Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Yarger Memorial Golf Scramble

     It's hard to argue that this blog, on a regular basis, is not self-promoting, because after all, it is all about me, my life experiences and travels, and my family, but this is the first time I'll admit it right off the bat. This blog is a shameless self promotion about my family's charity golf tournament, but tell you what, at least I'll give you a little history and story with it to make it more entertaining....

     Not all my family's ideas start by conversing around a beer keg, but some of the best ones do. This was the case 15 years ago at the end of our family reunion at Ontario County Park. I had made my rounds talking with the relatives that I don't interact with regularly and had circled back to hang with some of the fun ones that I do.  For some reason, in my recollection of it, I put a keg in there, though we don't normally have a keg at the reunions, but you can be sure of one thing, that there was beer involved.
The Kays at an early tournament.
  I was having a conversation with my cousin George Kay (Grumpy), and he mentioned that he had just started golfing.  (George's dad was my uncle and a step-brother to my father.  That family never separated themselves with the word step, they just were brothers and sisters.  Since my grandfather took them in, they all considered themselves to be Yargers.  My cousin George felt the same way, and when we launched the first tournament he insisted that it simply be named the Yarger Memorial, not the Kay-Yarger Memorial, and this tradition has been carried on since.  I think it is fitting since the tournament honors that generation that considered themselves one family.  To this day, the Kay side of our family continues to have an impressive turnout at the Yarger Family reunion, as was the case the year the tournament was founded) I had just started golfing as well, and George and I suggested we should golf the next year before the reunion.  As the beer flowed, we expanded the idea to include more people, then to have a tournament, and then to have a charity tournament.  George had just been through the Cardiac Rehab Department at Thompson Health and he thought a donation there could do a lot of good.  I readily agreed as I had lost many Aunts and Uncles to cardiac disease, and my father had passed at 58 due to it too.  Thus the Yarger Memorial Scramble benefiting the Cardiac Rehab Center at Thompson Health in Cdga, was born.

     The following spring we formed a family committee and approached the hospital with our idea.  They were excited to have a tournament benefit them and pledged all of their support.  The original tournament was held at Parkview Fairways and the date was the second Saturday in August, the day before our family reunion. 

Year 1, dinner under the pavilion
We had 50 golfers participate the first year, and although it didn't run entirely smoothly, we all had fun and we were able to make $5,000 for the C.R.D.  We ate big steaks and roasted corn that we had cooked, and the raffles ran so late that we need flashlights to read the numbers at the end.  It's amazing that we get so many of those original golfers back each year, and yet we do.  That evening, some of us had to go from the tournament, to Ontario County Park to cook the pig for the following day's reunion.  We were exhausted by the end of the 2nd day, so we decided to move the date away from the reunion after that. A smart idea.

     This blog could run too long if I don't start talking about the specifics of the tournament, so let me break it down, starting with the sponsors and golfers. Our major underwriter to the tournament has been Pactiv in Cdga since year 3.  They approached us, looking for a way to support the hospital, and an event that their employees could participate in. Each year we have 6-10 teams made up of current and former Pactiv employees. They had been a great partner, and we hope, even with the changes there this year, that they will be able to continue as our major sponsor. 
Pactiv Group, early on
Our tournament has been a blue collar or hacker's tournament since it's inception.  Some of our players get out just a few times a year to golf, and we are happy that they choose our tournament to do it. That being said we do attract a few good golfers and more professional folk. I suspect that they come for the fun.  The majority of the rest of our sponsors are all small businesses in the surrounding area, that pay $100 to post a sign on the course that day.  About 30-40 % of our sponsors have teams that play in the tournament each year.  The remaining sponsors are special sponsors that pay for the banquet and music.  Just a few years ago, we added a Meyer and McGuire concert at the banquet as part of the tournament, and that was one of the best decisions that we have ever made.  For the last several years, Crosman Corporation and HEP Sales/North Main Lumber have sponsored these and their investment is appreciated by the golfers, and the family. 

     When the golfers check in, they run a gauntlet of sorts, to make it through registration.  We first give them their tee gift and assign them carts.  Each year we logo an item and each golfer receives one.  We have done shirts, hats, umbrellas, coolers, camp stools, blankets, water bottles, and even pullover jackets.
Registration year 2 or 3?
If you want to see what we have given out for the last 13 years, you need only to attend, to see the players, wearing the shirts and jackets, tucking umbrellas in their bags (unused, we have never been rained out in the history of the tournament), donning the hats on their heads, and placing the coolers on their carts. 
     The next stop is where we sell Mulligans.  Each golfer can purchase 2 for $5 each and take a do-over when needed.  Even with the hackers we attract, and in a tournament that doesn't have a Skins competition, most golfers buy 2.  This contributes about $1,000 to the total each year.
     The last stop is the merchandise raffle.  We aim to collect $20 from each golfer for this station.  It may seem like a lot, but in actuality it is a bargain for the golfers. My family spends many months approaching local businesses and collecting merchandise donations.  We are so grateful for the hundreds of donors that choose to contribute to this raffle each year. 
Our first wenches
We raffle over $5,000 worth of merchandise each time, so on average, a $20 donation nets you a $35 prize. That's not to say everyone is a winner though, I have a friend who golfs each year and swears he had never won, and I have a nephew who golfed and brought home big ticket gifts in consecutive years.  The merchandise raffle nets around $2,500 each year, the second biggest fundraiser of the tournament.

