Lights, camera, action!
The Celebrity Players Tour rolled into East Haddam this July as the Oral B Pulsar Ahmad Rashad Celebrity Classic was conducted at Fox Hopyard Golf Club.
Several thousand fans watched as sports stars and celebrities from the film and entertainment industries battled it out for a $30,000 top prize in a two-day, two-man best ball format July 23 and 24.
The tournament capped off a weeklong series of events that included banquets and a celebrity pro-am Thursday and Friday at Fox Hopyard. The tourney benefited the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Ahmad Rashad, a former star wide receiver in the National Football League and now an acclaimed NBA talk show host and analyst, came on board to headline the tournament this year.
“It was a blast to be a part of the event and lend my name to it,” said Rashad. “I was asked by my friend (tournament director and Pub Links Golfer Magazine publisher) Tom Landers if I would consider putting my name on the event and it seemed the right thing to do.”
He continued, “The tournament is so well run and gets better each year. I’m really glad I got involved and we’re going to work to make it even better next year.”
Some of the most fun had came during the two-day celebrity pro-am, a five-player scramble format where sports legends and celebrities mingled with their amateur partners.
Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Sun Casino, a major sponsor of the event, thoroughly enjoyed his round with baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.
“He was my childhood hero and to be playing golf with him here was amazing,” said Etess. “The Mohegan Sun is proud to be a part of the tournament and we want to see it get better and better. I know all the casino workers and our customers really enjoy having the tournament so close by.”
The tournament drew some of the CPT’s big names, including actor/comedienne Bill Murray and actor Joe Pesci & John O’Hurley. Former professional athletes taking part in addition to Rashad and Bench included NHL great Pierre Larouche, NBA stars Charles Barkley, George Gervin & Clyde Drexler and NFL Hall of Famer Marcus Allen.
The CPT, which consists of around 10 tournaments a year, was organized in 1997 to bring together former athletes from the four major sports and entertainers for friendly competition. The Tour also serves as a corporate hospitality vehicle and has raised more then $3 million each year for charitable causes, many of which focus on the needs of children.
This year’s tournament was won by former NHL defenseman Darren Vietch and former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon, who captured the event for the second time in three years and split the $30,000 first place check. The duo beat NHL players Don Edwards and Eddie Westfall in a three-hole playoff after both teams finished tied at 10-under-par 132.
Some of the biggest buzz during the weekend tourney came when Barkley, a less than accomplished although dedicated golfer, moved onto the leader board with his partner Sean Pfister, 2-Time Re-Max World Long Drive Champion, for a while.
“Seeing Charles’ name on the leader board for the first time was worth being a part of this event and being here,” laughed Rashad.
Said Pesci, “This is a first class event and very well run. I had a blast coming here and taking part in all the events and visiting the casino, which is super.”
Landers, who was ably assisted by a number of individuals, including Fox Hopyard director of golf, Ron Beck and his staff, was thrilled with the turnout of stars and fans.
“Everything went well. The course was in great shape and Ron and his staff did a tremendous job helping run the event. We got a great turnout of celebrities and I can’t say enough about our sponsors, from Oral B Pulsar and the Mohegan Sun to the companies that advertised in our tournament brochure. And our volunteers did a great job”. He added, “We are already making plans for next year’s event, which we plan to hold at Fox Hopyard once again. This has been a wonderful venue for the tournament.”