Aussies’ Birdies for Kids raises over $1 million

A group of Australians working in golf in North Texas have found a way to show their gratitude for having the chance to work here in the United States by raising more than $1 million for junior golf and children’s charities.

“Éight years ago when we started this fundraiser, we had no idea that it would be as successful as it has become,” noted Simon Buckle, now head professional at the Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas. “We all felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to work here and simply wanted to do something to give back to the local community.”

Buckle along with Cameron McCormick, the director of instruction at Brook Hollow and Mark Harrison, who was director of operations for the Northern Texas PGA at the time but who now is the section’s executive director, attended the first meeting to discuss the concept.

They got five other Aussies–Stuart Deane, now a teaching pro at Sinclair’s Golf Training Center in Euless, Nick Griffin, now head pro at Shady Valley Golf Club in Arlington, Dean Larsson, an assistant pro at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas along with Travis Johns and Dale Gray, who have moved to other parts of the United States—involved for that first event at the Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas. The Aussies played 72 holes, raising $48,806 with pledges from family, friends, club members and companies for birdies and eagles.

Proceeds from the first two events were shared by the NTPGA Junior Golf Foundation and the Medical Center of Plano’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’s waiting room.

“Simon had seen the need for improvements to the waiting room since he and wife Molly spent a lot of time there with two premature babies.” Harrison explained.

For the 2011 event at Brook Hollow Golf Club, assistant pros Rohan Allwood of Brook Hollow, Justin Barrick of The Honors Golf Club of Dallas in Carrollton and Jeremy Langsdale of the Green Tree Country Club in Midland joined the original cast minus the two who had moved. The Aussies played 126 holes in 100-degree heat to make 217 birdies and 5 eagles, netting $143,584 to raise the eight-year total of $1,001,590.97. Sharing the funds were the NTPGA Junior Golf Foundation and  the Children’s Medical Center.

As a way of saying thanks to the Aussies, patients at Children’s Medical Center painted golf balls for them to use. “I loved using the balls,” said Griffin. “I played one round with a ball painted like a lady bug, another with a ball painted like a watermelon and another with a ball painted like a football. It was just awesome.”

Larsson added, “The thing I liked most about using these special golf balls was that you know that the kids put so much time and effort into decorating the balls for us. I have visited the hospital on several occasions, I know how sick many of these kids are, so using these awesome golf balls inspired all of us to keep making birdies.”

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