PLANTATION — Early morning heavy rain couldn’t dampen the spirit of more than 100 golfers who turned out for the second annual Chairman of the Greens Charity Golf Tournament.
The wet stuff forced a delay to the shotgun start at Lago Mar Country Club in Plantation, but as soon as the sky cooperated, the tournament, which featured about 35 foursomes, got underway.
Organized by Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr.’s office and Hard Rock, the tournament supports local charities.
This year’s beneficiaries are JDRF (formerly Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and the Dan Marino Foundation, which provides support for people with autism and other developmental disabilities.
“This is about fellowship,” Chairman Osceola said to the golfers during the tournament’s lunch. “It’s about coming together, but we’re in a position to help others and that’s what this is all about. We’re raising money for two great foundations here.”
Although Dan Marino, the legendary former Miami Dolphins quarterback, was unable to attend the tournament, the field featured other prominent names. One foursome included former Dolphin stars Mark Duper, Terry Kirby, Nat Moore and Jason Taylor.
Two of the most prominent Native American professional golfers – Notah Begay III and Gabby Lemieux – played in a group with Chairman Osceola. Begay, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, is a commentator for the Golf Channel and NBC. He’s 47 and long removed from the pinnacle of his tour career two decades ago.
Lemieux, however, is in the infancy of her pro career. She played in an LPGA event last year on a sponsor’s exemption. She didn’t earn her playing card for the LPGA this year, but she’s ready to tackle her first full season on the Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s minor league.
Lemieux, from the ShoPointe-Paiute Tribe, said being a Native American pro golfer, of which there are few, is an honor. She said support from Indian Country is something she doesn’t take for granted.
“There’s a bunch of people out there I really don’t get a chance to talk to or meet personally, but they contact me through social media and say ‘hey, I love what you’re doing,’ or ‘it’s really nice to see you out there inspiring kids.” That part of it is awesome,” she said. “Indian Country has my back, and that’s really cool.”
Lemieux’s coach is her dad, Dwight Barker. Dreaming about playing pro golf was always just that – a dream – for Lemieux, but a solid career at Texas Tech University has turned into an aspiring career in the pro ranks.
Her advice for young Native Americans: “Dream big. No dream is too big. You’ve just got to keep fighting for what you want and go for it,” she said.
Ryan Ramirez is a fighter. The youth ambassador for JDRF told the audience at the tournament’s lunch how living with type 1 diabetes has impacted his life, including playing sports.
He said he was a starting quarterback on his football team, but often had to go to the sidelines because of low blood sugar.
Ramirez thanked Chairman Osceola, the Chairman’s office and the golfers for their support.
“These are the lives that we’re changing today,” Chairman Osceola told the golfers. “With your support for this tournament, this is one of the young individuals that we will keep changing their lives for the better.”
Chairman Osceola served as the auctioneer for a variety of goods that the golfers bid on, including Hard Rock guitars signed by Marino and Jennifer Lopez.
The winning foursome came from Six Nations in Ontario and consisted of Jesse Smith, who played in the 2013 U.S. Open, Steve Tooshkenig, Kenny Hill and Earl Hill.