News

The Thunderbirds in the Community – Rising to the Challenge

When we look back at 2020 from a sporting lens, we’ll likely point to March 11th as the day everything changed. That fateful date marked the beginning of a rapid, indefinite cancelation of nearly every sporting event on the planet. March Madness, gone. The Olympics were pushed to next year. And the PGA TOUR rushed to find their part in a solution to one of the greatest global challenges in recent history. The sporting world, of course, wasn’t the only hard-hit industry during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The charity sector was decimated, finding itself without regular grants and donations from dependable organizations for the first time in decades. Thankfully, however, Arizona charities had an ace in the hole – The Thunderbirds.

As pillars of the Arizona philanthropic community, The Thunderbirds – much like the mythical bird for which their home city is named – rose from the ashes of anxiety to provide much-needed aid to hundreds of local charities and nonprofits. Within days after the CDC officially designated COVID-19 as a global pandemic in March, The Thunderbirds stepped up with an emergency $1 million donation local charitable groups including Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley, St. Mary’s Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul.

“Thanks to the tremendous community support every year of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, The Thunderbirds are in a unique position to provide immediate support,” said Chance Cozby, executive director of The Thunderbirds. “We are in unprecedented times. We felt, as an organization, it was imperative to act quickly and get much-needed funds to help those in dire need as soon as possible.”

Months later in August after a second wave of positive COVID-19 cases gripped the nation, The Thunderbirds announced an additional donation of $3.8 million to 43 Valley charities as part of their Spring funding cycle.

“We understand the importance these charities serve and that was never more evident than this spring when we had to band together to battle this pandemic,” said Tim Woods, Thunderbirds Big Chief. “To see what is happening in our community and how we as an organization are able to help so many is a very proud moment.”

After an influx of monetary support, The Thunderbirds took advantage of virtual meeting platforms like Zoom to launch their “In the Community Conversations” and reached out to dozens of charity partners to learn more about specific needs and to rally the community around common causes. In total, The Thunderbirds conducted 30 separate interviews with Arizona charity leaders and found ways to ease the burden of overwhelmed organizations.

Some organizations like Teen Lifeline who provides support to young people experiencing depression needed sanitation equipment. Ronald McDonald House which provides housing to families whose children are receiving life-saving treatment at world-renowned pediatric centers needed meal donations more than anything else. Others needed additional volunteers, cash donations and clothing to name a few.

“What we found was every organization we spoke to had unique needs,” said 2021 tournament chairman Scott Jenkins. “Cash donations never hurt, but we realized our group could help with more than just providing funds. Writing checks can help from a distance, certainly, but real community support comes from rolling up your sleeves and getting to work.”

Get to work they did. As many Arizona schools prepared to open their doors to students for the first time in months, The Thunderbirds helped ensure every young learner had the tools they needed to succeed by providing on-site support to Arizona Helping Hands. They prepared first-aid kits, filled backpacks full of school supplies and even built bicycles.

“Thunderbirds Charities is very proud of our 10-year partnership with Arizona Helping Hands,” said Ed Grant of The Thunderbirds. “Especially during this pandemic where so many children who are used to getting service – either from their church or their school – are not receiving them right now. But Arizona Helping Hands continued to provide that. It’s very meaningful and it’s very important to us.”

Realizing the importance of exercise and playing safely, The Thunderbirds went to Special Olympics Arizona’s headquarters to help prepare 140 “Return to Play” bags full of personal protection equipment like thermometers, masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to assist SOAZ programs start planning to resume activities. And To celebrate Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun’s 30th anniversary and as part of their commitment to local non-profit organizations, The Thunderbirds helped Rebuilding Together manufacture and install a wheelchair ramp at the home of a local woman with mobility challenges who had a hard time getting up and down her stairs.

Tyler Kent of The Thunderbirds was on hand to aid in the installation and also shed light on what these projects and the work of the organization at large mean to him and his fellow Thunderbirds.

“With the pandemic, charities need more help than ever,” said Kent. “The Thunderbirds have supported our charity partners financially, but what’s more meaningful today is working alongside my fellow thunderbirds and our charity partners in the community to bring joy and happiness to people in need.”

