The Arizona golf community is stepping to the fore to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Phoenix Thunderbirds are leading the way with contributions totaling $150,000.
Bryon Carney, the Big Chief of the Thunderbirds, who run the FBR Open, said his organization will be a presenting sponsor at Saturday’s LSU-Arizona State football game.
"We wanted to be part of that, so we could give (the relief effort) a local flavor,’’ said Carney of the $100,000 the Thunderbirds have earmarked for the Bush-Clinton Hurricane Relief Fund.
Carney said the Thunderbirds also will donate $50,000 through the PGA Tour’s initiative called the U.S. Golf Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. That fund has been seeded with $500,000 from the PGA Tour, which plans on raising $5 million through its various tournaments and TPC network.
The Southwest Section of the PGA announced earlier this week it plans to host a benefit tournament Sept. 24, entitled "Play Golf for the Gulf’’ at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale.
"We felt compelled to help out the community of the Gulf Coast, which is dealing with lifethreatening situations every day,’’ said Kathy Wilkes, the executive director of the Southwest Section. "(The section) is committed to match the funds collected from the event to a maximum amount of $50,000.’’
Other members of the golf community also have pitched in, planning fundraisers ranging from a Cajun-styled dinner at Legend Trail Golf Club in Scottsdale to a scramble tournament at the Duke at Rancho El Dorado in Maricopa to an instructional clinic at Shalimar Golf Club in Tempe.
"Whatever it takes to help these people out,’’ said Mark Bishop of Legend Trail, which is hosting a dinner Sept. 23, featuring such Cajun favorites as jambalaya, shrimp creole and red beans and rice. "It’s $60 per person, with all the money going directly to the American Red Cross.’’
The Duke also plans to contribute all the money it raises Friday afternoon in a four-man scramble and silent auction to benefit the Red Cross. Foursomes are $100.
"It was the first thing that came to mind: How can we get money to these people as quickly as possible,’’ said Kris Strauss of Scottsdale-based O.B. Sports, which manages the Duke.
At Shalimar, head pro John Gunby put a little different twist on the relief effort planned for Saturday afternoon, Oct. 1.
"We all realize the devastation to our Gulf states by Hurricane Katrina, and we just want to help out any way we can,’’ said Gunby, who will teach a free clinic with longtime pro Mack McCarley with donations coming in several forms.
"At the same time, we don’t want to forget about our local community, so this effort also will benefit the Webster School in Mesa for homeless and disadvantaged children.’’
In that regard, all cash donations will go to the Red Cross while donations of such items as children’s clothing and basic essentials like shampoo, deodorant and tooth paste will help the kids out at Webster School, Gunby said.
How to get in touch Phoenix Thunderbirds: (602) 870-0163 SWSPGA: (480) 443-9002 Legend Trail GC: (480) 488-8723 Shalimar Golf Club: (480) 838-0488 Duke at Rancho El Dorado: (480) 844-1100