Rain fails to dampen charity golf day spirit
By TONY WHITE
"MATE, definitely book me in for next year. What a fantastic day."
Visiting Ballina golfer Brad Myers comments were typical of the 132 players who participated in Sunday's inaugural Sam Dougherty Memorial Charity Golf Day at Grafton District Golf Club.
Myers was accompanied by close mate Justin Saxby of Ballina, the younger brother of former multiple world walking record holder Kerry Saxby-Junna, and Gold Coast-based friend, Bill Payne.
Not even a severe thunderstorm and dangerous lightning that forced the abandonment of play in the event mid afternoon could dampen the players' or organisers' enthusiasm.
The charity golf event, the biggest of its kind conducted in Grafton, and a sporting memorabilia auction proved an enormous success raising more than $20,000 which will be donated to three charities ? St Joseph's Cowper Homes, Grafton, Ronald McDonald House, Newcastle, and Grafton Rotary Club.
More than $6000 was raised from the auction conducted by Kim Dahl, including a bid of $1000 for the late Sam Dougherty's favourite St George cap that was kindly donated by his father, Matt.
"The generosity of this town for a good cause is incredible," Dahl said.
Visiting players came from as far away as the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Mullumbimby, Armidale and Newcastle.
And despite the drenching, the majority of players stayed on at the golf club for the auction and to listen to special guest speakers ? Northern Rivers jockey Glen Colless and multi-talented former Australian cricketer Greg Ritchie.
Colless gave a great insight into his early career suggesting as an amateur jockey he thought winning the Coutts Cup was 'the bees knees' to his part in this year's memorable Melbourne Cup when he partnered Lachlan River into fifth placing behind wonder mare Makybe Diva.
Ritchie's portrayal detailing his rise to Australian cricketer, outrageous impersonations, stories involving his nickname 'Fat Cat', the great West Indian cricketers and trips abroad to India and Pakistan had the crowd enthralled.
Although some groups were eight and nine under par when play ceased, organisers decided to distribute a host of prizes via a number draw. No-one objected, even those who were at the top end of contenders. It was all in the spirit of day.
Special mention must go to the groups involving Grafton solicitors Peter Brennan, resplendent in his plus fours, Chris Wheelahan and major sponsor, Harry Reed, Dahl and Ritchie. With a few side wagers to be decided they elected to trudge through the rain to complete their round and returned to a hero's welcome.