Putting to benefit others as part of United Way's 'Final Lap'
By Renee Carey
Published in News on December 2, 2007 2:00 AM
They suffered all sorts of setbacks.
Runaway balls, itsy bitsy putters and unruly spectators -- and competitors.
But in the end, skill and determination helped the City of Goldsboro team take home the title at the first-ever United Way Greater Wayne County Golf Classic.
Well, that, and Mayor Al King's $50 fee that allowed him to cut 15 points off his team's score.
More than 100 people turned out Friday night to brave cool weather at the All Stars Family Fun Center for the event, which pitted teams from the city, Wayne County Board of Education and the Waylin Foundation of Mount Olive.
In addition to the golfers themselves, each team had a junior caddy from one of the Wayne County Schools.
All were there to help raise funds for the Final Lap challenge for the United Way, which is trying to close the books on its 2007 campaign with a push to raise the more than $40,000 it will need to reach its $1.4 million goal.
The money, organizers said, will allow the organization to fund agencies and programs that will improve the lives of more than 29,200 Wayne County residents.
United Way Executive Director Steve Parr directed those present Friday to have a good time and -- to "remember why we are here."
"This is what it is all about," he said. "Getting together to raise money to take care of our community."
And while the mission might have been serious, the competition, which was covered in play-by-play fashion by WGBR's Wayne Alley, was anything but.
King, who seemed determined to coach his team to a victory, spent most of his evening cheering on Sam Taylor, Keith Smith, Allen Anderson and his son, Christian, and Ray Fields.
The mayor even bid -- against himself -- up to $100 from an initial $65 high bid to get Christian to play a hole -- his version of a ringer.
The 8-year-old, humble after his attempt at stardom, said he had been around the course a few times.
"I like it," he said.
The team's caddy, Cullen Tyndall of Eastern Wayne Elementary School, kept his team steady as they moved swiftly through the challenges, which included handicaps like mini-putters and $2 for lost penalty strokes.
In the meantime, the mayor spent his evening keeping watch on his fellow teammates -- and the competition.
He was particularly concerned about the Wayne County Board of Education team, which included Sprunt Hill, special assistant to the superintendent for auxiliary services, and board members Thelma Smith and Dave Thomas, along with school district public relations director Ken Derksen.
"You know those Board of Education people," King said. "They use that fuzzy math."
The team kept its caddy, Isaiah Greene of School Street Elementary, busy -- especially when Derksen, one of the first on the green, mistook a nearby bush for a hole.
"I am never going to live this down," he said.
After a particularly difficult time trying to get her ball to the hole, Mrs. Smith added a new dimension to her game when she managed to get her shot nearest the pin.
They called it the Thelma Smith Wiggle -- club in the air and body in motion.
King called it "excessive celebration."
By far the most determined team, however, was the Mount Olive crew, which silently moved across the course, racking up points, holes in one and confidence.
That was the plan for Lynn Williams, Stephanie Kornegay, Chris Pate and Susan James -- concentration.
"We are taking this very seriously," she said, a no-nonsense look on her face. "That is our strategy, to stay under the radar and to get the job done."
Caddy Kaitlyn Williams spent her time recording her team's success and making sure her mom filled in the card properly.
It did not matter who took home the prize in the end -- although the city of Goldsboro team will probably have the trophy displayed in city hall Monday.
More than $575 was raised for the United Way effort.
The organization's Final Lap challenges will end this week with a death-defying ride by Campaign Chairman Jimmie Ford.
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