(April 2010) Recently the 11th annual Mike Ditka/Jim Hart Celebrity Golf Invitational was held in Naples at the beautiful Golf Club of the Everglades (www.gcegolf.com) to benefit the Immokalee Child Care Center. The Center was established in 1996 to provide subsidized childcare to the children of farm workers and other low income working families. Today, the Center provides care, nutrition and early education to preschoolers from families with gross income levels at or below poverty level. These children are considered to be “at risk of failure” by virtue of their circumstances. To date, this annual tournament has placed over $700,000 in the Foundation’s fund and the Child Care Center’s Tuition Subsidy Fund.
Celebrities that participated in this year’s events included the co hosts Mike Ditka and Jim Hart, ex Cincinnati Bengal’s quarterback Ken Anderson, Sonny Jurgensen of Washington Redskins’ fame, Chicago Blackhawk Hall of Famer, Stan Mikita as well as numerous other big name athletes from years gone by.
The event kicked off on Friday night with the pairings party that included an open bar, and a buffet of appetizers as well as a silent auction and live auction hosted by local Ft. Myers celebrity Jay Severson. The item that drew the most attention was a 3 day/2 night stay at Pinehurst in North Carolina along with two rounds of golf for four. This item sold for $11,000. After the auction celebrities’ names were drawn out of a hat and paired with the players.
The tournament format was 2 net best balls of five. Although each of the 21 teams played with a celebrity creating a fivesome, the pace of play was pretty good; a little over 4 hours. The Golf Club of the Everglades was the perfect venue. This 18-hole Rees Jones designed championship golf course has a practice area that includes a practice putting green, practice bunkers, short game practice area, and driving range). The course does not get a lot of play during the year – about 5,000 rounds – and it was truly immaculate. Rolling fairways gave way to manicured greens; and no houses to be found as you played the course!
After the tournament a buffet lunch was served and the prizes were awarded. The event was won by a foursome of ladies; Diana Ditka, Barbara Cox, Nancy Sullivan, Joann Wert, and ex Baltimore Colt standout, Barry Krauss. Closest to the pin contests were won by Bruce Coslet, Townshend Pettway, Joann Wert and Lloyd Garrison. Stan Mikita won the putting contest. There was also a $10,000 hole-in-one contest that nobody was able to claim.
For more information on being a part of the 2011 edition of this tournament, contact the Immokalee Child Care Center administration office at (239) 261-1774 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.