The 7th Annual Tee Off for Kids charity golf tournament benefiting Kids Central was held on November 9, 2015 at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club. This was its first year in Ocala. The first six years were spent at Black Diamond Quarry Course in Citrus County. Black Diamond took great care of Kids Central, but with Kids Central’s corporate presence in Ocala, it made sense to relocate the tournament to the area.
November 9th dawned with massive rain storms to the east giving Nicole Pulcini Mason, Director of Community Affairs, and Mike Cooney, Golden Ocala Golf Pro, unease and trepidation. The golfers began arriving as early as 7:30 am with a shotgun start scheduled for 9:00 am. With a new registration configuration, registration moved smoothly. All of Golden Ocala’s golf carts were reserved, and the course was full with 116 golfers registered.
Following registration, golfers were directed to see Kimberly O’Laughlin on the putting green for the putting contest and the driving range for practice. If the golfers donated to be part of the putting contest, they took a chance at qualifying for a chance to sink a 50-foot putt worth $5,000. Only one golfer qualified and unsuccessfully attempted to win $5,000.
Just before 9:00 am, the golfers filled their assigned golf carts lining Golden Ocala’s clubhouse and awaited the shotgun start. Nicole welcomed the golfers, handed Mike the mic to announce the rules of play and the players were released. Additional changes included three new hole-in-one prizes on the course. A Nissan Sentra, courtesy of Pearson Nissan; a Carolina Skiff, courtesy of Millers Boating Center; and a high-end golf cart, courtesy of Ocala Golf Cart, were placed throughout the 18 holes. On hole 5, DeWald Gous, Charity International professional long driver, entertained and astounded players with his 400 yard drives. For a donation, DeWald would make their initial drive, and if the golfer sunk their ball in one shot, they would win a vacation. This year, there were no winners; however, DeWald raised an additional $1,500 for Kids Central.
The rain continued to hold off, and it only drizzled. Around 1:30 pm the players began finishing up, and everyone gathered in the upstairs ballroom for the lunch buffet and awards ceremony. Through a generous donation by Cheney Brothers, all of the food products were donated and prepared by Golden Ocala.
With the help of board members, Kevin Sheilley and Marisa Thames, Nicole raffled off prizes, closed the silent auction and distributed the awards for first place, highest score, men’s/women’s longest drive, and men’s/women’s closest to the pin. When it was time to name the highest score (last place) awardee, Nicole took over for Marisa to present the trophies to her father, Mickey Pulcini’s, team.
There are many people and businesses who made the 7th Annual Tee Off for Kids a success, including 20 volunteers and over 30 sponsors. Many dedicated sponsors, including Aetna, Bouchard, FloorMasters, Verteks, Jim and Gail Burry, MindShare, Purvis and Gray, Youth and Family Alternatives, Tito’s Vodka and Devereux, from years past continued to support the event, while several new partners, including Yard Stop, Ivy House, Carolyn and Paul Humphrey, Brown and Brown, The Zone, and Natural Form Bedding, joined the roster. We encourage you to support those businesses that support Kids Central (read the full program).
Douglas LaMay, concerned citizen and First Tee golf tournament organizer, was a tremendous help organizing the event, negotiating with Golden Ocala, and recruiting new sponsors. Community Affairs, the Community Development Committee and the Golf Tournament Planning Committee dedicated themselves to making this golf tournament a success and achieved that goal raising over $30,000 and selling out the tournament for the first time ever. The volunteers helped ensure the prize holes were covered, registration flowed and the event went off without a hitch. Their help is greatly appreciated, as well as the support of their supervisors. The Golden Ocala staff the day of the event were great and made sure everything was taken care of. Board members, Gail Burry and Dr. Mike Jordan, also attended and volunteered to watch prize holes. Becky Schatt, longtime board member, involved her son’s law firm, Schatt, Hesser, and McGraw, by including them in a corporate foursome. The involvement and support of board members is very important.