Top Arizona pros from the PGA, LPGA, Champions and Web.com tours gave their time for a pre-tourney clinic that was one of the highlights – along with a check for $10,000 – for the Third Bi-Annual Ricki Rarick Junior Golf Benefit Tournament at Arizona National Golf Club in Tucson.
Former PGA Tour and Champions Tour professional Dan Pohl, who has a daily radio show in Phoenix on AM1060, emceed the clinic, getting help from Tour pros Tom Purtzer and Don Pooley, LPGA star Christa Johnson, teachers Tom Purtzer and Bob Gaona, and Web.com player Brian Prouty.
Pohl’s ability to work the crowd, consisting of dozens of juniors and players in the tournament, was obvious to all in attendance.
“It’s quite a talent that he has – Dan’s ability to convey the message about the golf swing is special,” said Arizona National’s General Manager Dennis Palmer.
Palmer was thrilled to have the pros – all with local ties – conducting the clinic for the tourney.
“It was really nice having the lineup that we had talking with the kids on how to improve their golf game,” he said. “When you get people like that, who have given up there time to help the kids, you have a lot of talented, special people there. Having that talent pool give up their time was invaluable.”
Palmer, Gaona and Prouty all participated in the Ricki Rarick program growing up in Tucson, while Palmer’s long career in golf, going back to his playing days at the U of A, was instrumental in getting the rest of the pros to come for the clinic.
“They’re all friends of mine, so that helped,” he said.
After an hour-and-a-half of entertainment and instruction on the practice tee, Pohl and the pros got a standing ovation from the crowd – then it was off to play in the tournament.
The five-person scramble drew 32 teams – 160 players – with each team made up of a pro, junior and three amateurs. Palmer hosted the first two in 2011 and 2013 while the GM at Tubac Resort, south of Tucson.
“This was the largest turnout in the three times we hosted it, so we were very pleased. Over the years we’ve built up a good reputation for hosting a quality event,” Palmer said. “It made it a lot easier to write the program a check for $10,000.”
The tourney was held on an Arizona National golf course that was near perfect, having rebounded from tough conditions.
“We wanted to display Arizona National,” Palmer said. “We know in the past it has suffered from a poor reputation, so we wanted to show that we’ve come back with a quality course, service and staff.”
Scores were low for the five-person scramble, with the winning team firing 20-under par, 51. The professional was former PGA Tour winner Andrew Magee, with junior golfer Desiree Hong and Larry Lippon, Joe Vujavich and Mike Guetz.
Web.com professional Prouty posted 19-under for second place with junior Bella Morales, James Friedman, Steve Laden and Don Davis. Professional Rick Price and junior Paige Valles with Josie Trapnell, Garrett Price and Kevin Duke shot 18-under, 53 to finish third.