Golf spotlight

Center mixes academics, sports

 

Special to The Miami Herald

The First Tee gang at International Links-Melreese has been walking around all week with smiles on their faces.

And when we use the word gang, we mean it — a gang for doing good.

Why so happy? On Saturday, Charlie DeLucca Sr., Charlie DeLucca Jr., Jay Miller and all their cohorts — in this instance it would include the PGA Tour, the city of Miami, Donald Trump Enterprises, Cadillac and many, many others — will be fulfilling a lifelong dream.

They will be opening their new Learning/Family Center at International Links.

The center will be set up for tutoring students in academics, with a nice dose of golf and other sports mixed in.

“With this new facility, it will take things to a new level,” said DeLucca Jr., who partnered with his father in pulling off the new facility. “Some 15 to 16 years ago my dad drew this up on paper, and now it will exist.”

The center will contain computers, printers, video equipment and photography equipment. All brand new, and all state of the art.

“The tutoring group teaches the way we teach golf. It’s made to be fun,” DeLucca Jr. said. “If you’re inside studying you might study for 20 to 30 minutes working on your homework, then you’ll stop. If you want to go hit golf balls, you can do that. You can putt if you want. If you want to go shoot some basketball hoops, you can even do that.

“We don’t want these kids to feel like they’re in school right after they just got out of school.

“A lot of these kids, if you give them the opportunity, they’ll go after it like nothing you have ever seen,” DeLucca Jr. continued. “Kids want the structure. They know if they are struggling in chemistry, they can go to these tutors who will help them, and they know they will get better.

“Kids only do bad things when they’re picked on and there’s nobody there to help them,” he added. “We will be there to help them.”

The ribbon cutting for the facility at International Links will be at 11 a.m. with a 10:30 a.m. registration.

The public is invited to attend.

“We absolutely want everybody here,” DeLucca Jr. said. “Tell them it’s a personal invite from Charlie DeLucca.”

HOPE FOR HAITI

The fourth annual Hope for Haiti tournament will be held March 8 at the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club.

Money raised by the tournament goes to support Haiti and, particularly, its youth.

The need for the tournament became even greater in 2010 when the country was devastated by an earthquake from which it is still struggling to recover.

Mike Simmons, of Golf for Hope, Haiti, and Gerald Little, of Love, Hope, Prosper, have joined together to stage the tournament.

A brochure and entry form can be picked up at the Miccosukee pro shop (6401 Kendale Lakes Dr.), or more information can be obtained by calling 786-247-8215.

Entry fee is $150 with the field limited to 144.

HAIL TO RAFOLS

Oscar Rafols, a Miami resident, recently helped the U.S. team to a sixth-place finish in the World of Golf Championships in Durban, South Africa. The event involved 40 countries.

Qualifying for the U.S. team was not easy for Rafols. The qualifying tournament was at Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth, Ind.

Rafols, who came to Miami from Venezuela, qualified in 42-degree temperatures, and there was also hail at Swan Lake.

“That was the first time I have ever seen hail,” Rafols said. “Being pelted in the head was an all-new experience for me.”

In addition, Team Florida won the State National Championship at Swan Lake. Team Florida members were Don Lyons of West Palm, Bob Benser Sr. of Naples, Frank Monicao of Naples, Mike Aybar of Miami and Shauna Frederico, of Wellington.

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