Nothing’s better than spending the day on the fairway. Well, nothing except spending the day on the fairway for a good cause. That’s just what firefighters, sponsors and guests did during the annual LAFD Invitational at MountainGate Country Club.
The perfect weather set the tone as attendees gathered expectantly for the Golf Ball Drop. Relief President Juan Albarran said, “The ball drop is my favorite because there is so much anticipation by all involved.” And after the balls hit the green, four lucky winners were identified: A.J. Brandenstein scored $2,500 cash (then donated it back to the charity); Gary Klasse nabbed a 3-Day Baja Mexico Cruise for Two (from Montrose Travel); Ivan Carmona landed an HDTV (from Symons Capital Management); and Don Gibson netted an Apple iPad (from Hart, Mieras & Morris, Inc.).
Then, players took to their carts for the shotgun start. And disproving the old adage “golf is a good walk spoiled,” the teams thoroughly enjoyed the game and camaraderie. Breaking only for lunch provided by In-N-Out, the teams battled for the top prizes (and bragging rights). In the end, however, only a few could be named champs:
1st Place (53) – Douglas Buchanan, Don Gibson, Kevin Reilly, Gary Sherman
2nd Place (55 *Tied) – Roger Camunas, Kelly Faulkner, Sherri Tetachuk, Mike Waters
2nd Place (55 *Tied) – Kevin Wright, Terrance Manning, Gary Gatena, Dale Grant
3rd Place (56) – Ivan Carmona, Timothy Halloran, William James, Gabriel Lopez
4th Place (57) – Joseph Castro, Gary Klasse, Dennis Klasse, Mark Zizi
But, those weren’t the only winners. Individual golfers vied for special titles. After the cards were tallied and the dust had settled, these folks earned some unique accolades:
Hustle Hole: Gary Klasse, Dennis Klasse, Mark Zizi and Joe Castro
Guess the Distance of your Drive: Mel Keefer Guess: 250/Actual: 249
Closest to the Pin: Raul Cabrera
Longest Drive Men’s: Tyler Tomich
Longest Drive Women’s: Kim Kouwabunpat
Putting Contest: Tim Sweeney
Later, at the evening reception, the silent auction wowed attendees this year with unique items ranging from a sweet Les Paul guitar to exciting vacation packages. The laughter continued through dinner—which was courtesy of the Ben B. & Joyce E. Eisenberg Foundation—as the awards were handed out and winning bidders collected their items.
Mike Camello, Arturo Jacinto and Gary Klasse really went above and beyond in obtaining new sponsors for the tournament, making sure the event outdid previous years. And things went off without a hitch thanks to Major Emergency Sponsors Bradawn Insurance Services, Inc; HealthSCOPE Benefits; and Lewis, Marenstein, Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, LLP. And shirt sponsor Kevin Wright of Morgan Stanley made sure everyone looked dapper. Overall, this year’s event broke records across the board—from the number of sponsors to participants who signed up at the special firefighter rate. All of those factors helped boost auction totals and make the entire event an overwhelming success.
Albarran remarked, “The culmination of hard work by staff, volunteers, trustees, MountainGate and our golfers allows us to showcase what group momentum can accomplish.” We hope to see you out on the course again next year for another round of golf and good times.
By David Vienna, LAFRA staff
Photos by Juan Carlos Sanchez, LAFRA staff
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