To lend a hand during the holidays more than 50 Thunderbirds and a number of Waste Management officials visited St. Mary’s Food Bank and United Food Bank before Thanksgiving and Christmas to assist with emergency food preparation. Over the course of two hours, The Thunderbirds and Waste Management officials packed more than 3,000 emergency food boxes and filled 864 backpacks with food for children who do not have access to proper nutrition outside of school – which has been directly impacted by COVID precautions. St. Mary’s Food Bank estimates this 2-hour food pack from The Thunderbirds and Waste Management resulted in helping nearly 2,400 Arizonans.

“These vital organizations do an amazing job helping hungry people in our community regardless of the circumstances,” said Thunderbirds Big Chief Chance Cozby. “Obviously, the current health crisis has impacted their ability to serve the community in the same ways they have in the past, but through volunteer support and the backing of the community at large, we know we can come together and provide aid and assistance to these as much as we can.”

It goes to show what can be done when a community comes together. And while we’re not out of the woods just yet, knowing the community support of the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the host Thunderbirds can and does lead to extraordinary charitable giving is a sight for sore eyes as we inch towards getting back to normal.

News

Strong Field Set for 2020 Patriot All-America Presented By Valley Toyota Dealers

13 Top-100, 29 Too-200 in WAGR to compete for Authentic Air Force Jacket, F-35 Trophy

LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – The 10-year anniversary of the Patriot All-America, presented by Valley Toyota Dealers, is proud to announce a standout field set to compete December 27-31, 2020, at Wigwam Golf Club. The 54-hole stroke play event features 84 of the world’s most elite amateur golfers from top programs including Pepperdine, Illinois, Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Texas A&M, Baylor and Vanderbilt.

Noah Norton, a senior standout at Georgia Tech, returns to defend his 2019 title. Norton is joined by fellow former champions Mason Overstreet from the University of Arkansas (2017) and Isaiah Jackson from the University of Memphis (2018), each attempting to become the first player to win two Patriot All-America titles.

The dynamic field is comprised of PING All-Americans from all three NCAA Divisions, NAIA and NJCAA in the collegiate ranks; American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) All-Americans; and a member from each U.S. Military Academy. 29 of the world’s top-200 golfers will compete for the coveted F-35 trophy on the 31st of December.

Top-100 golfers in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, as of December 27, 2020, include:

NAME| SCHOOL| WAGR Ranking
Mason Andersen, Arizona State – 94
Puwit Anupansuebsai, San Diego State – 71
Sam Choi, None – 33
Angus Flanagan, Minnesota – 41
Palmer Jackson, Notre Dame – 90
Yuxin Lin, Florida – 16
Maxwell Moldovan, Ohio State – 62
Noah Norton, Georgia Tech – 43
David Perkins, Illinois State – 34
Turk Pettit, Clemson – 79
Jackson Suber, Ole Miss – 82
Patrick Welch, Oklahoma – 92
Trevor Werbylo, Arizona – 50

The Patriot All-America honors fallen or severely wounded soldiers in partnership with the Folds of Honor Foundation. The golfers receive a golf bag donated by PING Corporation at the event’s opening ceremony emblazoned with the name and branch of service of a fallen or injured military member whom they shall represent. Participants also receive a card with the soldier’s story so they can be familiar with that soldier.

At the conclusion of the tournament, the golf bags are shipped to players’ schools and auctioned with all proceeds benefitting the Folds of Honor Foundation.

The Patriot All-America is a collaboration between the Arizona Golf Association, Golf Coaches Association of America, JDM Partners and the West Valley Mavericks in partnership with the Folds of Honor Foundation and support from the Thunderbirds, the Waste Management Phoenix Open host.

About The Patriot All-America Invitational

Featuring golf’s stars of tomorrow, The Patriot All-America is regarded as a top amateur event nationally, attracting PING All-America golfers from all three NCAA Divisions, NAIA and NJCAA rankings as well as from universities outside the United States. The Arizona Golf Association (AGA), JDM Partners and the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) partnering with the Folds of Honor Foundation to host the tournament. For more information visit patriotallamerica.com.

