen.
After the tournament, the golfers were treated to a chili feed at The Lodge. It was also a big hit.
"The chili was good, too," said Foye. "It was a lot of fun. I hope they do it every year."
With the success the tournament had this year, that's a safe bet. Plans are already being started for the second-annual event.
"We expect this to get bigger and better and will help us to always have a Big Brothers/Big Sisters program in Baldwin," said Thomas.
Thomas had praise for everyone involved, most notably the committee members and the sponsors. But, he had special thanks for one person.
"Larry Colson was just huge on this thing," he said. "He prepared the course, which was quite a chore, cleaned up the clubhouse and had it ready, organized the golf carts to be shipped in and many other things. He was committed all the way along."