Kiwanis holding annual golf tourney
Inaugural luau, mini golf course among additions for 2013
by Scott Schlaufman, Sports editor
LUMBERTON — For Lumberton resident Mark Lassiter, there’s certain pride that comes with playing in the annual Kiwanis All-American Golf Tournament.
It’s pride that comes with the tournament’s purpose — raising money to help children around Robeson County.
“I enjoy playing in benefit golf tournaments where you can see what the money goes versus playing somewhere where you don’t have any idea where the money, donations or any of that goes,” Lassiter said.
That in mind, it’s no surprise that Lassiter and teammate Keith McGirt are back to defend their championship from last year when the tournament’s 36th edition tees off Saturday at Pinecrest Country Club.
Though the two-man best ball tournament is still the centerpiece, this year will feature several side events both on and off the course.
“We wanted to be able to get non-golfers involved in our fundraising weekend,” said Joseph Martin, the tournament’s chairman.
The biggest addition this year is the inaugural Kiwanis Luau, sponsored by Allen Orthopedics, from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the clubhouse. The luau will feature live music by the Tsunami Wave Riders, a Hawaiian rock band based out of Charlotte and Wilmington. The ticket price of $50 a person or $80 per couple includes food, beer and a cash bar. Past champions are admitted free.
Martin said the event raises money and also helps give out-of-town golfers some entertainment.
“For people on Saturday night, there’s something for them to do,” he said.
At the tournament itself, the putting green at Pinecrest will be transformed into a miniature golf course, where golfers and their families will be able to play for a small fee. Also new this year will be stations around the course with representatives from organizations that the tournament’s money helps out.
“I would just like the golfers and non-golfers that are out there to see what their money goes towards,” Martin said. “I felt like that would add some value to the tournament.”
As for the golf itself, the tournament is expected to be as competitive as always.
A full field of 80 teams is expected, with four duos that have won a championship together, and 13 total former champions participating.
“Every team that will participate this weekend has the dreams and belief that they can win on any given weekend,” Lassiter said
Lassiter and McGirt’s top competition from last year, the teams of Dyrck Fanning and Scott Benton and John Haskins and Larry Clonginger, are both playing again. All three teams are past champions, with Lassiter and McGirt edging the others out in a two-hole playoff last year.
Mark Kinlaw and Patrick Smith are teamed up and looking for their fourth Kiwanis title as a team. Both are former county champions who most recently won the tournament together in 2002. Individually, the two have won since then, with Kinlaw winning in 2011 with Jeff Wishart and Smith winning back-to-back in 2004 and 2005, also with Wishart.
Other top teams include former champion Phillip Wallwork, who is teamed up with 2012 county champion Brad Locklear; Jeff Wishart, a four-time champion is teamed with reigning county champion Ryan Bass. The young team of 2011 county champion Ian Locklear, a current UNCP golfer, teamed up with a Purnell Swett High School golfer, Justin Chavis, and the team of seven-time county champion Kyle Covington and Tommy Britt are still looking for their first Kiwanis title.
Lassiter said in terms of play, the tournament is more of a sprint than the county championship.
“You’ve got to get hot and you’ve got to stay hot,” he said. “You’ve got to make birdies and if you don’t, you’re getting lapped by the field.”
Pinecrest head professional Dwight Gane said the only concern about the tournament this year is whether the weather will cooperate.
Martin said if rain is an issue, the goal is to finish Saturday’s round and get everything flighted, even if it takes until Sunday morning to complete it.
Gane said Pinecrest enjoys holding the event each year.
“We are really looking forward to hosting this tournament,” Gane said. “They do a bunch of good for the children in the county.”
Reach Sports Editor Scott Schlaufman at 910-272-6111 or email@example.com
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