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Golf tourney raises funds for KDMC Foundation

He doesn’t golf anymore. That may not be a bad thing.

Mike Whatley has sponsored a team in the four-man scramble golf tournament hosted by the King’s Daughters Medical Center Foundation every year since he moved to Brookhaven 12 years ago. Health concerns keep him off the green these days, and he suspects the men from Mike Whatley Honda who join his team and swing in his stead are probably relieved.

“Because I’m not worth a darn,” Whatley said. “They don’t have to carry me anymore.”

All types of players — from scratch golfers who can hit par on any course, to backyard hacks digging holes in the dirt with bad strokes — will compete in the hospital’s 2018 tournament on June 1 at the Brookhaven Country Club. The object isn’t necessarily to play good golf, but rather to “golf for a cause” in one of the KDMC Foundation’s biggest fundraisers.

“It’s a fun time. No pressure on anybody,” said foundation chairman Jeff Richardson. “There will be low handicap golfers, and folks whose handicap doesn’t even show up on the numerical scale.” 

The annual tournament has grown into an all-day affair with two tee times. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and the morning round of four-man scramble begins at 8 a.m. The morning teams finishing up will join the afternoon teams just checking in for lunch around noon, and the afternoon tee time is 1 p.m.

The tournament is expected to wrap up at 5 p.m. with scorecards tallied and winners announced. Prizes will be awarded to both morning and afternoon groups.

Richardson said around 80 sponsors are supporting this year’s tournament, which has signed up 140 players on 35 teams coming in from New Orleans to North Mississippi. The afternoon group is booked up, but a few team spots remain open for the morning session.

Anyone interested in forming a team, or anyone interested in playing but needs additional members, should contact Richardson at 601-835-7900. Team fees are $500, hole sponsorships are $150 and the foundation accepts donations from non-golfers who just want to support KDMC.

Richardson said all net proceeds from the tournament go to the foundation, which supports the hospital by funding capital improvements.

The foundation donated more than $115,000 to KDMC in February for the installation of a new infant security system, and last October the foundation paid for the construction of the Willing Hearts Memorial Garden, a quiet place for reflection built in memory of Willing Hearts members. In 2016, the foundation gave $225,000 for the construction of a new endoscopy suite with new equipment, built by renovating underused space at the hospital.

“We’re on pace this year to surpass our internal budget, so that’s a positive thing,” Richardson said. “Our corporate sponsors have really responded well this year.”

Richardson said there are no construction wants or needs on the hospital’s wish list right now, but the foundation has an open offer to all department heads to put in requests for upgrades — the infant security system was purchased that way, starting as a single question and a little discussion after a board meeting.

The foundation will review capital needs later this summer.