Kids real winners at golf event

June 09, 2002|By JONATHAN DALE

Special to this newspaper

HOLTVILLE — With the resounding blast of a shotgun, the 11th annual Heat Stroke golf tournament began at 7:30 a.m. Saturday on the green fairways of the Barbara Worth Golf Resort near here.

Hosted by the Imperial County Sheriffs' Association, the event was aimed at raising money for Imperial Valley youth athletics, from Little League to summer recreational swimming to youth basketball throughout the Valley, said county Sheriff's Office Correctional Cpl. John Dougan.

Helping Dougan coordinate this year's tournament was sheriff's Sgt. George Moreno.

All of the 120 players at the tourney seemed to be having a great time on the course.

As Moreno put it, "We have some people out here playing professionally and some just having fun."

As if to emphasize that remark, Q96's Tony Driskill playfully hit a golf ball toward the coordinators' golf cart.

Throughout the morning, shouts of encouragement on the fairways accompanied successful drives while players urged their teammates in silence on the greens.


Mixed groans and laughter also could be heard as many of the amateurs sliced the ball this way and that, and the sounds of balls hitting trees, signs and other objects prompted even more laughter from both the golfers and the volunteers who helped during the tournament.

Participants were from many job descriptions, from law enforcement officials to doctors and business owners, and all agreed on one thing: It's all for the kids.

"As long as these guys give back to the youth of the Imperial Valley, I'm happy," said District Attorney Gilbert Otero.

When asked about the tournament, Baldo Villafana of Alford Distributing Co. in El Centro replied, "I love it. It's lots of fun. It's all for a good cause, so it makes it worthwhile."

Villafana's teammate Mitch Barnes agreed: "Anything that helps the kids."

The tournament was a four-man scramble in which teams of four players each took turns teeing off and hitting the ball, all the while using the best drive and best shot as the team's ball for each hole.

After a week in which the mercury stretched to 115 degrees in El Centro on Thursday, Otero and Barnes noted how pleasant Saturday was in comparison.

"It's a beautiful day," said Otero. "The weather's great."

Barnes agreed, "The weather turned out really well."

A breeze flowed throughout the day, keeping the golfers on Saturday cooler than the teams of Friday, when the temperature reached 110 degrees on the course, according to Dougan who golfed that day.

Because so many teams registered for the event, 13 additional teams played Friday afternoon.

The main sponsors of the tournament were Alford Distributing, Pepsi-Cola of Imperial Valley, Home Depot, the Paradise and Viejas casinos, the Imperial Valley Press and Michelob Lite. Both Dougan and Moreno thanked the sponsors and volunteers for the event along with their own families, John Hildreth of the Barbara Worth Golf Resort pro shop and the many contributors who helped with the event.

"We could not do this without the help of local businesses," stressed Dougan, "The less we have to spend, the more we can give to the kids."

Moreno agreed: "Whether it's merchandise or donations, nearly everyone in the Valley has contributed in some way."

Various contests involving outstanding shots such as hole-in-ones and longest single shots awarded golfers anything from free gasoline to a new car. There also was a raffle after that gave away more prizes. The overall winning team of the tournament was from Direct Auto Plaza in El Centro, consisting of Yung Ko, Suk Hee Jang, Min Soo Park, and Heung Sik Park.

According to Moreno, the event made between $15,000 and $20,000. As Dougan put it, "The true winners are the kids."

Donations still are being accepted. Those wishing to contribute may call the county Sheriff's Office at 339-6301.

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