About Wigwam Golf Club
The Wigwam’s three 18-hole championship golf courses offer a diversity that cannot be matched by any other Arizona resort, with 54 holes of championship golf including two courses designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The Gold Course has hosted many signature tournaments over the years, including numerous U.S. Open Qualifiers, U.S. Amateur Qualifiers, several NCAA Regional Championships and the annual Patriot All-America Invitational, one of the top amateur competitions in the world. The 7,430 yard, par 72 track has also received various industry awards and accolades since opening in 1965, including being named one of the “Top 100 Golf Courses in America.” In December 2009, The Wigwam (including the golf courses and resort property) was purchased by JDM Partners, led by sports icon Jerry Colangelo. For more information, please visit www.wigwamgolf.com.

About Arizona Golf Association

The Arizona Golf Association has been serving amateur golfers in Arizona since 1923 when it held the first State Amateur Championship. Today, it is licensed by the United States Golf Association to provide handicapping and course rating services to member clubs, to provide tournament and rules expertise and to oversee the application of amateur status.

About Golf Coaches Association of America

Established in 1958, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) is the professional organization of golf coaches. The GCAA’s mission is to support its member coaches by creating educational opportunities, providing resources, and promoting its members with the purpose of enhancing their overall performance as coaches, mentors, and teachers. The GCAA also recognizes the excellence and achievements of its members and their student-athletes in academic, athletic and civic endeavors.

News

Arizona Golf Hall of Fame Announces 2020 Inductees

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 14, 2020

 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Arizona Golf Hall of Fame Committee is proud to announce the four inductees to the 2020 Class, which is comprised of three modern candidates selected by the Voting Delegates: John Gunby, Tina Tombs and Mark Woodward; and one Legacy candidate by the Selectors Committee: Desert Mashie Golf Club. The Legacy Division recognizes those in Arizona who have made contributions to golf, but due to the historical nature and having occurred decades ago their impact is not known to modern voters.

The dinner and induction ceremony will be held Tuesday, February 16, 2021. Invitations and RSVP’s to the ceremony will be available at a later date.

 

John Gunby, Southwest Section PGA Professional 

A 2017 recipient of the AGA Champion of Golf Award recognizing “Selfless lifetime service to the Game of Golf in Arizona”, John Gunby’s dedication to serving the game for the last 40+ years is well-documented and recognized by his peers. He has orchestrated a fundraising golf tournament for the Wounded Warriors Foundation on Veterans Day, and has been very involved from the outset with the Southwest PGA’s and the national PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) initiative including orchestrating a PGA HOPE Comedy Show to raise funds for PGA HOPE programs.

In 2019, Gunby received the Southwest PGA Patriot Award, which bestows special recognition on a PGA Professional who personifies patriotism through the game of golf and demonstrates unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected the United States. The 2013 Southwest PGA Golf Professional of the Year, Gunby was recently announced as an enshrinee into the 2019 Southwest PGA Hall of Fame.

“I am deeply indebted to all those involved with golf in Arizona, as they have made such a positive difference in my life and the lives of countless others,” said Gunby. “The acronym GOLF so appropriately stands for: Great Opportunities, Lifetime Friends. Thank God for the wonderful game of golf.”

 

Tina Tombs, Professional Golfer and Instructor 

A two-time NCAA All-American in 1984 and 1985 at Arizona State University, and an ASU Hall of Fame inductee in 2006, Tina Tombs competed on the LPGA Tour after graduation and won the 1990 Jamie Farr Toledo Championship. She has been a member of the LPGA ever since, as a competitive player on the tour and now on the Legends Tour, and as an accomplished teaching professional.

In 2014 and 2018, Tombs was named the LPGA National Teacher of the Year. She earned the Arizona Golf Association’s Updegraff Award in 2017, given annually to the person who “… by his or her actions and accomplishments exemplify the Spirit of the Game.” Other awards include 2014 and 2018 LPGA Central Section Teacher of the Year; 2015 Marilynn Smith Service Award; Golf Digest’s Best Teachers in Arizona, 2017-20; Teaching and Club Pro’s Top 50 LPGA Teachers, 2017-20; and GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher since 2019.

“When I think about my career, I feel overwhelmed,” said Tombs. “I have put my heart and soul into this game. I am blessed to have received so much from the game of golf and its beautiful community. I wake up every morning and I am filled with gratitude, even more so after this year, that my office is the golf course. It is the honor of my career to be recognized by the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame!”

