When someone mentions her hometown of Brandon, a broad smile hints at treasured memories in the mind of LPGA rising star Beth Bauer.
So when her former Bloomingdale High School golf coach Norman Guess called to ask Bauer to put her name on a celebrity tournament to raise funds for Brandon area charities, she was immediately interested.
"I owe a lot to Brandon and it is an opportunity to give something back," she said. "It is exciting to see so many people working hard to make this event happen and so many celebrities volunteering to participate."
Organizers plan to make the two-day event, called the Greater Brandon Charity Golf Classic, an annual event.
A Tournament of Champions starts at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Riverhills Golf and Country Club. The Tournament of Champions consists of first- and second-place winners of other Brandon area charity golf tournaments in 2003. The 88 players contributed $125 each to compete.
On Feb. 9, the Beth Bauer Celebrity Pro-Am is scheduled for an 11:15 a.m. shotgun start at Riverhills. A total of 30 foursomes of pros and amateurs paid $500 apiece to compete.
The event is the brainchild of longtime Brandon community activist Ann Nymark. She is the president and founder of the Greater Brandon Community Foundation, which initiated the event. The St. Petersburg Times, which publishes Brandon Times, is the title sponsor of the event.
"Our vision is to provide a link between those with resources and those who need help, to mobilize individuals to become active in the building of a better community and to be a permanent resource for the needs of our future," Nymark said. "Brandon has never had an event like this tournament. It is all about raising money for local charities."
Having Bauer associated with the fundraiser is an added plus, Nymark said. "Bauer is a testament to the type of young people who come out of our community."
Bauer won the individual state high school golf championship and was selected as an All-American in each of her three years at Bloomingdale High. She was selected for college All-American status in her two years playing for Duke University, before joining the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
The Pro-Am lineup includes a who's who of sports celebrities: Tampa Bay Lightning hockey player Brian Bradley; Shelton Quarles, Anthony "Booger" McFarland and Shaun King of the Tampa Bay Bucs; current and retired pro baseball players Jody Reed, Wade Boggs, Joe Niekro and Garry Hancock; plus LPGA players Candy Hannemann, Sally Dee, Leslie Spalding and Heather Daly-Donofrio.
Nymark said the money raised by the tournament will be divided among the local organizations, including Brandon Care Pregnancy Center, Emergency Care Help Organization, Center Place, Brandon Outreach Clinic, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club and other organizations.
A portion of the proceeds will be used to create the John Bauer Memorial Fund in honor of Beth's father, who died when she was 14. The money will be used to buy golf equipment at the six Brandon area high schools.
Bauer will enhance the event with a personal touch.
"I will greet all 30 teams on the day of the tournament at the first hole," she said. "Anyone, other than the celebrities, can make a $50 contribution and challenge me to a longest-drive contest."
The community has responded, donating thousands of dollars and a variety of goods and services.
To learn more
For information about the Greater Brandon Charity Golf Classic or the Greater Brandon Community Foundation, call Ann Nymark at 689-9297.