Lopez golf tournament to celebrate 25th year

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- There will be some special events and guest appearances to look forward to as an Albany charity event celebrates its silver anniversary.

The 25th annual Nancy Lopez Hospice Golf Classic will be taking place Friday and Saturday to raise funds for Albany Community Hospice.

"We are trying to make it a little more special this year," said Mandy Davis, development coordinator of the Phoebe Foundation. "We want people to come out and enjoy it."

Before the event begins, there will be a pre-tournament bash and raffle at Doublegate Country Club starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Festivities will include a raffle for an all-expenses-paid vacation, a silent auction, live entertainment and refreshments.

"Four hundred people typically attend," Davis said. "It's one more way we can raise money."

All events will be open to the public, with a $100 donation admitting two people. Tournament participants will automatically receive a ticket.

The classic will kick off Friday at the Doublegate Country Club. It will be conducted in morning and afternoon rounds, with registrations for both starting at 7 a.m. and noon, respectively. Prizes will be awarded to first- and second-place finishers during each round.

Prizes will also be given for a hole-in-one, for longest drive and closest to the pin. Each player from the overall winning team will receive a trip to Las Vegas.

On Saturday, Lopez and some other Ladies Professional Golf Association personalities will host a golf clinic from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at The First Tee of Albany.

The event is open to children ages 7-18, with participants receiving first-hand instruction from Rosie Jones, Christina Kim and Kim Bauer. The cost is $30 per participant.

Sponsorship opportunities start at $400 for the individual golfer and increase to $4,000. Participants will play in groups of four.

In all, the event has raised $1.5 million over the years. The Lopez Classic raised $5,000 the first year, and recently, has brought in roughly $168,000 a year.

"Nancy Lopez being involved, and her support is so important," Davis said. "I think the work hospice does is what makes it so successful.

"We have come a long way. We want this to be the biggest year we've had. It's important to raise money in any way we can."

Lopez herself is impressed with the enthusiasm the tournament generates every year. And the years have not dimmed her motivation.

"Everyone I've known who's used hospice has had good things to say about it," she said in a recent phone interview. "Hospice means a lot to the community. It's great the progress we have made.

"I've always wanted to be involved in charities, and Albany has been my home for 30 years. When you're a professional athlete, I feel that it's your responsibility to give back."

Over the last few years, funds from the tournament have gone toward the Willson Hospice House, which opened earlier this year. This year's event will raise funds to help patients and caregivers pay utility bills and purchase medications.

The tournament will also raise funds for Camp Good Grief, a summer program for children in the area suffering from the recent loss of a significant figure in their lives.

"I just want people to participate," Lopez said. "It's going to be a great cause. It's a great charity to help."

Registration for the tournament is due Tuesday. For more information, call (229) 312-GIVE.