It is often said that Marco Island is a very special place. Those who have crossed over the Marco River on the Judge Jolley Bridge often speak about how they fell in love with the most northern of the Ten Thousand Islands.
Some refer to the pristine white sands of the beach that the Calusa Native Americans found to be very special going back 6000 years to its earliest inhabitants. The shell mounds, pineapple farms, the abundant oyster beds and thriving species of birds and other wildlife certainly created a special place where man and nature have a special bond.
If we fast forward to modern–day Marco Island, we come to the wonderful contributions by those who came here more recently. One of the attractions that some find especially beckoning is the Island Country Club here on Marco. Yes, the facilities are wonderful, as are the management and staff who create a special bond with their members and the community.
However, today’s membership at the Island Club has taken on the responsibility to continue the task of “building a better way of life where needs exist.” That was the philosophy of Gene Sarazen, the professional golfer who fondly became known as “The Squire” throughout the golfing world, and who made the Island Club his home course for many years. Sarazen created what was known as the Gene and Mary Sarazen Foundation to help his desire and philosophy continue until his passing in 1999.
Even though he only stood 5’5” tall, he was a giant in the golfing world, having won 38 PGA Tour victories and awarded numerous honors throughout his lifetime. His achievements included his famous “double eagle” at the 1935 Masters Tournament, which made him a legend in the annals of golf history.
Wes Blackwell, with other members of the Island Club, established what is known today as the Island Club Charitable Foundation, continuing Sarazen’s philosophy of giving back to the community and assisting those in need.
Over the years since its establishment, the Foundation has made over $2,000,000 in contributions to over 50 worthy local charities. The yearly golf tournament held last Sunday is the major fundraiser for those efforts.
Gary Landis announced that in 2021, the Foundation would be focusing on issues such as feeding the hungry, health care projects and educational requirements for children. “These are especially important to us due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus,” said Landis.
Winning the tournament was a foursome comprised of Jim Turkiewicz, Richard Rogers, Mark Torchia and Glenn Cook—they scored a 56 for the 18 holes. Second and right behind them were Walt Nugent, Jim Mogan, Tim Conroy and David Knudson with a score of 57.
Numerous silent and live auction items were bid on and there was a 50-50 drawing as well, pushing the group past their goal for the day.