 

Mark Woodward, Superintendent 

Currently the Director of Agronomy at Whisper Rock Golf Club in Scottsdale, Mark Woodward is a Certified Golf Course Superintendent/Director of Agronomy (CGCS) who has over 50 years of experience in many facets of the golf industry, forty-five of those in Arizona. His diverse career has included both stints as a Superintendent and Administrator.

As the City of San Diego’s Golf Operations Manager in 2005, Woodward was responsible for preparing the Torrey Pines South Golf Course to host the 2008 U.S. Open, working closely with the United States Golf Association (USGA).  For his efforts at Torrey Pines, Woodward was recognized by Golf Inc. Magazine as one of golf’s “Most Admired Operators” in 2006 and in the Top 35 “Most Powerful People in Golf’ in 2008 and 2009.  He served as CEO of the Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA) from 2008 through 2010, and was a Senior Vice President of Operations for Scottsdale-based OB Sports Golf Management from 2013 through 2017. Woodward served on the Cactus and Pine Golf Course Superintendents Association board of directors on three separate occasions dating back to the 1980’s, and currently as President.

“I was extremely humbled and taken a little off-guard to be selected for this honor,” said Woodward. “By far, the most rewarding part of my career in golf has been all the inspirational people I’ve met and worked with. They are the true foundation of the golf industry.”

 

LEGACY DIVISION

Desert Mashie Golf Club, Industry Leader

During the years of segregation when golf was a restrictive game and most courses were prohibitive or private, a group of ten professional African American men – the Desert Mashie founding fathers – came together and challenged that limitation. The Desert Mashie Golf Club was founded in 1946 as an organization “for all persons interested in golf regardless of race, or ethnicity,” one of the oldest independent clubs in Arizona. They stated the organization did not practice, permit or condone segregation or discrimination in any form because of color, race, creed, religion, national origin or gender orientation in order to foster their love of golf and expand the sport in the community.

The club defined its purpose, commitment and outlined a program for growth, with five objectives established:

  1. To provide instructions and clinics for its members
  2. To provide organized competition for its members
  3. To promote a golf program for youth
  4. To promote a program for women
  5. To develop better public relations in the total golf community

In 1948, Desert Mashie held its first annual golf tournament and in 1950, Desert Mashie joined the United States Golf Association (USGA). In 1954, Desert Mashie Golf Club became a charter member of the Western States Golf Association (WSGA) whose 30 member clubs span six western states.

A past president, Dr. William “Bill” Dickey, was one of the most decorated servants of the golf industry. Fervently believing in a college education for youth through golf, Dr. Dickey was one of the founders of the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, and in his own BDSA Foundation, distributed over 1,000 scholarships to college-bound minority golfers. An Arizona Golf Updegraff Awardee recognizing his spirit and service, he also was presented with The PGA Distinguished Service Award in 1999, its highest honor.

“We are so honored and grateful to be named to the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame,” said Carolyn Suttles, Desert Mashie Club President. “The mission of Desert Mashie has always been about our Junior Golfers. The fact that we have helped send young people off to college – and the alumni from our Junior Program – to work not only in golf but in a myriad of professional careers, is proof of the impact our organization has had on this community.”

 

Contact:

David Bataller                                     [email protected]
Director of Communications              (602) 944-3035

News

The Country Club at DC Ranch debuts new Nine-Hole Course: Making Golf Fast and Fun

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

For more information, contact:

Melanie Halpert (The Country Club at DC Ranch) …………..(480) 342 -7246  [email protected]

 

 

Making Golf Fast and Fun

The Country Club at DC Ranch debuts new Nine-Hole Course

Making Golf Fast and Fun

 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (January 2020) In today’s fast paced society, everyone is always looking for ways to squeeze more time into a day. The golf industry has seen a big movement in creating opportunities for golfers to play the game either on a shorter course or in less time than your traditional 4 hours. In keeping with this trend, The Country Club at DC Ranch has introduced two new opportunities to make the game of golf fast and fun.

