|Blues defenseman Jeff Woywitka prepares to tee off at the Blues Charity Golf Classic (Photo by Jim McAfee).
Jeff Woywitka reaches into his golf bag and pulls out a driver.
He sets his ball on the tee and takes a few practice swings before stepping up for the real thing.
Side-by-side with his Blues teammates on the driving range, Woywitka pulls his club back, swings, and uses his hand to shield his eyes as he looks into the bright morning sun, trying to find the ball in the air.
But he can’t seem to locate it.
That’s because the ball rolled off the tee and landed about 20 yards in front of him.
At least, that’s the way Blues goaltender Jason Bacashihua tells it.
“He never saw it roll down by his feet,” Bacashihua said.
Whether the story is true or not may never be known for sure, because Woywitka may never admit it. But it doesn’t matter much, because stories like these are exactly what Wednesday was supposed to be about.
The Blues held their first-ever Charity Golf Classic on September 19 at Meadowbrook Country Club in Ballwin. The event was presented by Peoples National Bank and was a chance for Blues management and players, past and present, to get out into the community and play 18-holes with some of the team’s supporters, including Scottrade, Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi and more.
For the Blues, it was an opportunity to put names with faces, a chance to get involved and meet the people that support the team. At the same time, it was a chance to raise money for the St. Louis Blues Fourteen Fund.
For $2,000, a group of four players could play a round of golf with a current Blues player and Blues alum. An additional $500 allowed their company to sponsor a hole. Participants received a buffet lunch, a Blues gift package and a cocktail reception sponsored by Bruce Rubin later in the evening.
“I was looking forward to an opportunity to get back into the community and be a part of the Blues again,” said former Blues enforcer Reed Low. He retired earlier in the summer and has returned, like so many other Blues Alumni, to make St. Louis his permanent home. He said he’s glad he could play a round of golf in order to raise money for charity.
“Hockey players and professional athletes in general have a special opportunity to give back to the community that gives us so much,” he said.
|Martin Rucinsky attempts a putt at the Blues Charity Golf Classic (Photo by Jim McAfee). |
Recently retired players Scott Mellanby and Jim Campbell also participated in the event.
Jay McKee’s team claimed the tournament’s inaugural championship. His sixsome, which included Tom Shelby, Bill Cady, Phil Fusz, Harry Freeman and Blake Dunlop, shot 19 under par for a score of 53.
“It was absolutely the team that was carrying me,” McKee said. “Of all the golf tournaments I’ve played, that was definitely the best group of guys that I’ve played with."
McKee, who was standing next to Woywitka on the driving range earlier in the day, recalls the infamous drive to be a little worse than Bacashihua remembered it.
“[Woywitka] was to my left, and it actually went between my legs,” McKee said. “I can confirm it.”
While he won’t admit to such a horrendous shot, Woywitka did say that his golf game wasn’t as good as he would have liked. But nonetheless, he’s quick to suggest that he wasn’t the worst golfer on the course. That title, he says, belonged to Christian Backman.
“Now how would he know that?” Backman asked.
He paused for a second.
“You know, though, he’s probably right.”
Kidding aside, the event proved to be a good time for everyone involved. It raised more than $40,000 for the St. Louis Blues Fourteen Fund.
“We had fun here, it was a good turnout and a good bunch of guys we golfed with today,” Woywitka said. “Raising money, giving all that money back to charity is awesome. That’s what we’re here for. To socialize, to meet different people and to show people the Blues are a first class organization.”
And just like his teammates, Woywitka showed class all day… even though he only drove the ball 20 yards.
|Blues Charity Golf Classic Winners |
Winning Team: Tom Shelby, Bill Cady, Phil Fusz, Harry Freeman, Jay McKee, Blake Dunlop
Longest Drive: Jack Eisnbeis
Closest to the Pin: Martin Kariya
Barclay Plager Spirit Award: Rodger Riney, Bob Plager