Jim’s Notebook: Arkansas Legislators Vie in ‘Ryder Cup’ At First Tee

Now that the all-spring legislative business is well in their rearview mirrors, Arkansas House members can take their combative natures to the golf course for a little fun while they benefit The First Tee of Central Arkansas.

Next Thursday, July 18, nine House Democrats and nine House Republicans will do battle in a Ryder Cup-style format for the right to have the first claim on the Speaker’s Cup trophy. The event is being dubbed The First Tee Arkansas House of Representatives Classic.

Former First Tee chairman Darrin Williams, a House Democrat who was the initial chairman of The First Tee’s five-year “Put It on the Green” fund-raising program, helped put together the event along with Frank Thomas of Stephens Inc. and First Tee’s executive director, Cory Biggs.

The legislators will compete over 27 holes starting at 9 a.m. in various team and individual match-play formats, similar to the U.S-European Ryder Cup. Biggs said the public is welcome to attend (and heckle, if they want) the competing golfers on Thursday.

For the participants, the event kicks off with a private dinner that includes the six sponsors underwriting the event: the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Comcast, East-Harding Construction, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, Noble Strategies and the Mitchell Williams law firm in Little Rock. The proceeds will benefit the youth development programs of The First Tee of Central Arkansas, located just south of Colonel Glenn Road and University Avenue.

Davy Carter, the House Speaker, will captain the Republicans. Williams, who was House Speaker-elect before the most recent session and before the Republicans gained a slight edge in the house at the polls, will lead the Democrats.

Carter’s team also includes John Burris, Micah Neal, Kelley Linck, Bruce Cazort, Andy Davis, Gary Deffenbaugh, Mark Lowery and Mark Biviano.

Williams will be joined on the Democratic side by Nate Steel, Harold Copenhaver, George McGill, Greg Leding, Mark Perry, Chris Richey, Tommy Thompson and Wes Wagner.

Although the final format of play hasn’t been nailed down as of this writing, Biggs said that likely the Ryder Cup-style singles match play matches would be contested over the nine hole Chairman’s course after lunch Thursday. Then the Speaker’s Cup will be presented and will stay in the House Chamber “where the winners will have bragging rights,” Biggs said. The morning session will use both the regulation size Chairman’s nine and the par-3 Honors course.

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CAMPS FILLING UP: First Tee has already had three camps of 50-plus kids each this summer, with just two more remaining. The next camp, starting July 24, has a waiting list. There are about 10 spots remaining for the last camp of the summer, set for Aug. 6-9.

Cost to First Tee members is $85; $125 for non-members for the four-day camp, which includes instruction and fun golf-related games to keep the children interested. The camps run from 9 a.m. to noon. Tuesday through Friday.

Call 562-4653 (562-GOLF) to enroll or for more information, or visit the chapter’s website.

Also, The First Tee is looking for 18 to 36 able-bodied adults to participate in its annual Golf Marathon, scheduled for late September. The participants would see pledges (for example, 10 cents a hole from each donor) and play as many holes as they wanted over a full day. Call 562-4653 for more information.

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