Paine golf tournment builds on success

Posted by ncarter | 07/21/2010 04:37 AM

Story by David Westin
The Augusta Chronicle

July 20--Last year's inaugural Paine College Golf Tournament was such a rousing success -- the event raised nearly $25,000 for the Lions' golf program -- that it seemed it would be hard to top in 2010.

It appears that won't be a problem. The second annual tournament, set for Aug. 31 at Jones Creek Golf Club, already has another full field of 50 three-man teams, and sponsorship money is up from this time last year.

The field filled up last week. The cost was $300 per three-man team, or $100 for an individual.

"We've got a standby list again," said Kenny Larry, who is back as the chairman of the tournament committee.

Sponsorships are still being accepted. Anyone interested in sponsorships or getting on the waiting list should contact Paine College at (706) 821-8233.

With sponsorship money ahead of last year's pace, thanks in part to a $3,500 donation from one area foundation, the tournament is setting a goal of $50,000 raised for the golf program.

Last year's money went for golf equipment, range finders, scholarships, assisting in recruiting and to cover expenses to send the team to the PGA Minority Golf Championships.

The Paine College Golf Tournament started in response to the fact the Paine team qualified for the minority tournament in 2008, but the trip was canceled, with the school citing lack of funds.

In the wake of an outpouring of public support after word got out about the problem, Frances Wimberly and other Paine officials thought a benefit tournament might help out. It certainly has.

"The tournament is doing very, very well," Larry said.

The tournament is using the same format as last year: a three-man captain's choice. Augusta native and Champions Tour winner Jim Dent will return as honorary chairman and play.

The interest in keeping the tournament strong doesn't surprise Wimberly, who is the assistant vice president of institutional advancement at Paine.

"Many of the people I've talked to so far talked to people who participated in the tournament last year. They like the format," she said. "When I went to talk to sponsors, some were ready."

The only problem so far is a good one. Only 50 teams can go off in the afternoon shotgun start. The course can't handle any more players.

"Because of the response, we're looking at going to a double shotgun start (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) next year," Larry said.

Dent, who attended Paine College before becoming a touring pro, is one of the biggest backers of the tournament. Last year, he had two teams of family members. He turned down complimentary slots and paid for the teams himself. The Tampa, Fla., resident will do the same this year.

"Jim just loves that we're able to have a tournament like this where he's honorary chairman," said Larry, who visited with Dent recently when he was in town. "He feels like he's giving back to the community and he is. His name is a draw."

When Larry was asked to be the committee chairman last year, he said he would only do the first two events, then step aside. It looks like he'll be back next year.

"Frances said, 'Just do it one more year, Ken,' " Larry said. "I told them I'd see. I probably will. It's a lot of work, but it's really rewarding."

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