Photo: John Russell
A golfer celebrates after Predators forward David Legwand (right) sinks a putt at this year's tournament.
Undaunted by a gloomy forecast, a full field of golfers joined Predators players and staff at Hermitage Golf Course on Monday, September 18 for the 9th Annual First Tennessee Dr. Mac Memorial Golf Tournament. The tournament, named for the late Dr. James McPherson, is a primary fundraiser for the Predators Foundation. McPherson, who passed away in 2004, was the Predators' team dentist and a beloved member of the organization's family. His daughter, Cristin Wallace D.D.S., has taken over the team dentist role and was traveling around the President's Reserve course Monday enjoying the event. Wallace said her father would have loved the day, which combined golf, the Predators and fund-raising.
The tournament began at noon with lunch catered by Applebee's. Then after a 1:30 p.m. shotgun start, the foursomes hit the course. Despite clouds and periods of drizzle, the weather cooperated to allow several hours of golf. As foursomes played the course, at least one Predators player or coach was stationed at each tee and each green. The Predators contributed drives and putts that participating teams could elect to use under scramble rules.
"I like the format for the fans," said Predators forward Scottie Upshall, an avid golfer who bailed out many a foursome with his long drives. "They get to meet new people at every tee and every green. As the player, you want to make every shot a good one for the group. I was getting a hold of a few of them out there."
Each foursome had completed about a dozen holes when the skies finally opened around 5:30 p.m. In a sight that was itself quite remarkable, a winding line of golf carts made its way back to the clubhouse in the downpour. An award ceremony followed, with all teams walking away with prizes. The foursome of Roger Choate, Dennis Gregory, Brad Proctor and Brian Proctor took top honors with a winning round of -11, receiving a road trip with the Predators to see them take on the Dallas Stars on Friday, December 29, 2006 at the American Airlines Center. The top three finishers won unique Predators hockey-stick putters as part of their prize packages. There were also specialty winners for a number of mini-competitions, like putting and longest drive contests.
"Mother Nature gave us enough time for four hours of golf, and the feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive," said Gerry Helper, president of the board of directors for the Predators Foundation. "Many thanks to our sponsors--First Tennessee, Applebee's, Pepsi, Ajax Turner, Flat Earth Networking, Inc., FastSigns, Andrews Cadillac and the Nashville Scene--for their roles in making the day a fun one for everyone involved. Best of all, the money raised goes to the Predators Foundation with a portion of the proceeds earmarked for funding a dentistry scholarship in memory of Dr. Mac."
Predators head coach Barry Trotz, who spent Monday traversing the course in his snack-and-beverage cart, said he received many compliments on his Predators players. "Talking to the people who were at the golf tournament, the one thing that was very common was they were really impressed by the personalities that we had as well as the way our players interacted with the golfers."
One golfer even took time the following day to communicate his experience to the Predators' community relations department. "My children waited up for me and were very excited by the autographed jersey, hat and golf balls," he said. "They really enjoyed me sharing stories about the players and how nice everyone was. [My son] was extremely grateful for the autographed Paul Kariya card. And he had a lot of questions about Jason Arnott. He left the jersey and the golf balls out so he could look at them this morning before going to school."
From the volunteers to the players to the golfers, everyone came together to make the 2006 version of the annual event a successful and memorable one. The rain may have slightly abbreviated the tournament, but it certainly didn't dampen any spirits.
Photo: Schenk Photography
Predators forward Jason Arnott (center) with the winning foursome at the 2006 Predators Foundation Golf Tournament.
Putting Contest Winner: Charles Walling