By Jessica Farrish
They may look like teams of well-dressed women having Fifty Shades of Fun on the golf course, but golfers at the annual United Way of Southern West Virginia Tee Off with the Ladies Golf Tournament are really helping the community.
Being held Monday at Black Knight Country Club after a year away, the seventh annual fundraising golf event will feature something new this year: The Caddy Auction.
“We’re trying hard not to add any new fundraisers this year, but to add some interest and fun to the events we have,” said United Way of Southern West Virginia Executive Director Margaret Ann O’Neal. “One of the committee members, Kay Bess, had been to a ladies’ event in another state, and she saw an auction.
“So she called me last year, and we just thought the caddy auction would be fun.”
Seven men — all local golfers who get to hit three different shots for their teams at the tournament — have agreed to be “auctioned off” to help out United Way.
“In (the popular novel) ‘Fifty Shades of Gray,’ they have a benefit ball, and in that benefit ball they auction off the first dance,” said O’Neal. “They auctioned off all these ladies, and when they were reading the bios for the women, they fabricated things ... they just made up all this stuff about the women.
“That’s what we’re going to do. We’re just going to make up a bunch of stuff when we read their names.
“Nobody knows that but us,” she added. “They (the caddies) don’t know.”
O’Neal said her own husband, Greg O’Neal, has agreed to participate in the auction, along with Chad Hutchinson, Will Turner, Justin Beard, Kyle Long, Chuck Cox and John Stepp.
“These are all men who play golf, so they should be able to help their team out,” she said. “We encourage the women to bring their checkbooks and credit cards and make the most of the caddy auction.”
So far, 12 teams have signed up to play.
Some fun prizes are offered, including the annual prize for the “Best Dressed Team.”
“Some years (the golfers) match from head to toe,” said O’Neal. “Sometimes, it’s a little less traditional, and one year they all wore zebra-print outfits.”
O’Neal thanked the sponsors including corporate sponsor, Lewis Automotive.
Lewis Automotive is offering a new car as a prize for a hole-in-one.
Decorations for the after-party are blue and gold, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the state.
The ladies’ golf tournament is one of United Way’s most popular fundraisers, according to O’Neal.
O’Neal said while players have a fun time socializing and golfing, the tournament is important to the community.
“The bottom line for the United Way is, people understand when they come to anything that it’s all about the fundraising for us,” she said. “We want to have fun, and want everybody to have a really good time and feel like they got their money’s worth, but all the proceeds from the golf tournament will go straight into our campaign goal.”
United Way of Southern West Virginia funds 35 local agencies on a quarterly basis and contributes to various initiatives, including those that help educate parents, feed local children, purchase diapers for babies, and educate school children.
“We could not do that if we didn’t have events like ladies’ golf and if people weren’t good sports to come out and participate,” said O’Neal.
Tee Off with The Ladies Golf Tournament starts at 10:30 a.m. Monday.
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