Lions gearing up to Golf-for-Sight

Ray Byers hits a chip shot during the Golf-for-Sight outing in 2019 as teammate Jack Musser looks on.

The Tellico Village Lions Club’s 21st annual Golf-for-Sight outing is nearly here, and members are hoping for a big turnout to serve the community.

The fundraiser is 9 a.m. May 15 at Toqua Golf Course. The rain date is May 22.

“I just think everybody has a great time,” Larry Elder, club president, said. “I mean we have a lot of prizes that we give away, we have a nice lunch and it’s just a great time for golfers and for the Village. Villagers support it, which is the golfers, and then the businesses. What I was surprised at, all these small businesses have been hit really hard with COVID over the last year, so we actually were thinking we’d probably not even come close to what we did before in prior years on our donations. We have approximately 56 sponsors of businesses in and around Loudon and going over to Knoxville.

“We normally would have somewhere from 48 to 52 — this year we’ve ended up with 56 sponsors and looks like those sponsors have donated through sponsorship $15,600,” he added. “I mean that’s more than we’ve collected ever.”

This year’s format will be foursomes with all male, all female or mixed. Subsidiary contests like the hole-in-one, longest drive, most accurate drive and closest to the pin will be available.

Participants will be able to hire a pro to make a shot for them, and multiple mulligans will be for sale to offset errant shots. A continental breakfast and lunch will also be provided, with COVID-19 health protocols in place.

“I think it’s just we are in Tellico Village, which is pretty much a golfing community,” Howard Higby, golf event coordinator, said. “There’s a lot of golfers here and they like playing in these events, especially when they support a charity like the Lions. Every year it’s been pretty much a sellout of the 30 teams in the tournament. Particularly with COVID now, people are looking for outside exercise and things to do and golf is one of those.”

Although still early, Higby expects the tournament to fill up again as the date inches closer.

Funds raised will go toward club service activities in the community, including monthly health fairs at Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County and Good Shepherd Center in Madisonville. During health fairs, members offer blood pressure checks, glucose level tests and vision screenings. The club also has an optometrist on board for visitors who need glasses and meet U.S. poverty guidelines. Those who aren’t qualified are instructed to visit an eye doctor for further testing and purchase of glasses.

“All the money that’s raised on this event goes toward our eye screenings that we conduct in the Loudon County schools and day care centers,” Elder said. “Every year we screen all the students in the school systems and the day care centers, and the equipment we use for cameras and other things. We do monthly health screenings at Good Samaritan Center in Lenoir City and for those we test people for blood pressure and diabetes and eyes. Of course, normally blindness comes for diabetes. If you have diabetes there’s a good chance you could lose your eye sight, so that’s the reason we test for diabetes. We also do eye screenings and health screenings over in Madisonville. ... We feel there’s a real need to support that area so we do the eye screenings over there also.”

Elder said the program costs about $26,000 a year.

“As you can see, this Golf-for-Sight scramble actually funds the majority of that cost,” he said. “Now we have two other events, our chili/soup dinner and our Oktoberfest in the fall, and those make up the difference. What we make up from those two events make up the difference. But this is our largest fundraiser so it’s critical that this is successful, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to carry on this.”

Team entry forms are available at all clubhouses. For more information, contact Higby at 458-9356 or h-m-bowl@charter.net.

For sponsorship information, contact Elder at 865-657-9722 or lelder49@gmail.com.

“What I think it speaks to is the residents and golfers willing to support our Lions Club and also the fact that we go after sponsors, we solicit sponsors and consistently over the last 6-7 years the number of sponsors continues to increase for donations and the amount of we collect continues to increase,” Elder said. “If we weren’t getting the golfers to support it and the Villagers to support and the local businesses in and around Loudon County to support it we wouldn’t be able to have it.”