Upon becoming semi-retired after 30-plus years as a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, I became a free-lance journalist. One of my first free-lance job offers was covering charity golf tournaments for a national magazine, Tee It Up.
I accepted the offer, not for the pay, which wasn’t much, but because it sounded appealing. And it was.
I had played in quite a few charity events while with the Times, and played in even more during my stint with Tee It Up before the magazine folded. A few years ago I attended a seminar on charity golf at private course in Orange County and I later became the co-chairman of two tournaments of my own, one benefitting the Sowing Seeds for Life food bank in La Verne and the other benefiting the Tierra del Sol Foundation of Sunland, an organization that helps people with that a mentally challenged.
So I think I think I qualify as somewhat of an expert and know what makes a good tournament and what doesn’t. The first thing is the course, preferably a private course that most people never get a chance to play. Other requirements are a good charity, good sponsors and tournament organizers who not only know what they are doing but also are friendly and courteous. Good food, complimentary cocktails, a short but worthwhile live auction, and at least a few celebrities taking part are other plusses.
There’s a tournament coming up on Monday, June 18, that meets all these requirements and more.
It is the fifth annual Provident Financial Management Golf Classic at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. It benefits the Bogart Pediatric Cancer Research Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy.
This year the tournament is being played in the memory of Willie Robertson, who passed away last year from cancer. He is the co-founder of Robertson Taylor, one of the world’s leading insurance brokers which this year became a presenting sponsor of the tournament.
I have played in this tournament that past two years and can honestly say it ranks as one of the best ever I have experienced.
The participants come from far and wide. Last year I met one gentleman from Florida and another from Northern California.
Two years ago, my foursome included Ron Barzen, who I found out regularly plays with my good friends Jim and Martha Blackburn at the Glendora Country Club.
Last year, I ran into two celebrity friends, former USC and NFL quarterback Rodney Peete and actor Rocky Carroll, one of the stars of CBS’ top-rated “NCIS.”
The Sherwood Country Club, located about 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles in beautiful Hidden Valley, is in my opinion the finest golf course in Southern California.
What sets Sherwood apart from the others, I believe, is its location. It is routed among ancient oak trees, jasmine and rose bushes and surrounded by multi-million mansions where such people as legendary Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky used to live. (Personal note: Scully, at my request, was our special guest at the Tierra del Sol tournament in 2011.)
Sherwood's Jack Nicklaus-designed 7,052-yard, par-72 course is magnificent and so is the ultra-modern clubhouse.
Television viewers have gotten a glimpse of Sherwood because Greg Norman held his Shark Shootout there for 11 years and more recently it has been the site of Tiger Woods’ annual charity tournament.
Yes, it is a fabulous place. But it is also very exclusive and very private. It’s easier to get a tee time at St. Andrews than it is at Sherwood.
The entry fee for the Provident Financial Management Golf Classic is $1,500, and that is a bargain. It used to be $2,500. Sponsorship opportunities begin at $10,000.
The tournament raised more than $523,000 during its first three years, and brought in another $165,000 last year.
At the post-tournament festivities last year, Provident Financial COO Ivan Axelrod said: “It was a privilege to enjoy Sherwood Country Club, but what truly made this event a success was the generosity of our players.
“Over 100 players from all corners of the business community came together for a vital cause, and together we are ensuing the doctors are the Bogart Labs at Children’s Hospital will be able to continue their groundbreaking research to save countless children’s lives.”
I recently talked with Joe Kaczorowski, a Calabasas resident who is the current president and former treasurer of the Bogart board. Kaczorowski is a manager partner of Grosvenor Park Media, a film financing firm based in Santa Monica. Among the movies it has financed is the “Hurt Locker.”
“When talking about this tournament, you start with the venue,” Kaczorwski told me. “But another thing that makes it so special is the people involved, and that includes the people who participate and support for such an important cause.”
Bill Vuylsteke, vice chairman of the Bogart board and senior managing director of Provident Financial, said, "The event offers a great opportunity to enjoy a to-rated course, and every dollar raised on the fairways directly benefits the lives of those who need it most."
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