The idea came to Stuart Scheff more than a year ago, when he was lying awake in bed. An old friend, Chuck Collard, had asked Scheff to be a corporate sponsor for Keith's Classic, the annual charity golf tournament to benefit Carly's Club, the fund-raising arm for children's research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Scheff had a better idea. What if he came up with some unusual golfing stunt, something that could generate more in pledges than he could give on his own?
"Something a little . . . stupid," Scheff said, "where people say,'I don't believe you can do it, but here's the money.' "
So he decided to play 100 holes of golf in one day on his home course, Westwood Country Club. Scheff, a 6-handicap, did it on June 21, 2005. He sped through 100 holes in 453 strokes, taking a shade under 10 hours to complete his lunatic endeavor.
"I was really motoring," said Scheff, who owns an insurance firm. "I was playing in sneakers. I was really worried that I'd have enough time. I was playing some rounds in 1:15. I broke 80 for three of the rounds, which wasn't bad. I was lapping people on the course, some of them twice. Everybody got out of my way. People were incredibly generous."
Scheff said every putt had to go into the hole. There were no gimmes, except the $17,000 he raised for Carly's Club. Today, he'll do it again -- only this time he'll be one of nine playing 100 holes in sweltering heat in the second annual "Chip In" event at Westwood CC.
Yes, golf has a generous spirit. At this time of year, there are countless charity golf events in Western New York and around the country. Today, while Scheff and his pals are dashing around Westwood -- raising more than $100,000 -- Transit Valley CC and Fox Valley CC will be hosts for the Tops Market "Our Kids" tournament, which benefits Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo.
Transit Valley and Fox Valley are among 11 tourney sites in New York and Pennsylvania helping to raise funds for the Children's Miracle Network, an alliance of top pediatric hospitals across the U.S. and Canada.
The "Our Kids" event is one of 10 charity golf tournaments that will benefit the Kaleida Health hospitals in our area over a three-month span this summer. The Rick Shanor Memorial, which raises money for transplant patient care, is slated for today at River Oaks. The area club pros will play a tournament today at Wellsville CC to benefit the Special Olympics.
It would take pages to list all the charitable golf events, from Jim Kelly's tournament to the smallest fund-raiser. Suffice it to say, no sport does more to support worthy causes in the community. Rob Ray, the former Sabre, has been giving his time to local charities, including Women and Children's Hospital, for over a decade. He said golf has always been an effective way to get people, especially his fellow pro athletes, involved in charities.
"I used to play 15 or 20 a summer," Ray said Sunday at Transit Valley, where he took part in a celebrity putting contest for the "Our Kids" tourney. "It's all worth it when a parent comes up and thanks you for putting a smile on a kid's face."
Ray is married and has a 2-year-old daughter, Jordan. He said that when you have a child of your own, you truly appreciate what it means to have a healthy baby. Ray recently found that one of the kids who was born in the same hospital and on the same day as Jordan has cancer.
The need is all around us. It's good to know that some of the finest hospitals and doctors are right in our midst, making a difference in people's lives. It's also nice to know there's a community of golf lovers out there, doing their little part to help.
Golf has a big heart, an essential humanity that allows people to give back to their community and have a little fun in the process. The game drives me mad, and I'm always threatening to quit.
Then I remind myself that I'm in love with a sport that helps save kids' lives, and I remember how proud I am to be a golfer.