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East County Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2022 6 months ago

Prose and Kohn: Local golf pros put money on their skills for a good cause

The 2022 Birdie-A-Thon raised approximately $70,000 for local charities
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Editor

There was no messing around on the No. 16 hole at Sarasota's TPC Prestancia.

A foursome consisting of Jeff Boudrie, Wendi Patterson, KC Bartlett and Kevin Paschall — representing Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch — was deep into its efforts to raise money during Birdie-A-Thon, a charity scramble event played by golf professionals in the Southwest Chapter of the PGA's North Florida section on March 7.

Boudrie, a Lakewood Ranch resident, is the president of the Southwest Chapter. For each birdie made by a foursome during the event, each member of the foursome would donate 'X' dollars (an amount chosen individually) to the event's six chosen charities, which include The First Tee of Sarasota-Manatee and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast. 

Boudrie had placed the foursome near the edge of the green on the No. 16 hole, a par 5, in two shots. A birdie was looking likely, but if someone in the group managed to sink the next shot, it would be an eagle — and by event rules, pledges are doubled on eagles. 

"It's a great format because you feel the pressure out there," Boudrie said. "That makes it fun. You don't want to cost charities any money they can get."

On this particular hole, someone did step up. Patterson chipped in for eagle.  Two holes later on No. 18, a par 4, the foursome did it again. Boudrie got aggressive with a drive that landed near the green and Patterson chipped in for eagle. Similar situations occurred earlier in the round.

Several times, Boudrie said the foursome came down to Paschall, the North Florida PGA President, sinking a putt for birdie. Boudrie said Paschall would give the other three players an "Ah, jeez" look each time because of the pressure on his shoulders. It was all in good fun, of course, and Boudrie said Paschall made the key putts each time. In the end, the Legacy group had the top score on the day, shooting 19 under par despite what Boudrie termed a slow start. 

Boudrie said the eagles and Paschall's putts were some of the countless gratifying moments from the event, as was totaling up the money earned for charity afterward. It came out to just under $70,000 and has risen even higher in the following days. 

"I have never been so proud to be in a room filled with PGA pros," Boudrie said. "They stepped up to the plate. The last two years have been hard on everyone, but especially charities. People in the community look to us PGA professionals as leaders and for everyone to give back in this way made me happy. We're using our leadership status to pay it forward."

Boudrie helped spearhead this year's event, but Birdie-A-Thon itself began in 2003 when local golf professional Paul Barone decided to try the idea with one foursome. The event has taken different shapes since then, often growing year-over-year but sometimes, like when the 2008 recession hit, being stifled financially or canceled entirely. This year, Boudrie and the rest of the event organizers decided to have all the clubs play on the same day, at the same course. Boudrie said TPC Prestancia gave them the course for the afternoon for free, which cut down on costs and allowed more money to go to the charities. These changes made it the event's biggest year yet. 

They're not done, either. Boudrie said the event will return in 2023. The experience of planning the 2022 event, Boudrie said, will make next year's event even better. Boudrie said he wants to get more local clubs involved, for starters. Only 12 clubs participated this year. If the event can get 20 clubs to participate next year, or even double the size at 24 clubs, they can come close to doubling the money raised.

In that spirit, Boudrie also wants to give people more notice of the event and write sample emails for each club president so they can ask for donations with minimal effort. In short, Boudrie wants to make the process as easy and streamlined as possible so the pros involved only have to worry about showing up and playing golf. 

The 2022 Birdie-A-Thon is over, but people can still make one-time donations to the event's charities by visiting the North Florida PGA's website and selecting a club they would like to represent as well as a donation amount. Donations of all sizes are welcome, Boudrie said, as every dollar helps. 

The PGA Chapter will also be holding a different fundraiser this summer. The Tim Beckwith Memorial Pro-Am, to be held July 8 at TPC Prestancia, will raise money for the Tim Beckwith Scholarship Fund, which gives financial support to a local golfer. The scholarship, named after former area golf pro Tim Beckwith who died in 2021 at age 51, is awarded based on not just golf skill but also school grades and involvement in the community among other factors. 

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I’m the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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