It was a blustery day with winds over thirty miles per hour at Oberlin Golf Club for the second annual Smucker’s Birdies for Charity, but that did not stop Northern Ohio PGA professionals from raising over $100,000 for charity.
417 birdies were made during the day!
Twenty-seven professionals from fourteen facilities played 72 holes of golf to benefit five Northern Ohio charities on September 27th. The Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation selected five charities that it would support this year including The Turn, Ohio Girls Golf Foundation, Clearview H.O.P.E., Cleveland Clinic Challenge Golf, and the Ben Curtis Family Foundation.
The event began months prior when Smucker’s agreed to a $10,000 title sponsorship. Weeks before the event, professionals began to send emails to their membership, post flyers around their club, and stand on the first tee to solicit donations from members. Pledges were made in flat donations as well as a dollar amount per birdie. Over 400 individual donors from fourteen facilities contributed to today’s donations.
The most successful fundraiser of the day was Kirtland’s Mark Bixler, making 21 birdies at $1015 per birdie for a total of $23,115. When asked about his success, he said “I understand that my members get asked for a lot of donations, so I was amazed at the response that I received.”
The day began with professionals registering and receiving a coordinated shirt and hat as well as donuts and coffee and having a group photo taken. Players had the option to take a golf cart or a Finn Scooter provided by Devon Holden.
Northern Ohio PGA President Steve Parker thanked the professionals for coming out to support Northern Ohio charities. “It’s great to see the Smucker’s Birdies for Charity surpassing our first year and continuing to grow. I appreciate all the support of my fellow NOPGA members with their participation and making a positive impact to help other charities,” Parker said.
Executive Director David Griffith also felt appreciation, saying “We are overwhelmed with the generosity that has been shown from our PGA professionals and their club members and customers.”
Participating facilities in the event were: Kirtland, Brookside, Pepper Pike, Avon Oaks, Youngstown, Portage, Walden, Congress Lake, Shaker Heights, Lakewood, Findlay, Oberlin, Barrington, and GolfTec. Professionals paired themselves before teeing off and chose their own playing partners, mostly either in twosomes or threesomes to encourage a quick pace of play.
The first 36 holes began at 9 a.m. and after the morning session was complete, a total of almost $69,000 had been raised, the same amount that had been raised in 2020. Players gathered for lunch sponsored by Green Circle Growers and listened to representatives from the five charities speak about their organizations.
Robb Schulze from the Turn spoke about how the man who began The Turn, Bob Wharton, was a member at Oberlin and wanted stroke survivors, traumatic brain injuries, and other people with disabilities to be able to play golf as an outlet. Ron Tristano from Cleveland Clinic Challenge Golf is also works with people recovering from people recovering from strokes, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and amputations. Ben Curtis from the Ben Curtis Family Foundation spoke about how he and his wife Candace began their foundation after seeing how big of an issue food insecurity is in many Northern Ohio schools. Renee Powell from Clearview H.O.P.E. was unable to attend but sent in a video where she spoke about her program that helps veterans cope with life after coming back from serving our country. Lynne Plaisance, Executive Director of the Ohio Girls Golf Foundation thanked the Section Foundation for allowing the game of golf to continue to grow for girls in Ohio.
After lunch concluded, professionals went back out onto the course to play the final 36 holes. Throughout the day, players snacked on treats from Uncrustables to fruit snacks, and even an ice cream bar with all the delightful Smucker’s toppings while checking out the leaderboard of funds raised at the turn. An all-day closest to the pin contest on the par 3’s was sponsored by FootJoy’s Joe Lombardi; each proximity winner receives a pair of NewFlex shoes.
This year, the Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation raised over $100,000, but that number will grow as there are five clubs planning to host satellite events at their own clubs in the coming weeks. These clubs include Mayfield Country Club, Sand Ridge Golf Club, Red Tail Golf Club, Canterbury Golf Club, and Alliance Country Club.
In alphabetical order here are the people who helped make this event a success as well as the money they have raised so far:
FROM AVON OAKS: Judd Stephenson, Matt Stroud, Dylan Champney, Michael Miller, 34 Birdies
FROM BARRINGTON: Mark Sierak, 25 Birdies
FROM BROOKSIDE: Joe Borowski, Cory Kumpf, Mark Scott, Jr., 63 Birdies
FROM CONGRESS LAKE: Jason Nussbaum, 23 Birdies
FROM FINDLAY: Jordan Schroeder, Julian Pina, 50 Birdies
FROM GOLFTEC: Kevin Sullivan, 20 Birdies
FROM LAKEWOOD: Tom Waitrovich, Tim Perin, 25 Birdies
FROM KIRTLAND: Mark Bixler, 21 Birdies
FROM OBERLIN: Cliff Purtilo, 10 Birdies
FROM PEPPER PIKE: Steve Carter, Rob Moss, Sean McGuire, Zac Cork, 45 Birdies
FROM PORTAGE: Adam Lewicki, 23 Birdies
FROM SHAKER HEIGHTS: Drew Pierson, Jordan Paolini, 12 Birdies
FROM WALDEN: Collin McEndree, Tyler McHugh, 44 Birdies
FROM YOUNGSTOWN: Jon Jones, 22 Birdies
For more information on the event, see the Northern Ohio PGA Section Foundation website.
— story by Danielle Nicholson, NOPGA Foundation/Operations Manager