Golf

First Tee reaps benefits from role at U.S. Senior Open

Sign bearer and volunteer Joe Fowler, right, gets a signed golf ball from Bernhard Langer during the 2015 U.S. Senior Open at Del Paso Country Club on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 in Sacramento.
Sign bearer and volunteer Joe Fowler, right, gets a signed golf ball from Bernhard Langer during the 2015 U.S. Senior Open at Del Paso Country Club on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 in Sacramento. rpench@sacbee.com

What to get the golfers in your life as Christmas approaches? It’s always a tricky question.

Balls, clubs, a sweater?

Cash is always good, and lots of cash is even better.

In that spirit, Del Paso Country Club made it a happy holiday for The First Tee of Greater Sacramento and the 18,000 youth golfers the organization serves annually with the presentation of a $100,000 check.

Dan Spector, general chairman of the 2015 U.S. Senior Open that was hosted by Del Paso in June, announced the donation Monday as a result of the championship and the local First Tee chapter’s efforts during the first major golf championship in Sacramento in more than 30 years.

“A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us” in financial benefit and championship access, said TFTGS chairman Bruce Stimson.

Before the Senior Open, Spector announced The First Tee as a single-partner beneficiary. Having just one beneficiary is a departure from past United States Golf Association championships, but Spector said he wanted to highlight that Sacramento is where The First Tee started. Les Streeper, a former Del Paso head pro, helped start the youth development organization, initially called SAY Golf, more than 30 years ago.

“I wanted to use the championship to tell that story,” Spector said.

Stimson said the donation will be used partly to provide “golferships” and help fund the organization’s expansion into area schools with its National Schools Program.

More than 500 adult volunteers on behalf of TFTGS combined to work thousands of hours during the Senior Open, handling concession and program sales, with proceeds going to TFTGS.

More than 100 local First Tee chapter members were standard bearers during the championship, and two lucky ones walked the final 18 holes with Senior Open winner Jeff Maggert. Spector said he expects future civic leaders to have gained from experiencing what a group of private citizens working with public agencies can bring to Sacramento.

“That’s as important a benefit as the cash,” he said.

Steve Pajak: 916-326-5526, @Steve_Pajak

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