2018 CVS Charity Classic: An event like no other

Lexi Thompson, with nine career victories is ranked No. 5 in the world, signed dozens of autographs at the CVS Health Charity Classic held June 23 at Rhode Island Country Club.

BARRINGTON, Rhode Island – Recently I had the pleasure of covering the 2018 CVS Charity Classic at Rhode Island Country Club. It was an amazing experience. From the five-star clubhouse to the picture-perfect grounds to the A-list of pros participating, this was a first-class event.

The tournament itself was comprised of three person teams each consisting of an LPGA pro, a PGA pro, and a Champions Tour Pro. For those keeping track, the team of Brooke Henderson, Billy Andrade, and Keegan Bradley managed to charge ahead on the back 9 to win for the second year in a row. Mr. Bradley now has four consecutive wins in this 20-year old charity event that has raised millions for Rhode Island non-profits.

The rest of the team rosters read like a who’s who of professional golf. Christie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Lexi Thompson, So Yeon Ryu and Morgan Pressel represented women’s golf in a marvelous manner. The men featured household names such as Colin Montgomerie, Billy Horschel, Jim Furyk, Mark O’Meara, and Rory McIlroy, the No. 6 ranked player in the world and the undisputed star of the day.

Jim Furyk, 2018 Ryder Cup Captain, seen here with New England dot Golf writer Gregg Ford.

Despite the list of golf royalty present, the day was never about the names involved, or the tournament itself. From the No. 1 and No. 3 female golfers in the world all the way down to the volunteers picking up trash afterwards, as well as this golf writer, we were all there for charity.

No sport can hold a candle to golf when it comes to giving back to local communities in the form of charity. And nowhere has this been on better display than at the CVS Charity Classic. Over the last 20 years, CVS President Larry Merlo, Brad Faxon, and many others have put this event together and helped raise over $20 million for local charities! A tip of the cap to you gentlemen.

As I made my way around the course following a few groups, one particular aspect of this event stood out to me above the rest. Having the opportunity to meet a favorite athlete is always special, especially for younger kids. Getting an autograph can often ignite a spark in a child that will lead to a lifelong devotion to a particular sport. I remember building my collection as a youngster and I cherish those times when I was able to actually get close enough to get a signature or photo.

The winning team at the 2018 CVS Health Charity Classic (l-r) Billy Andrade, CVS President Larry Merlo, Brooke Henderson and Keegan Bradley.

Due to the nature of the event, and the smaller gallery sizes (as compared to regular tour stops), the afternoon at R.I.C.C. on June 23 was filled with special moments and memories being made all over the property, which offers some magnificent views of the ocean.

I watched Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson stop on nearly every hole to accommodate every child asking for photos and autographs. The humility and grace these ladies displayed was incredible. As I stood at the 15 th tee box, Lexi went to her bag, pulled out a glove, signed the palm and handed it to the young lady standing next to me. Seeing the pure joy and excitement on the girl’s face nearly moved me to tears. And, as she turned to her father and said “Daddy, it fits me!” the day took on a new meaning for me.

Yes, CVS, the sponsors, players and fans were all there for charity. Being able to help people through golf has always been, and will always be my favorite thing about this great game. But seeing the faces of the kids light up when they snapped a cell-phone picture with one of their golf heroes was priceless.

Charity is all about giving your time, talents, or treasures to others and the CVS Health Charity Classic has been a successful model for 20 years. All money raised from the event, after expenses, was donated to local charities. The PGA and LPGA golfers in attendance gave once-in-a-lifetime memories to young fans, making dreams come true. All of the event organizers and volunteers gave their valuable time to make it all happen.

Golf is a very generous game when it comes to helping out in our local communities, raising substantial amounts of money through local and professional tournaments, and the CVS Charity Classic is a tournament like no other.


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