More than 250 golfers competed in the 20th anniversary Hope Enterprises golf tournament Friday at White Deer, making it the single largest tournament in the event's history.
It's an annual fundraiser for Hope Enterprises, a non-profit organization that provides a wide variety of services to children and adults with disabilities in seven counties across the state. The charity relies on the annual golf tournament as one of their primary fundraisers, and it has helped to raise upwards of $250,000 throughout the years.
But perhaps the biggest reason this year's event drew a record crowd was the grand prize for foursomes choosing the Challenge Course - an invitation to compete in the Liberty Mutual National Finals at Pinehurst, N.C., next March. Pinehurst's No. 2 course will also host the men's and women's U.S. Open next summer.
From left, the winning team of Dom Annulli, Kevin Hastings, Ed Pawlak, and Peter Abrazinsky (not shown) won the Challenge Course portion of the Hope Enterprises golf tournament Friday at White Deer to earn a spot in a national event next March at Pinehurst.
The winning team on the Challenge course in this year's tournament was composed of Kevin Hastings, Peter Abrazinsky, Ed Pawlak, and Dom Annulli. Though all four members were excited to have earned the chance to play at Pinehurst, they said the real prize is being able to help a local charity while, at the same time, playing a game they love.
"We like supporting Hope Enterprises, playing at Pinehurst was just a bonus for us," said a member of that winning team, Kevin Hastings.
Hastings also said the group planned to take its spot at Pinehurst next year.
"Oh yeah, as long as we're alive," said Hastings.
This marked the third straight year Liberty Mutual sponsored the event.
"This is the 20th anniversary and through the help and assistance of Liberty Mutual we have been able to grow the tournament this year by 30 percent," said Jim Campbell, President of Hope Enterprises.
"It's a wonderful opportunity given to us, so hopefully we do everything the right way so people will want to come back and continue to play in our tournament," said Campbell.
Jim Dinsmore, a Liberty Mutual representative coordinating the local event, said there were 18 teams competing to go to Pinehurst.
There were a lot of golfers excited about that, especially now that next year the men's and women's US Open will be played there. To be able to go down in March and play prior to the US Open is pretty exciting," said Dinsmore.
The opportunity for the winning foursome to play at Pinehurst was made possible because this year, for the first time, the tournament has become a part of the Liberty Mutual Invitational, which is a nationwide series of amateur charity events.
"This year Jim Campbell and Jim Dinsmore got in touch with me to see if they could join the nationwide program as a way to celebrate their 20th anniversary," said Skip Jenkins, National Tournament Director for Liberty Mutual.
"So we got involved, and it's packed to the gills. Fundraising is definitely going to take a jump up," said Jenkins.
The honorary chairman chosen for this years tournament was the ever-smiling and jovial Pedie McDonald, an employee at Hope Enterprises for the last 30 years.
"This is a good tournament, great turnout," said McDonald.
McDonald's presence at the event was radiant, and when the winners were announced he was more excited for the winning team than they were themselves.