Celebrities swing for charity at Greywalls

Jon Young

Last year’s inaugural U.P. Celebrity Golf Classic was a hit, this year it’s back and even bigger as the number of teams and celebrity participants has more then doubled from a year ago.

72 teams will play 18 holes each on either the Greywalls or Heritage golf courses.

Teams will consist of four players, representing their respective sponsor and one celebrity.

Teams will pick their celebrity the night before the golf outing at the match party hosted at L’Attitude. The event will be catered by Elizabeth’s Chophouse.

Director of Development Mary Dowling said the celebs names are placed in a clear tub, making it easier to see who you’re picking.

“So if they want to pick Jim McMahon or Jay Feely they can kind of see who’s in there, so you pick out who you want,” Dowling said. “The more you pay the better chance you’ll have of playing with a really big celebrity, so at the end of the day we’ll match up all those teams with a celebrity and away we go.”

McMahon, former quarterback of the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears and Feely who still plays for the Arizona Cardinals will be amongst last years celebrities returning.

Dowling credits NMU alum and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci, who acts as the host and presenting sponsor, with bringing star power to the event.

Mariucci, an Iron Mountain native said he likes to support the Beacon House because of it’s impact on the area.

“The Beacon House is a shining star in Marquette,” Mariucci said. “I just thought that of all the charities that are very worth while to support, and there are many, that the Beacon House is really important and near and dear to the Upper Peninsula’s heart, so I love supporting it.”

All of last years notable celebrities are expected to return such as: former Detroit Piston Rick Mahorn, Olympic snowboarder Nick Baumgartner, former University of Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and current NBA guard Roger Mason, Jr.

This year also might feature a few new faces as the invitation has been sent out to Kevin Costner and Detroit Lions stars Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford.

Mariucci is also working on getting NMU alum and current Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo to make an appearance.

“I’m working on it, he’s got a very busy schedule at that time and so he was unable to come up last year but I’m trying to pull out all my recruiting skills to get him up here to enjoy some of it,” Mariucci said.

Dowling said former NMU president Les Wong will also be teeing-off with interim president David Haynes.

“I’m very excited, he said it will be the last event he plays before he goes to San Francisco which is a bummer but David Haynes is coming to play as well, this is the first time we’ve had two presidents play at the same time.”

All the proceeds from the event go to help fund the Beacon House, which costs around $350,000 a year to operate.

After expenses were paid the fundraiser cleared $55,000 for the Beacon House last year, a number Dowling expects to top this year.

Dowling said Mariucci’s wanted to make the event bigger after last year’s success and his generosity is key to it’s success.

“I can’t even tell you how helpful it is to have Steve as the presenting sponsor,” Dowling said. “He wrote a big beautiful check for us, for some of the expenses that by doubling the size we were going to incur, so that all the money would go right to the charity.”

Not all celebrities in attendance plan on golfing, some Packers players choose to ride around with Mariucci, who also won’t be swinging any clubs.

“I don’t golf,” Mariucci said. “I get around the course, meet everybody, talk to everybody, take some photos and have some fun. I think my time is better served kind of as a person who gets around and sees everyone rather then golf with four other guys the entire day.”

The event doesn’t simply benefit the Beacon House; it also brings money into the Marquette community.

Former Packers wide receiver Robert Brooks plans on participating in the golf activities but also plans on bringing his entire family up for a week.

The golfing gets underway at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 28 at Greywalls and Heritage golf courses.

“Marquette can really put its best foot forward, start with Greywalls, which is one of the very best golf courses in this country and there’s so much more to see and do in Marquette,” Mariucci said.

For more information on the event, visit www.upbeaconhouse.org.