Gwen Gordon, a newly retired Clubhouse Manager from Seminole Golf Club, recently joined our Country Club Committee as a volunteer. The Committee helps us meet new members at golf clubs to assist our Chapter with Club Drives, hosting CMAA Marathon Golf and applying for foundation grants. Gwen bought some tickets to our 50-50 raffle and her name was picked out of the jar as the winner. We raised $1,700 at The Tee Times tent and our 50-50 raffle website. “I have never won anything!” exclaimed Gwen. “I am donating it all back to The First Tee.” Thank you Gwen. We are excited to have you join the Country Club Committee and help us serve more students and Veterans in Palm Beach County.
Great weather, Sunday pins and incredible PGA TOUR turf conditions made for an exciting day on the Champion Course at PGA National on Monday morning following the tournament. Low gross winners (pictured above with red flags) were Coach Rick Hengstenberg and Young Professional member Michael Calkin with a score of 67. Low net winners were Jack Quinn and Wayne Sanders with a score of 59 (pictured above with blue flags). “Our supporters just had a fantastic time,” said Chapter Executive Director Carl Mistretta. “The course was in the best shape we have ever seen, the greens were lightning, so were the fairways and no one missed the high rough! Six of our students played and a few even played from the back tees.” Loud SHOUT OUT to our new friends at the DFS Open for sponsoring our event through their annual charity golf tournament.
Director of Programs Connie Capanegra teamed up with three of our Chapter students Audry Dzwill, Jayda Dookie, Zoe Shamy and played with PGA TOUR professional Vincent Whaley the Saturday morning of tournament week at the Palmer Course at PGA National. Executive Director Carl Mistretta teamed with Chapter students Sebastian Nachilly, Wiley Inman and Kai Francis for the boys’ team with PGA TOUR professional Daniel Wetterich. “What an incredible experience!” exclaimed Palm Beach Gardens High School varsity golfer Jayda Dookie. “We had a great time and I learned about what it really takes to play professional golf. The food and gifts were awesome. Thank you so much Honda Classic!” The girls’ team shot a 59 to edge the boys’ team by one shot. “Congrats to the girls,” said Wiley. “We are never going to hear the end of it!”
The Honda Classic and our Chapter Coaches partnered with The Els for Autism Foundation to host another successful clinic Els for Autism Clinic on a perfect weather day during tournament week for children with autism. Thirty plus local children attended and had a wonderful time on the driving range. This year was extra special as four-time major champion Ernie Els and his wife Liezl joined us in a fun day of golf and social learning. Ernie could not help but laugh as his son Ben made golf shots and screamed out Tiger Woods as he ‘high fived’ everyone in sight. Through Ben’s inspiration, many people around the world are learning a new perspective on autism through the Els for Autism Foundation and the Els Center of Excellence, located in Jupiter.
Chapter students Felipe Obando and Jacie Goodman served as roving PGA TOUR Junior Course Reporters at The Honda Classic. The students received inside the ropes media credentials and shadowed reporters preparing articles and videos for media publications. This experience is designed to enhance their communication and journalism skills. Jacie commented, “Course reporting is something I’ll never forget. Seeing these amazing professional golfers is life changing. The fact that I was able to interact with them and ask questions was incredible. The best part of being the course reporter was that finally met Rickie Fowler, which was amazing, even if I was freaking out every step of the way!” Felipe added, “I got the chance to interview, see, and talk to Joaquín Niemann, Emiliano Grillo, Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Brooks Koepka, and many more players. I was paired with Steve Waters from the Palm Beach Post and he guided us through the interviews. The experience was awesome!”
The ninth annual Women’s Leadership Forum presented by The Honda Classic was an enlightening and educational event held Tuesday morning during tournament week. More than 200 women gathered at PGA National Resort & Spa and participated in an engaging morning on topics vital to their professional and personal development. The two leadership guest speakers were Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer at Endeavor and Michele Rigby Assad, a former undercover officer in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations Chapter female participants joined Coach Connie, Coach Gennifer, Board Member Maria Marino and Chapter Volunteer Coordinator Liz Alter to attend and enjoy the event to help them prepare for their academic and professional careers.
For the seventh consecutive year, United Technologies has provided our Chapter with a generous grant benefitting our programs serving Veterans. A check was presented in the amount of $35,000 in the Patriots Outpost (the tournament’s military appreciation tent sponsored by UTC) in the presence of hundreds of Veterans. Special shout out to our Veterans Bob Massimini, John Melvin and Tom Molloy for the inspiring support. “United Technologies continued incredible generosity has allowed our Veterans golf programs to expand every year,” said Bobby Hendel, Chapter President. “UTC allows us to conduct year-round golf programs for Veterans. These programs and the Patriots Outpost are a great way to thank our nation’s heroes.” In honor of the men and women who have and are currently serving our great nation, The Honda Classic in partnership with United Technologies offers complimentary tickets for Active Duty, Reservists, Retirees, their registered Dependents and Non-Retired Veterans Thursday through Sunday of tournament week.
Hundreds of Chapter participants and area students visited The Honda Classic on Tuesday afternoon of tournament week for our annual First Tee Junior Clinic. Students attending from outreach programs included: Love Our Nation, Boys & Girls Club St. Lucie County, Samaritan Center, Boys & Girls Club Palm Beach County and the Special Olympics. Newly inducted World Golf of Hall member Dennis Walters put on a fantastic show with his new dog Gussie. This was Gussie’s first show. PGA TOUR Professional, Harris English joined the students for an afternoon of hitting shots and answering questions. He even hit a few shots with Chapter students Theo, Zoe, Tyler and Sebastian. Harris and Dennis signed many autographs and took tons of pictures with the students. A special thank you to The Honda Classic for hosting the Junior Clinic each year and for impacting our chapter with over $100,000 each year!
Congratulations to Sungjae Im for winning the 2020 Honda Classic. Sungjae Im tamed The Bear Trap. The 21-year-old South Korean started fast and finished stronger Sunday, winning The Honda Classic by one shot over Mackenzie Hughes and Tommy Fleetwood for his first career PGA TOUR victory in his 50th attempt. Im shot a 4-under 66 on Sunday, finishing at 6 under to match the second-highest winning score since The Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007. He was the TOUR’s rookie of the year last season, plus has played more tournaments and more rounds than anyone since the 2018-19 season began nearly a year and a half ago. Mark your calendars. The 2021 Honda Classic will be played March 15 – 21, 2021.