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Celebrities take swing for Wounded Warrior Project

Charity: Fifth annual tourney brings golfers to TPC Valencia

Posted: December 6, 2010 10:38 p.m.
Updated: December 7, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Actor Bill Smitrovich reacts after a putt at the 18th hole of the Tee It Up Show Celebrity Golf Classic at TPC Valencia on Monday.

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Every shot is a perfect shot off the tee when you’re hitting that golf ball into the fog.

That’s how Scott Williamson described his early morning workout on the driving range of the Tournament Players Club at
Valencia on Monday when he showed up for the  5th annual Tee It Up Celebrity Golf Classic.

“These are all dead perfect shots,” he said hitting the golf ball and watching it disappear deep into the fog somewhere between The Old Road and Heritage View Lane, near Valencia Boulevard.

“When I don’t have a target, I’m deadly accurate,” he said with a smile.

While dense fog may have added ambiguity to golfing efforts early on, there was little doubt in the minds of tourney players that all money raised was going to a well-deserved cause.

All tournament proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that continues to generate money and raise awareness about the injuries suffered by enlisted men and women wounded in combat.

Celebrities including Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner, former Lakers star and executive Jerry West and TV actor Alan Thicke were among those who turned up to tee off.

“We’re getting so much great support from friends and celebrities,” said tournament organizer Alan Gottfried, on-air host of the national Sunday morning radio show “Tee It Up.”

“They all came out to spend some good money,” he said of the participants.

Gottfried, a Vietnam veteran who hails from a military family, met with wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., five years ago and returned with a plan to help them.

“The Wounded Warrior Project was created by friends of the military who asked, ‘What can we do for the men and women fighting in places like Iraq and Afghanistan who are injured?’” Gottfried said.

And while many like Gottfried and his son Adam — executive producer and co-founder of the Tee It Up Radio Network — ask the same question, many more show up each year with the answer.

Several amputee golfers were among those who turned out Monday to help their wounded military friends. They also came to play a good game of golf once the fog lifted.

Jason David, a free agent with the National Football League, is one celebrity who understands the fundraising importance of celebrity golf tournaments.

David, an NFL cornerback who played three years with the Indianapolis Colts and with the New Orleans Saints in 2007, runs his own charity tournament raising money to help fight kidney disease.

“My cousin died two years ago of kidney disease,” he said Monday. “Today, I’m just happy to be here supporting this cause.”

Also helping celebrities with their game was Dawn Kline, spokeswoman for Musty Putters, a company that produces handmade custom-made wooden putters.

This year, the company donated 12 putters — retailing for about $250 each — to Monday’s tournament.

And while more than a dozen tournament golfers practiced their game on the driving range, an equal number worked on their putting at the Musty Putters kiosk.

“This way we’re able to show off our putters,” Kline explained. “We get to tell them that we custom-fit putters to the golfer and that we build the putter to fit (them) perfectly.”

Also donating to the cause Monday was a company specializing in making chairs specifically with wounded servicemen and women in mind.

Human Touch massage chairs provides “therapeutic care for servicemen and women returning home with intense physical and mental stress,” according to spokeswoman Colleen Rugg.

The 30-year-old company donated one of its therapeutic chairs called the AcuTouch 7450 Zero-Gravity Massage Chair to the tournament, bringing to 50 the number of chairs donated to military personnel.

Anyone wanting to know more about the Wounded Warrior Project can visit the organization’s website online at woundedwarriorproject.org.

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