Golf professionals deal with charity events all the time at their respective clubs.
They often help with the administrative duties, take care of the scoring, place bags on and off the motorized carts, make rulings and coordinate the festivities.
But it’s not often that a club pro puts together a charity tournament that involves his own family and several others who face the same challenges.
McGregor Links Country Club head professional Tom Oppedisano is breaking new ground with his A.B.L.E. golf fundraiser, set for May 12.
A.B.L.E. stands for Alternatives for Better Learning Environments. It’s a not-for-profit agency awaiting state approval for 501(c)3 status.
Oppedisano and his wife, Time Warner Cable News meteorologist Heather Morrison Oppedisano, started the foundation because their two children, in the third and fifth grade, are autistic. Like many kids in the same situation, the Oppedisano children had a difficult time in public school, especially with the recent Common Core standards and metrics now in place for measuring the performances of both teachers and students.
So the Oppedisanos put their children in the Saratoga Academy for Arts and Sciences, a private elementary school.
“Although Saratoga Academy is reasonably priced, it is still an expense that families do not always plan for,” said Oppedisano, who is in his fifth year at McGregor Links CC after five years as the head pro at Orchard Creek and another year working for Golf Galaxy.
“It has introduced some financial stress to our home, but we noticed that many families faced this issue. Even more troubling is how many families do not send their children to a better learning environment due to its cost.”
Oppedisano and his wife want to help raise money for their foundation, and they are finding plenty of people want to lend a hand, as well.
“We’re very fortunate. As soon as we got to into a private school setting, it opened up a whole new world for both us and our children,” he said. “Our kids are progressing incredibly well. Of course, the challenge will never end, but we don’t know anything different.
“What has been so neat is that there are so many angles to this story. We have the golf angle, we have the fact that my wife, Heather, is on TV, and we have the fact that so many people are faced with the same challenge for their autistic children,” Oppedisano said.
“We’re off to a pretty good start, and we are getting plenty of support. But our new motto is that when you reach out and try to help someone else, great things often come out of difficult situations.”
Oppedisano said that the cost for a foursome in his tournament is $400, and it includes golf, lunch, dinner and prizes.
“We have a ton of raffle prizes that were donated. The business owners have really stepped up,” he said.
“I’m pleasantly surprised by how many good people there really are out there. They all want to know what they can do to help. Even a lot of my golf pro friends have signed up to play, and they don’t usually play in these kinds of fundraisers.”
If you are interested in playing in this event, contact McGregor Links at 585-6664.
PGA Tour standout Ernie Els also has a child with autism and has his own foundation. There are many others around the country, but the families involved need as much help as possible. They usually struggle in silence.
Once again, the sport of golf has shown to be one of the easiest ways to raise money because people don’t mind helping a great cause, especially if they’re having a lot of fun doing it. And by the way, April is Autism Awareness month.
Kit Mangano, the winner of both the 1982 and 1984 Gazette Senior County Amateur, was incorrectly listed as Kit Mangino in the Gazette’s annual Golf Guide last week.
We also had the wrong prices listed for Orchard Creek in the Golf Guide. The prices ($40 for 18 holes on the weekend and $36 during the week) were correct, but they included a cart, which is not the case. The cost of cart is extra.
The Whispering Pines Golf School begins April 29. Cost is $99 for four one-hour sessions with PGA professional and co-owner Kirk Armstrong. Balls and equipment for the lessons are included. Call 355-2724 for more in formation.
The East Greenbush Police Benevolent Association will hold its 10th annual golf scramble at Burden Lake Country Club on May 30 at 10 a.m. Entry fee for both golf and dinner is $95. Contact Pete Lavin or Tim Boel at 479-2525 for reservations. The field will be limited to 120 golfers.
Saratoga Lake Golf Club come up with a new event called the Big-Hole Best-Ball tournament, set for May 3 at 10 a.m. All holes will be eight inches in diameter, instead of the regulation 4.25 inches. The format will be four-player teams with a best-ball format. Entry fee is $70 per player or $270 per team. Cost includes lunch, dinner and prizes. Call 581-6616 for more information.
Both Colonie Golf & Country Club head pro Frank Mellet (79-69-75-70 — 273, tied 41st) and former Cobleskill Golf & Country Club Dal Daily
(77-70-78-77 —302, 82nd), a four-time NENYPGA Stroke Play champion, made the initial cut in the Senior PGA Professional Championship this week at Port St. Lucie, Fla. Ninety players overall made the first cut. The event was originally scheduled for last October, but was postponed because of severe weather.