St. George – It’s time for the 5th annual Jeff Whittier Memorial Golf Tournament, which will take place on Saturday, July 4 at the St. George Golf Club. This is a four-person scramble format, at a cost of $40 per golfer, with plenty of great prizes to be won. There will be prizes for the top three teams, and also for those who are closest to the pins, as well as other prizes.

Organizer Stephanie Tinker-Kinney said things are going to look a bit different for the tournament this year, in several ways. Social distancing will need to be considered, and instead of an on-site auction, this year the auction will be held online so anyone can take part and bid on items. Due to COVID-19, it wasn’t known if the tournament could even be held, but with things opening back up and people being able to get together in small groups now, the tournament is a go for this weekend.

“We weren’t sure if we were even going to be able to have it but fortunately but with setting up tee times, we’re able to keep social distancing and follow all provincial regulations. Now, we have more participants than we’ve had any other year, 34 teams of four,” said Tinker-Kinney.

Tinker-Kinney said the tournament is in memory of a good friend who passed away from lung cancer at the young age of 37. The first year the tournament was held, his friends were simply looking for a way to get together and do something in Whittier’s honor. She said it “just kind of escalated from there”.

“Once we started getting major sponsors, it’s easy to build the tournament every year,” she said.

Participants have a chance to snag some pretty great prizes this year. The par 3 prize is a Rav 4 from Saint John Toyota, who Tinker-Kinney said have sponsored the tournament every year since they started having it. Other sponsors include JDS Financial (Jeff Scammell) offers a $10,000 hole-in-one prize, and it is also a memorial hole for Scammell’s brother. Other prizes include gift cards, a golf club membership, and a Texas mickey. So far, there are 84 holes that are sponsored, so players have an excellent chance of bringing home some sort of prize.

All money raised from this tournament is donated to various organizations within Charlotte County. The organizers try to switch up the charities each year, but one they always give a large donation to is Charlotte County Cancer, which is their biggest donation. They also include a charity for animals, because Whittier was a “big advocate for animals”.

“We’ve donated over $50,000 at this point,” said Tinker-Kinney. “Last year was our biggest year. I think we made $18,000 to donate last year. We made $23,000, but of course it costs a lot of money. It does cost a lot because we do run it like it’s a competitive tournament, but it’s fun.”

One thing that is different this year is the online auction. In past years, there has been an on-site auction, but they decided to do things differently this year in light of COVID-19. Now, it will be an online auction, and anyone can go onto the Facebook event page to place bids. There are plenty of great items to be auctioned off, including 70 pounds of lobster and 40 pounds of salmon. There are also loads of gift cards from various Charlotte County businesses, a bag from Top Sail Canvas, admission passes to Huntsman Marine, and many more.

“I’ll have it posted right on the event page and then it will be public. I’m going to open it up the first of this week.”

There is still time to book your team to play in the Jeff Whittier Memorial Golf Tournament. Tinker-Kinney said she is going to keep taking registrations right up until the day of the tournament. The first tee-off is at 7:30 a.m., and there are tee-offs every 10 to 12 minutes until 1 p.m. She said as long as she can bring teams in, she will stay there all day if necessary.

“Normally I’m booked out pretty quick. Last year, I think I had 15 teams pre-registered on the day of the event for this year. It’s a really fun day for everyone involved, and it’s a good reason for Jeff’s friends to get together. I can pretty well safely say that it’s the biggest tournament in Charlotte County. People come back every year.”

If you are interested in putting a four-person team together for the 5th Annual Jeff Whittier Memorial Golf Tournament, you can contact Tinker-Kinney on Facebook, or call her at 754-5695.