October 7, 2011
By Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Staff
THE WOODLANDS, Texas—The light bulb went on for Insperity Championship Tournament Director Jane Wandmacher seven years ago. While reading an article about noted shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, Wandmacher discovered that Weitzman had celebrities decorate his shoes that he then auctioned off for the benefit ovarian cancer research.
So before the inaugural Insperity Championship in 2004, Wandmacher decided to kick off the event with her own, unique charitable initiative—convinced the same idea would work with a golf ball and tee.
Wandmacher got the approval of the Champions Tour Wives Association and sent oversized fiberglass golf balls and oversized wooden tees to the homes of Tour professionals. When the balls and tees starting coming back to her, the Tees for Charity tradition was born. Each player signed the ball, and with the help of their wives, they were given free reign to create a theme and decorate them.
This year marked the third edition of Tees for Charity, and the creations were auctioned off Aug. 4 during the Insperity Championship’s pro-am draw party, which brought in almost $10,000 for Golfers Against Cancer, a charitable organization in nearby Kingwood. A group of local golfers established Golfers Against Cancer to help friends and family members diagnosed with the disease. This year’s fundraising brought the three-year total for Tees for Charity to a little more than $30,000.
“When we started, my motto was that if Stuart Weitzman can do it with shoes, we can do it with a golf ball and a tee,” Wandmacher said. “I really didn’t know what to expect, and each time we’ve done this the players and their wives have gotten more creative. I don’t know of any other event that involves the players and their wives in something like this. This helps to make our event special, and we appreciate them helping us.”
This year, Chip Beck provided a golf ball and tee covered with “59” references, commemorating the historic, record-setting round he posted during the Las Vegas Invitational 20 years ago this week.
“My wife, Karen, came up with the idea and, after pulling pictures of my final putt for the 59 off the internet, she used decoupage to get the pictures on the ball. It’s the 20th anniversary of my 59, and we thought that would be a great theme for this year’s entry. I thought it turned out great. More importantly, it’s for a great cause and is a nice add-on for this event. Nobody else does something like this,” Beck said.
World Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Nicklaus displayed his easily recognizable “Golden Bear” logo prominently on his masterpiece, and the ball/tee went for almost $1,000, the biggest money-maker in this year’s Tees for Charity silent auction. Peter Jacobsen’s artwork poked fun at the travel issues involved while playing the Tour. Hale Irwin, who has a record 45 Champions Tour victories, paid tribute to his hometown of Phoenix by decorating his tee to represent a saguaro cactus.
“We go from time zone to time zone, and at this time of the year I thought getting caught up on our jet lag would be an appropriate theme,” Jacobsen said. “The Pro Links organization works hard to make sure everyone has a good time, and this charitable endeavor is for a good cause. I was more than happy to help out.”
It’s a cause that suits everyone to a tee.
Click Here to view a gallery of the tees.
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