Spotlight on | Golf

City of Miami Golf Classic benefits a worthy cause

 
 
Charlie DeLucca Jr. beams as he talks with sports writers about The First Tee Miami Learning Center on opening day of the center on Jan. 26, 2013. DeLucca founded The First Tee and envisioned it as a place for education and golf training for youngsters. DeThe new nearly $2 million golf and learning facility is open to youngsters ages 5 to 18.
Charlie DeLucca Jr. beams as he talks with sports writers about The First Tee Miami Learning Center on opening day of the center on Jan. 26, 2013. DeLucca founded The First Tee and envisioned it as a place for education and golf training for youngsters. DeThe new nearly $2 million golf and learning facility is open to youngsters ages 5 to 18.
MARSHA HALPER / Miami Herald Staff

Special to the Miami Herald

This is the time of year for many charity golf tournaments that help raise money for worthy causes.

One of the oldest of these events is the City of Miami Golf Classic in memory of Sandra DeLucca.

The tournament, to be held Dec. 6 at International Links Miami Melreese Golf Course, raises money for the Sandra DeLucca Developmental Center.

Sandra DeLucca, who died in 1988, is the daughter of Charlie DeLucca Jr., who runs the First Tee program out of International Links and is probably the most influential person in South Florida golf. And most of his influence goes toward helping young people.

“I refer to Charlie as my guardian angel,” said Nadia Arguelles, who oversees the Developmental Center, which she estimates serves 600 or so individuals each year. “Charlie has such a good heart.

“He will never turn away someone who needs help. He’s an unbelievable man.”

The Developmental Center addresses mainly adolescents to adults with special needs.

When the golf tournament first started 23 years ago, the organizers had little grasp as to what staging a golf tournament entailed. DeLucca stepped in and dealt with any problems like he was smacking a 4-iron.

He told the organizers, “I’ll make sure you won’t ever have to worry again about how to put together a tournament.”

He kept his word.

In recent years, the tournament has raised more than $100,000 annually for the center, and the cash goes toward programs that are not funded by the city.

“It’s very special to see individuals in the community come together in a special way as this event proves,” Arguelles said.

Another person helping stage the tournament is Laura De Souza. Like Arguelles, she also is in awe of DeLucca.

“When he shows up at the center, he’s like a superstar,” De Souza said. “Such a huge heart.”

The center and DeLucca make sure the residents of the center become involved in the tournament.

“Before the tournament kicks off, they stuff the goody bags, make the center pieces, help out at the registration table,” De Souza said. “It’s very important to get them to be a part of it. And we also make sure they get to go on a golf cart ride.”

De Souza noted that “… Charlie found a way to keep his daughter’s legacy alive. He’s got a winning combination with golf and the people we serve at the center. He’s the heart and soul of this event, and the end result is priceless. Nothing stops him.”

For more information on the tournament or to make an outright donation, call John Reed at 305-633-4583 or Arguelles at 305-960-4962.

MICCOSUKEE EVENT

The 12th annual Mike Simmons Alumni Golf Classic will be held at Miccosukee Golf and Country Club on Dec. 6. Entry fee is $120. For more information, call Simmons at 786-247-8215 or 305-380-6155.

THAT’S A FACT, JACK

The longest golf course in the world at 8,548 yards is located in the Yunnan Province of China in the Himalayas.

Built in 2001, the par-72 course called Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is at an altitude of 10,000 feet.

Good news: Your ball carries about 20 percent farther at that height.

Bad news: You are likely to suffer from mild headaches and minor breathing problems.

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