Lakewood Ranch Herald

LWR charity golf event still a go

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Although the recession has derailed some high-end charitable events related to the upcoming Super Bowl, the Jim McMahon celebrity golf tournament — with foursomes costing $10,000 each — is still a go.

The event, slated for Jan. 29-30 at Lakewood Ranch and organized by McMahon, a former Chicago Bears Super Bowl-winning quarterback, has attracted about 50 celebrities so far, said Dani Morgan, a spokeswoman for the tournament.

“Believe it or not, they still are confirming, a good healthy number,” said Morgan.

Among those who have confirmed are boxer Floyd Mayweather; former football great Lawrence Taylor; former major league pitcher Shane Rawley; Goose Gossage, a baseball Hall of Famer; former basketball superstar Julius Erving; and Willie Gault, former NFL wide receiver and Olympic athlete, according to organizers of the event.

Also confirmed are former National Football League players Marcus Allen, O.J. Anderson and Joe Theismann; former Major League Baseball players Darryl Strawberry and Frank Viola; and musicians Brian McKnight and Steve Azar.

The event costs $10,000 per foursome, $2,750 per individual, with a few foursomes and some party tickets on Jan. 29 that cost $250 per person still available, Morgan said.

The golf matches will take place at the Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club.

Each celebrity will be paired with a foursome on either Lakewood Ranch’s Cypress Links or King’s Dunes courses.

Organizers hope to raise more than $100,000 benefitting three charities, but found the sour economy has posed a real challenge.

“It’s been very hard-going here,” said Morgan. “It’s been very difficult.”

The Warrick Dunn Foundation, named for Tampa Bay Buccaneer Warrick Dunn, cancelled its plans for a similar celebrity golf tournament recently because it had only reached half of its $200,000 goal by a certain date, said Natalie Boe, executive director.

The glow of national publicity surrounding the Feb. 1 Super Bowl to be played at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium is among the advantages the tournament delivers to the area, said John Costello, general manager for the country club.

“It’s a nice, positive PR event to do for all of Lakewood Ranch, not just the country club,” said Costello. “To have these folks here, it creates a nice PR for us and obviously helps a great cause.”

The Golf Channel invited McMahon to be its official Super Bowl NFL host, said Morgan, adding, “It’s a good thing for sponsors. There will be a lot of exposure because every single day, Jim will be on the TV on the Golf Channel.”

Among the tournament’s sponsors are such heavyweights as Anheuser-Busch, AirTran, Gallo Wines and Holiday Inn, she noted.

The event benefits the Wounded Warrior Battalion, the Lynda McMahon Ferguson Memorial Foundation for Literacy, and the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund.

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Sara Kennedy, Bradenton Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 708-7908 or at