 

Introducing the Horseshoe! The Country Club at DC Ranch debuted its a nine-hole, short course this Winter. In continuing with The Club’s brand, the short course was named, The Horseshoe. Featuring nine holes ranging from 54 to 104 yard and designed by Greey/Pickett, this course is perfect for a relaxing, fun, quick round of golf. Great for beginner golfers, wine and dines, family golf, lessons, Juniors, and Seniors; this course is an excellent fit for the diverse Membership at The Country Club at DC Ranch. Making golf more approachable is key. Members are busier than ever and want an opportunity to play even if they do not have 4 hours to commit. This is a perfect fit. Those golfers new to the sport, may be intimidated to play a traditional course. The short course will allow for a fun opportunity to learn and enjoy the game. The Horseshoe features the same tif eagle Bermuda grass putting surface greens like the main course. Fronting these 9 greens, are sand bunkers for a similar look that members would experience on a traditional golf course. Other additions to the Practice Park included: an 8500 square foot practice putting green, an increase practice tee space and a larger short game area with 2 chipping greens and greenside bunkers.  This enhanced practice area gives members plenty of space and opportunity to improve their game.

In addition to the Horseshoe, the Club recently presented the Gold Tees to its Membership.  The new golf tees play to a yardage of 3969 yards, 1100 yards shorter than the red tees and approximately 3000 yards shorter than the black tees.   This new tee is a great option for players of all ages and ability levels including our Junior golfers.  The Gold Tee Box, gives members the opportunity to play and get on the green in regulation more often.  The Gold Tee is rated at 60.5 with a slope of 98 for men and is rated at 61.6 and a slope of 100 for the women.

 

In keeping with The Club’s objective in making golf approachable for all levels, The Horseshoe and Gold Tees do just that.  The Country Club at DC Ranch continues to be at the forefront of what a modern Club should look and feel like.  The Club continues to welcome all players of every level, while still boasting a very competitive opportunity for those with low handicaps.

 

Genuine, welcoming and warm in spirit, The Country Club at DC Ranch celebrates families and friends coming together to enjoy the best of times in a truly distinctive setting – including golf on DC Ranch’s classic course layout, redesigned by Tom Lehman and John Fought. It is one of the most classically designed courses in the Valley – resulting in a golf experience that is aesthetically more interesting and strategically more challenging.

Poised prominently on a knoll near the McDowell Mountains, The Country Club at DC Ranch’s stunning Ranch Hacienda Clubhouse, combines the most charming aspects of historic Arizona architecture with those of great Western resorts of the 1920’s and 30’s.

News

In Memoriam: Robert “Doc” Graves

Robert "Doc" Graves

All of Arizona Golf is saddened to hear of the loss of Robert “Doc” Graves this past week.

Doc began his serious involvement with the AGA in 1985 as a partner with Bob Warren and Al Potts doing the “new” Course Ratings for Arizona. The team rated two hundred courses in less than one year.

Doc, an accomplished player in his own right, then took on the Rules of Golf and very quickly became an expert. For over 30 years he worked as a volunteer with the AGA, the SW Section PGA and the Junior Golf Association. He did everything from on-course setup to starting to rulings during play.

He was known and loved by all the players and staff at our host sites. I think his favorite position was starter because he could greet and joke with the entire tournament field. He also became known as “add-two DOC” because it seemed to the players that every time he approached them on the golf course, the result was “add 2” for a penalty. If a player arrived late for his starting time and Doc administered the necessary two-stroke penalty, the aggrieved player almost always apologized with an added “Thank You” for causing Doc to be disappointed by him.

All in all, Doc Graves was the ultimate volunteer whose dedication and service was unmatched. He served on the Board of Directors of the AGA, was an Emeritus Trustee for the Pacific Coast Golf Association, and worked innumerable other collegiate, amateur and professional events. He even spent time in Taiwan and Mexico rating golf courses.

The respect and appreciation of the organizations he has served has been recognized in many ways. He was the AGA’s Volunteer of the Year in 1992. Two AGA awards now hold his name: the Doc Graves Volunteer of the Year Award and the Doc Graves Mid-Amateur Trophy. He was presented with the prestigious Dr. Ed Updegraff Award, which is the highest honor that is presented by the AGA for his demonstration of the true “Spirit of the Game” in 1999 and was inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame in 2004.

Doc was truly concerned for everyone he met, a friend to all, and an exemplary model for all to emulate.  We will miss his smile, his amazing sense of humor and his infectious laugh. We’re certain God has a special place for him in mind. We will miss him in more ways than can be described.