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Photos and Text by Breeana Greenberg
Nearly 200 golfers on Monday, June 13, participated in the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group’s (DPSG) annual combat golf tournament, the support group’s largest fundraising event of the year.
Funds raised from the tournament go toward the support group’s general fund to aid in the DPSG’s mission to support active-duty military, their families, and those who have been wounded, DPSG Director of Community Events Patti Short said.
A tournament usually consists of 144 golfers; however, the support group allowed an additional 16 golfers to participate thanks to the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club staff, Short said. The tournament sold out with 160 participants this year.
“It’s a great event,” Dana Point City Councilmember Jamey Federico said. “Well-run, well- supported and great that our community shows their support for the Marines and families.”
The scramble-format golf tournament features unique challenges, such as wearing a helmet and flak jacket at one of the holes and avoiding “land mines” or face a penalty stroke.
One hole was manned with volunteers serving cocktails. Coolers filled with water and soft drinks were scattered throughout the course, but some were booby-trapped. If players opened a cooler that said “kaboom,” then they had to add another penalty stroke. At another hole, golfers had to avoid snipers decked in ghillie suits.
“The flak vest is one of our favorites, because it teaches the golfers to take the right stance, because they’ve got so much weight on them that they have to keep their eye on the ball,” past DPSG President Mike Lipscombe said.
Marines participating in the tournament played for free through the “sponsor a Marine” fundraising.
At 5 p.m., the Dana Point 5th Marines Support Group held its helicopter ball drop, a raffle-style giveaway for prizes. Thirteen hundred numbered golf balls, which participants could purchase for $13 each, were dropped out of a helicopter, and the first one to land in a hole on the 18th fairway won $2,600.
Since the 13th annual tournament landed on June 13, DPSG centered its theme around the number 13.
“We decided to do a little bit of wordplay with 13,” Short said. “Everything was multiples of 13. The entrance fee was $260, golf balls were $13 a piece, $2,600 (prize).”
Following the tournament and ball drop, the support group held a dinner and ceremony, giving awards for the winning teams, longest drives, and “closest to the pin.”
The fee for the golf tournament included coffee, golf, lunch and dinner, as well as a swag bag with a shirt, sunscreen and golf balls.
“The funds are raised to go into our general fund to do a number of things,” Short said. “We support the Marines, sailors and family. When they’re deployed, we will package goodie packages to send out.”
The support group also throws baby showers for families expecting, and offers camp and scholarship programs to sponsor children to go to camp and spouses to be able to take classes, Short said.
“We have events when they deploy; we usually have a deployment farewell,” Short said. “As they’re getting ready to get on a bus or a plane, we’ll go out with coffee and snacks and lunches and stuff. And then when they come home, we do a welcome home.”
In addition to the farewell and welcome-home events, the support group hosts a Halloween Trunk or Treat parade in which volunteers dress up and hand out candy to kids, as well as a Christmas party in which the DPSG distributes donated gifts to families.
The Combat Golf Tournament is the DPSG’s s biggest fundraising event of the year, bringing out many community members, sponsors, and Marines for the charitable event.
“It’s a community event,” Lipscombe said. “Our sponsors love to come here, they love to play golf, they love to spend time with the Marines and ask them questions. … We’ve got a great community that really does support us, which is unique.”
While the DPSG begins to plan for next year’s Combat Golf Tournament, the support group will serve as concessionaires for beer and wine at upcoming Dana Point Summer Concerts to continue to raise funds to support Marines and their families.
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org