Good golfers playing for a cause

Published 11:27 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Bank of Hampton Roads Pro-Am is a two-decade long tradition at Suffolk Golf Course. When Eddie Luke and Steve Geller took over operations at the course a couple years ago, they were quickly asked by many members, what would become of the annual Pro-Am tournament?

Luke, the PGA professional at Suffolk, and Geller, the general manager of the course, decided the make the tournament bigger and better.

With about 35 pros scheduled to play in Friday’s tournament, the tournament is bigger in terms of number of teams and the quality of the field. Expected to play in the pro field is Cameron Yancey, who played in the U.S. Open this past June, Chip Sullivan, a PGA Nationwide Tour regular, and defending champion Chewy Lynch. Lynch won last year with a six-under par 66.

The purse for the pros is bigger too. First place on Friday will win $2,000.

“We really have got a lot of big-name players to come this year,” said Luke.

More importantly though, Suffolk Golf Course’s Pro-Am is better than ever because many of the proceeds are going to charity, namely The Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads and the Special Olympics .

Luke has a son who has Down Syndrome. “(The Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads) is really our major group we’re giving money to and that’s because the money stays right here in Hampton Roads,” said Luke.

A tournament combining a very good cause with a good purse is bringing pros from around Virginia as well as Maryland, Delaware, Washington D.C. and North Carolina said Luke.

Pro football Hall of Famer, Virginia Tech star and Norfolk native Bruce Smith has signed jerseys for the event that will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to charity. Smith is scheduled to play in one of the foursomes.

“There will be a lot of good fellowship. We’ll have lunch and dinner here,” said Luke. Luke said he might play, and would like to play, but he probably won’t since, “it’ll be an exceptionally busy, hectic day.” Getting the course ready is not a concern though.

“The golf course is in terrific shape. It really looks great right now,” said Luke.

Each professional is in a foursome with three amateurs. Some of the amateurs will be members of Suffolk Golf Course. Amateurs will also be traveling in for the event just like the pros said Luke.

There’s a stroke-play portion for the pros, and the pros’ purse, and there’s a team category for the foursomes. The tournament starts at 12 p.m. on Friday.