A brief late-summer shower did not dampen the enthusiasm for the 20th annual Chicago Blackhawks Foundation Four Feathers Invitational charity golf outing at Medinah Country Club on Monday.
The event serves as a significant fundraiser for the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and involved current and former Blackhawks players, coaches and front-office personnel, along with corporate sponsors.
"It's just always a pleasure to be here and the (Medinah) club is always very nice," said Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz. "It is good to get everyone back together and have the players all come together, too. What we do for the Blackhawks Foundation with the silent auction and the live auction is great. And we also have some of our corporate sponsors here, so it really makes it a festive atmosphere."
Players with varying golf skill levels took part in the event that included some good-natured ribbing.
"Some of the players haven't played one round of golf in their life, but they are pretty good athletes," Wirtz said. "They can certainly hit the ball. Now can they putt? And their short game could be a different story. But they enjoy it."
Club president John McDonough appreciates the opportunity for improved team camaraderie, as well as the community fundraising aspect of the golf event.
"It is kind of the unofficial kickoff to the season," McDonough said. "It brings everybody together. It's a great cause, spirits are high. There is a lot of enthusiasm and we get back to business later in the week. This is the perfect event. They are just kind of acclimating themselves back into it. And to do it in kind of a casual setting...there is a lot of business to be done going forward, but I think this is perfect timing."
The benevolent mission of the charitable outing never gets old, even for veterans such as Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith.
"It's a special event," Kane said. "When I first came here, the first couple of times it was rained out. Just to be able to give back to the sponsors... and obviously the Blackhawks do a lot in the community through the charity and it helps a lot of people. It is fun to be a part of the event.
"It is always right before training camp and right before our first meeting. So it is nice to get back," Kane said. "You always see the guys skating and at the rink. But it is nice to kind of enjoy the day with everyone and have a few laughs and have some fun."
Keith also appreciates the multifaceted value of the Four Feathers golf outing.
"This makes a lot of money for a lot of Blackhawks charities," Keith said. "It is for a great cause and it is always nice to come back here and get the guys back together to start the year. Kind of like a bonding thing. I have been coming here for a while now, so there are a lot of familiar (sponsor) faces. A lot of sponsors have been around here for a long time. Over time you get to know them and develop some relationships. It is always nice to catch up because during the season it is so busy."
The spectacular day ended with a spirited live auction and encouraging words from former Blackhawks player and current radio voice Troy Murray before dinner was served.