Dan Callaghan was playing a golf tournament in 2000 when he first encountered Golfers Against Cancer. It’s a charity organization that raises money for cancer research.
And cancer is something Callaghan is familiar with.
His father-in-law and father had lung cancer. His mother and sister-in-law also had cancer. His youngest daughter, Janey, beat breast cancer and another of his four daughters, Patty, has battled pancreatic cancer for the last four years.
“Before that she had the breast cancer, but she’s kind of a miracle at this point,” Callaghan said. “Because the prognosis of pancreatic cancer is like eight percent survival, so she’s beating odds at this point.”
A few years after discovering the Golfers Against Cancer organization, Callaghan contacted them to inquire about hosting his own golf tournament. Now in its 11th year, the Callaghan Tire Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at two courses. Twenty-six pros team with 104 amateurs at Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club on Monday and The Concession Golf Club on Tuesday.
“You can’t name anybody who isn’t touched by it by their family or friends or something,” said Callaghan about cancer.
One-hundred percent of the $1,900 — or $7,600 for a foursome — entry fee goes to Golfers Against Cancer, which then cuts a check to different cancer research facilities. For example, Callaghan said last year’s proceeds were split between the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and the Dattoli Cancer Center in Sarasota. So far the charity tournament has raised more than $800,000 for cancer research, and Callaghan said this year’s tournament should bring in more than $120,000.
“As a lover of golf, it seemed like a good way to give back,” Callaghan said.
Some of the pros playing are former PGA Tour stars such as Dow Finsterwald, Tony Jacklin and Bobby Nichols. Alan Doyle, Jim Dent, Jim Thorpe, Larry Ziegler, Tom Shaw and Larry Laoretti are also scheduled to play.
Even in the beginning, it wasn’t too difficult for Callaghan to secure pros for his new charity golf tournament. That was because of his friendship with Jacklin, who won the British Open and U.S. Open during his playing career and is a co-designer of The Concession with Jack Nicklaus.
“Through him, I got to know and meet many of these guys at tournaments and functions,” Callaghan said. “... Over the years, we created good friendships and they come back every year.”
The format is two best balls of five. Amateurs are categorized as ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C’ or ‘D’ players based off their handicap. Dividing the players by category ensures teams aren’t loaded with low handicappers, and players can’t play strictly with their buddies. Teams are decided in Sunday’s pairings party.
When Tuesday’s final round concludes and the awards banquet wraps up, this year’s Callaghan Tire Charity Pro-Am winners will be known. But the golfing isn’t quite over for 2016. A Captain’s Challenge event shifts to Bradenton Country Club for Thursday and Friday, pitting 12 British golfers against 12 U.S. golfers in a Ryder Cup-styled event. Jacklin is captaining the British side, while Laoretti captains the Americans.
“The last two years, it’s been tied,” Callaghan said.