PALM CITY -- For many people, it was a golf event made up of so many big names — Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino and many, many more.
For Dana Quigley, it was a golf event made up of so many big hearts.
Golf’s all-time greats converged on a little-known Florida city in northern Palm Beach County on Sunday and were playing for the family of fellow professional Dana Quigley, whose son Devon sustained severe head and brain injuries when his car went completely underneath a semi-truck on the night of Nov. 30, 2012, in Riviera Beach
“This means the world to me,” said Dana Quigley, 64, a well-liked veteran of professional golf. “Personally, to know these guys would do something like this is overwhelming, humbling and beyond belief.
“I thought they would get a few of my buddies on the Champions Tour to play in this event, but this — what is happening and what they’re doing for us — is just unbelievable. I didn’t really expect all these people to show up.”
For the legends, not showing up apparently was not an option. Just listen to them:
• Nicklaus, 73: “Golfers are helping golfers today. Friends are helping friends. The Quigleys are friends and family in need, and we’re here to support them.”
• Palmer, 83: “Helping each other is something the golf family is famous for. We just hope that the young man gets better.”
• Player, 77: “What I said for years is golfers are a close-knit group. So, Dana and his family are in trouble, and we all come together and help him. That’s how it should be. This is a wonderful thing to be a part of. This sport is about more than just hitting a golf ball with a stick.”
• Ben Crenshaw, 61: “We are all a family. These players out here today all know each other real well. We grew up and played golf together, and our children grew up together. We’re a bit old, and you might say we have vintage on our side, but we know this could happen to any of us with our children or grandchildren.”
• Trevino, 73, the man they call the Merry Mex and has only one way of looking at things, the positive way: “Devon’s a tough kid, and he’ll pull through. One day we’re going to walk into his house, and he’s going to say, ‘What time are we teeing off today?’ ”
Sunday’s fundraising round for Devon was held somewhat improbably in the not-so-bustling town of Palm City (population around 25,000). To reach the course, you go down a tree-lined two-lane road that suddenly, after a turn, unveils in front of you a beautiful golf course, The Floridian.
And just because Sunday’s round was connected to a tragic accident, it did not mean the golfers avoided laughter and jokes — particularly Trevino, who will talk to anyone who will listen. And you don’t have to be nearby. He also likes to shout.
Before the start of the round all the competitors lined up for a group picture and Trevino barked out, “Hurry up and take that darn photo. I can’t hold my stomach in any longer.”
And on the driving range, Trevino was giving tips to anyone who would listen, and even those who didn’t want to listen. After dispersing his golf wisdom, the Merry Mex summed up, “C’mon, guys, this is the easiest game there is. The ball is just sitting there waiting for you to do something to it.”
Dana Quigley said his son, who is 27 and spent much of his life on the golf course, is making progress. The progress is slow, but progress nevertheless.
Devon spent more than 50 days in a coma but is now out of it, although any physical movement is extremely minimal.
“He’s totally cognitive,” Dana Quigley said. “When we told him about this tournament, he cried.”
A steak-and-lobster dinner combined with an auction at Jack Nicklaus’ house Saturday night raised $400,000 for the Quigleys, and Sunday’s pro-am round — even though it was not open to the public — is expected to add another $600,000.
Dana Quigley unhesitatingly called Sunday’s tournament lineup, “Probably the greatest array of players you will ever see together.”
Then he thought and added, “They are also the greatest people.”