There were lots of high-fives when Nic Fanocvic of Desert Arc chipped his ball up onto the green of the third hole of the historic Sunnylands golf course. Teammate Damion Hayes got some useful tips on getting his ball out of the bunker from coach Ken Harrison and Maya Jones, 12, of The First Tee.
Nic and Damion were among the 27 Desert Arc clients enjoying a morning of golf as part of a three-day community golf event at the historic estate. Each of the nine teams was accompanied by a junior golfer from The First Tee and adult volunteers. Desert Arc seeks to enhance the quality of life and provide opportunities for people with disabilities through vocational training, employment opportunities, and independent living support.
The morning started with a golf clinic and demonstration on the Sunnylands driving range led by famed golfer Al Geiberger and his two sons, Allen, Jr. and Bryan. Geiberger is known for being the first golfer to shoot 59 in a PGA Tour tournament round. He and his sons are known throughout the Coachella Valley as “Team Geiberger” and, in addition to teaching, are involved with La Quinta Resort groups and PGA WEST club. Bryan explained that when doing a clinic, the Geiberger philosophy is “to keep it simple and fun for everyone.”
The Desert Arc clients, volunteers, and coaches enjoyed a couple of hours of golf and returned to Sunnylands Center & Gardens for lunch and an awards ceremony. They were greeted by Geoffrey Cowan, then-president of The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, who said, “Many U.S. Presidents and international leaders have played here as have famous performers, but never has the course been better used than it was today.”
Special guest, Leonore Deshong, a granddaughter of Walter and Leonore Annenberg and a Sunnylands trustee, met with all of today’s golfers and assisted at the award ceremony. She said, “My grandmother would be so proud. This is what they envisioned for Sunnylands; for the community to come out and enjoy it.”
The event marked the fourth year that Desert Arc and The First Tee have worked together on a golf tournament. According to Gillian Jones, a volunteer and Maia’s mother, “This is one of our favorite events and a great way to finish up the golfing season.” It is the second of three community events to be held at the Sunnylands golf course.Yesterday a group from The First Tee played the course in a junior scramble. On Thursday, combat veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will take to the course after a Flag Day ceremony.
Perhaps the day was best summed up by The First Tee golfer Nick Marshall, 13, “I never thought I’d play any place so big as Sunnylands. It was like playing in the Masters!”