Future Generations Tournament at St. James draws 500 golfers

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By Elsa Bonstein, Golf Gab

On Saturday, 500 golfers gathered at St. James to play in the third annual Future Generations Tournament.
The day was warm and sunny. The golf courses were perfectly manicured. The food was delicious. There were silent and live auctions, plus a raffle.
But what makes the Future Generations Tournament outstanding each year is the size of the event.
Imagine 500 golfers playing a charity shotgun tournament (captain’s choice) simultaneously on four courses (The Reserve, the Players, Members and Founders courses). The logistics needed to pull this off are staggering.
Imagine soliciting teams of golfers who are sorted into men’s, women’s and mixed foursomes. Imagine collecting all the gifts and prizes, planning the food service, arranging for the volunteers to be on board before, during and after the event. Then you have to keep all the scores on four courses, determining winners for various categories. Arrange for parking and directional flags.   
This is your average charity golf event—times four.
Jon Evans, news anchor at WECT-TV, was the master of ceremonies again and spoke about the significance of this tournament.
“This tournament is a wonderful example of a community coming together,” he said. “St. James Plantation and the people in Brunswick County work hard to bring this off each year. This is the largest charity tournament in the area and I enjoy being part of it.”
Alan Deck, general manager of St. James Plantation, said that it was an honor for St. James to host the Future Generations Tournament each year.
“This is another great day for The First Tee and for St. James,” he said. “This is an extremely well-run event with lots of volunteers and that makes our job easier. All the different parts of the St. James management team come together for this, plus many of our residents are volunteers at The First Tee. The chair of this event, Wayne Moody, lives here. The management and the owners of St. James are solidly behind The First Tee.”    
Conrad Broussard is the head golf course superintendent at St. James. He has four superintendents under him, one at each course, and a peak season staff of 60.  
“We worked hard to make all four courses flawless for this event,” he said. “Luckily, the weather cooperated and we were in great shape today.”  
Kurt Gushman, the head chef at St. James, was on hand to watch his staff serve dinner to more than 500 people in 30 minutes.
“My son Kyle is in The First Tee and played in the tournament this year,” he said. “This is a great organization and I’m proud to help.”  
Participants in The First Tee program were on hand at each course to welcome golfers and volunteers. Many of the older Eagle and Ace Level youth played in the tournament as guests of registered teams.
Sam and Kasie Stamey, brother and sister from Caswell Beach, were at the Members Club to greet the golfers. The Stameys have been in The First Tee for two years.
“I like what we’re learning,” Sam said. “It’s more than just golf. We’re learning life lessons, things that will help us as we grow up.”
I walked down the reception line. The First Tee meet and greet was executed flawlessly by the Stamey siblings and the rest of their group (Jordan Saunders, Jacob Hall and Katy Kern). Each member of the group grasped my hand firmly, looked me in the eyes, called me by name, smiled and said they were glad to meet me.
It was awesome.
One of the highlights was the participation of Wounded Warriors from Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg. During the post tournament dinner, they were introduced to huge cheers and hoorahs from all the golfers and kids.
A ceremony with challenge coins then took place. Rebecca Albin, executive director of The First Tee of Brunswick County, and Terry Mauney, program director of The First Tee of Brunswick County, asked the Wounded Warriors to come forward. Participants of the Ace level (the highest level of The First Tee) then presented each Wounded Warrior a challenge coin engraved with the nine core values of The First Tee.
The challenge coin is a military tradition in which the commanding officer presents a special coin to a member of the military for service above and beyond the call of duty.
At the end of the ceremony, Mauney led the gathering in a rousing cheer, using the nine core values (honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment).
Retired military officers have been an important part of the organization and continued success of The First Tee of Brunswick County.
Carol and Rusty Petrea, founders of The First Tee of Brunswick County, are retired military (Navy captain and commander). Bob Larkin, a retired Marine colonel, is the liaison to The First Tee Program at Camp Lejeune.
Several retired high-ranking officers played in the Future Generations Tournament. These included Adm. Leighton Smith, Gen. Ralph Johnson, Lt. Gen. Joe Kinzer (a St. James resident) and Lt. Gen. Marvin Covault.
Many of these distinguished officers are active volunteers in our chapter and some will be teaching at the new North Carolina Life Skills and Leadership Academy this summer. The academy, an overnight facility for 50 youth and 15 counselors, recently had its grand opening and will be hosting youth from Brunswick County, the region and beyond for five-day immersions in golf and life skills activities.    
Cameryn Smith, an Ace level participant in The First Tee, played in the tournament with Adm. Smith and enjoyed the experience.
“He was a nice man, he liked to joke around and we had a great time,” she said.
Pete Laboy, a financial adviser for Wells Fargo, and former board member of The First Tee of Brunswick County, played in the event.
“The core values that these kids are learning will last them a lifetime,” he said. “They will be using what they learned here when they apply for college, interview for a job, and even as they move up the corporate ladder.”
Albin thanked St. James Plantation, golfers, volunteers, coaches, donors and local business leaders for their support. She thanked sheriff Ingram’s staff for providing security and the St. James Fire Department for furnishing emergency services.   
“This tournament allows us to continue to impact over 7,000 Brunswick County youth each year,” she said. “We have over 300 volunteers and coaches, many of them from St. James. We couldn’t do it without them.”
I spoke briefly with Wayne Moody, the chairman of the event. His committee has been meeting weekly for several months and began preparations for the 2013 Future Generations Tournament at the conclusion of the 2012 tournament.
“The Future Generations Tournament was a huge success this year,” he said. “It all came together at the end. I’m very proud of St. James and its support of this tournament and I want to thank all the volunteers, from St. James and elsewhere, who worked hard to make it happen.”

Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at elanbon@atmc.net. Follow her at facebook.com/elsa.bonstein.