Golfers tee up to benefit veterans and community

More than 100 golfers came to San Juan Oaks to benefit veterans and local charities

More than 100 golfers took part in the fourth annual Veterans of Foreign Wars Golf Tournament at the signature design San Juan Oaks Golf Club on Friday, June 17 in support of VFW Post 9242’s scholarship, veteran and youth programs.

It was the perfect day, sunny, cool and no wind, as 25 teams skittered off in rapid fire throughout the course for a day of comradeship, good times, and the possibility of winning one of several prizes, including a new Chevrolet Pickup.

Bernie Ramirez, commander of VFW Post 9242, has spearheaded the golf tournament for the past four years. He said it’s no easy task putting together an event that will attract people to not only participate in a round of golf, but sponsor prizes.

“This takes a whole lot of work,” Ramirez said. “We start meeting every other week the first of March, and the last month we meet every week, and the last week every day.”

The golf committee is comprised of veterans and their wives, Dick and Frankie Gallagher, Elaine and Ray Lopez, Ray and Linda Morsey, Bernie and his wife, Palmira, as well as Dave Lopez, George Nava, and Mel Angel.

Ramirez said the first priority is to get the word out as early as possible with flyers and news stories.

“First, we’re letting people know we’re going to have the tournament again, and then we need to secure tee sponsors,” he said. “Last year, we had 40 tee sponsors. Every tee sponsor pays $100 to have their sign placed near a tee. This year, we have 75 tee sponsors. That’s $7,500 right there, which is huge. We had 20 extra people, besides the 25 teams of golfers, pay to come to the dinner last year. We have 60 this year.”

The VFW 9242 does not make any money from the golf tournament or the dinner, Ramirez said.

“We make money from the tee sponsors, raffles and the silent auction,” he said. “We make most of our money through the tee sponsors. Every bit of the money we make goes to high school scholarships, any school that needs financial assistance, and veterans who need help. Each scholarship of financial assistance request is voted on by post members.”

Throughout the year, requests will come to the post for financial assistance.

“We’re working right now with the foster kids at Chamberlain's (Children's Center),” Ramirez said. “We’re going to rebuild their deck. That’s going to cost the post $2,300, but our post members are going to do the work. That’s the great part of being the commander. That’s why I do it. I know the money goes to helping somebody.”

This year's tournament was dedicated to Lyle Perez, a post member who passed away recently. The day began with a rendition of the National Anthem sung by Tenille Ramirez, and presentation of the colors by members of the post, George Nava and John Madaras.

As Ramirez finished greeting the golfers, they hopped aboard their carts and dashed off through the course around water hazards, sand traps and shy wildlife, such as deer and turkeys, competing in the putting contest and the longest drive. At the sixth hole, the prize was a new Chevrolet truck, donated by Greenwood Chevrolet, for the first person to accomplish a hole-in-one. Unfortunately, no one took the gleaming white truck home that day.

It was a pretty tame contest with little in the way of what might be called thrills, except for an accident on the sixth hole, when a very young golfer whose dad was letting him drive the electric golf cart, accelerated in reverse and ended up going over a steep embankment down into what in wetter times might be called wetlands. Other than a little embarrassment, and the loss of further driving privileges, there was no harm. Three other golfers teamed up to push the wayward cart through the weeds, where the game continued. The unnamed lad was unharmed, but more than a bit embarrassed when he came across his grandmother, who was judging the hole-in-one attempts, and asked what happened.

"I don't want to talk about it, grandma," was his only response.

That night golfers and families came back for cocktails and dinner, the silent auction, raffles and team awards.

“There are no handicaps, mainly because this is a fun tournament,” Ramirez said of the day's play tournament. “People realize this is a benefit to raise money for the VFW. I don’t care if you’re a golfer or not. In fact, I have three friends here who have never golfed. We just get out there and enjoy the day and the camaraderie, while raising money for the community.”

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]