      Now for the math majors out there, you've noticed that we are short about $1,500 for our $10,000 goal.  The last part of the tournament is a Cash Raffle. The tickets are distributed amongst family members months before the tournament and pre-sold to friends and acquaintances for $5 each.  We finish the selling on the day of the tournament to the golfers and draw the winners at the end of the tournament.  This generally makes up the last $1,500 of our $10,000 goal each year.  In it's 13 year history the tournament has been able to donate over $120,000 to the CRD at Thompson Health, no small feat, but all due to the amazing loyalty of our golfers, donors, sponsors and workers.

     I have to brag up on our workers a little. Since early on, the tournament has run pretty self sufficient from the hospital.  They help with the initial mailings and some PR, but the tournament itself is staffed fully by family and friends.  I'm proud that all of my family contributes in some way to the tournament, so I've taken care not to single out any individuals, in this blog.  My siblings staff the registration tables, write the program, sell cash raffle tickets, golf, serve on the committee, collect merchandise, attract sponsors, babysit the day of the event for family members, take pictures of the teams each year, and even served as Beer Wenches. Non family members contribute too, we have a family friend who custom designs and carves the trophies each year, and that is one more unique thing about the tournament.

Wenches, maybe year 7 or 8?
 I'm proud that each and every one of them chooses to contribute each year.  My nieces, nephews and cousins have continued to step up as well, selling tickets, golfing or attending the dinner.  Our tournament gets a lot of praise for it's organization and for how much fun it is.  These are both attributable to the volunteers that give so much of their time.  On the subject of beer wenches, (one of my favorite subjects), I think they add a dimension to the tournament that is unlike any other.  We have 8 volunteers, in teams of 2, run each side of the course back to front, and then front to back.  Their job is not only to help deliver the beverages, but to hand out free cigars and to interact playfully with the golf teams (If you don't take the golf too seriously, you can do this.) Each team makes this job their own, and it all the years we have run, I don't recall a bad team.  There are 2 stories, that I love to tell about our beer wenches, the first is one of our girls met her future husband the night of the tournament, and the second is, we had a girl accidentally break her hand one year at the tournament, and even though it cost her weeks of actual work, she was the first to volunteer again the next year.  I told you we have the best volunteers.  We actually don't have enough spots for the volunteers we get each year. It sounds like a good position to be in, but I have trouble saying no to people that want to be a part of the tournament so badly.

     A blog about the tournament wouldn't be complete without a mention of our new permanent location, Victor Hills Golf course.  While the first course had it's charm, the folks are Victor Hills have been great partners for this fundraiser since year 2.
Crowd at Victor Hills
 The date has changed a few times in the past, but now is always the 2nd Saturday in June.  Victor Hills makes sure the course is in shape, the food is hot and plentiful, and that everything they are responsible for runs smoothly, and they fire on all cylinders each year.  We get a lot of compliments on the hard work they do, and I'd like to acknowledge Jay Dianetti, his family, and his staff for all of their efforts.  The tournament wouldn't be nearly as successful without them. 

Grumpy and I with the staff at the CRD.
      As I close out this blog, it is only fitting that I finish by talking about our charity, the Cardiac Rehab Department at Thompson Health.  From the very first year, they have been good stewards of the funds we provide to them.
 They have expanded their space 2 times, purchased exercise and monitoring equipment for the center, given training to their staff and most importantly, given scholarships to use the facility to those who could not have afforded to attend their programs otherwise.  The work they do is incredible and if you live or work in Canandaigua NY, you likely have contact with someone that they have helped.  I know, I certainly have.  Well after we started the tournament I found out that my Uncle Charlie was the longest surviving patient that they had of the original people to go through the program, "The Magnificent Seven".  I cannot think of a more deserving charity for our family's tournament.

     So if you see this blog and have an interest in participating in any of the aspects of the Yarger Memorial, please feel free to contact us.  We can be reached at PO Box 23 Hall NY 14463 or e-mailed at wyarger@rochester.rr.com  We are continually looking for sponsors, donors, raffle ticket buyers, and golfers.  I personally keep my eyes open for good beer wenches in my travels, although I am not longer allowed to interview them.  When we started the tournament we had 3 goals.  They were, to have fun, to make some money for the CRD, and to honor the memory of our relatives that had passed due to heart disease.  I think in the 14 year run, we have kept our promise on  all 3. Fore.

Uncle George "Buddy" Kay

My Dad, Paul Cooper Yarger

Aunt Eleanor Kay Marvin
Uncle Charlie Yarger


Anonymous said...

This was a great one, Dad!! Even though I'll be in Buffalo this summer, I'll definitely be back in town for the tournament. I wouldn't miss it for the world! =]

Anonymous said...

Bill, this one is my most favorite of all your blogs. We look forward to the tournament every year! Love the pictures at the end. I miss them all very much and it touches my heart to see those pix!

Anonymous said...

Oops!! You forgot your immediate family, your wife and kids, who have stepped up for the past several years to sort and stuff the golfer's good bags and in whatever capacity needed! We all enjoy doing it! If all volunteer work was this much fun, there would never be a shortage of volunteers! You also forgot to give kudos to yourself. Without your tireless effort each year, this tournament WOULD NOT HAPPEN!

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