Coronavirus sends fundraising golf tourneys into bunkers

Drive for Hope, All Abilities forced to cancel
Sue Eber Jpg

LA CROSSE, Wis. – The COVID-19 pandemic shanked two golf fundraisers into the rough, but one is claiming a mulligan for next summer, and the other one probably will.
The 13th annual Sue Eber Memorial Drive for Hope, which would have teed off in a scramble format at the La Crosse Country Club in Onalaska on June 1, is a Gundersen Medical Foundation event that attracts hundreds of golfers from the Coulee Region and beyond to raise money for lung cancer research.
The All Abilities Charity Golf Scramble, which would have sent golf carts scrambling across Forest Hills Golf Course in La Crosse in August, would have been the third annual tourney to raise money for the All Abilities Trane Park Project in La Crosse.
Even though Gov. Tony Evers lifted the ban on golfing Thursday when he revised his Safer at Home order, the eased golf restrictions are not conducive to tournament play. Such events pivot in part on bantering about bogeys and bragging about birdies.
The governor’s order stipulates that golf courses “may open again, with restrictions including scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed.”
So much for reliving great shots and lamenting lousy ones while slaking thirsts at the 19th hole.
“With so many uncertainties … the foundation has determined that it should be canceled. There are too many pieces that do not fit together,” said Laura Eber, who chairs the Drive for Hope tourney named in honor of her late mother-in-law.
“Drive for Hope is a legacy — not only to raise money for research and raise awareness — but there also is a huge social aspect to it for many of us, including for the golfers and the sponsors who send a team to golf,” Eber said. “The competition, the heckling, the hole games, etc.”
Last year, the Drive for Hope raised nearly $40,000 for cancer research.
The All Abilities Trane Park Steering Committee faced the same conundrum — even with the event scheduled for August. The pandemic and financial uncertainty surrounding propelled the committee to cancel that scramble, too, said committee president Francis Formanek.
“It is our feeling that the economic climate could put an undue hardship for our past participants, businesses and sponsors to participate,” Formanek said.
“So with this in mind, this year’s event is postponed,” he said, adding that the committee will revisit the issue in January to determine whether to schedule a tournament in 2021.
Drive for Hope organizers already have teed up June 7 for next year’s scramble, with Eber saying, “As sad as I am, it is a slight relief to know that we can really whoop it up for next year’s event.”