Desert Bash a big hit

July 22, 2013 

It was 97 degrees Monday when the second round of Olie and Stu’s Desert Bash teed off at Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland.

While tournament co-founder Olie Kolzig was wearing a cool light blue shirt, he chided Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price for wearing a black shirt.

“It’s going to be hot,” said Price, whose Kadlec Medical Center team was in first place after the opening round Sunday and held on for the win Monday. “Olie was teasing me about the color selection of my shirt. I was just trying to support the foundation (he pointed to the tournament logo on the shirt) and be a good guy.”

Kolzig, co-founder Stu Barnes and Price were the only celebrities on hand for the event, which scaled back on high profile players this year to cut expenses and put more money into the Carson Kolzig Foundation, which helps fund the Responding to Autism Center in Kennewick.

“It has actually been going really well,” said Kolzig, who was getting in a few practice swings before the second round with his U.S. Bank team. “The round of golf yesterday (Sunday) only took 4 hours. We didn’t know how this would affect the auction. We invited people who didn’t necessarily want to play golf, but they came to the dinner and had access to bidding. We had half as many people as last year and we raised more.”

According to Kellee Balcom of the Carson Kolzig Foundation, the auction raised 15-20 percent more than last year.

“Though that in itself is great,” Balcom wrote in an email, “what we are truly inspired by is the fact that we underwrote services for approximately 200 kids (nearly $60,000) to benefit children and families with autism — which is over a 61 percent increase in support.”

The Responding to Autism Center website will have a place where interested parties can register to sponsor a child. Autism therapy and treatments can cost a family upwards of $100,000 a year, and most is not covered by insurance.

“We proved with a different crowd, we could raise just as much money,” Kolzig said. “I think everyone is really pleased with the way it has gone. We had a raise the paddle, and Carey was the big donor — $5,000. Stu and I joked we may have to add his name to the tournament — Olie, Stu and Carey’s Desert Bash. And somebody made the comment, Carey’s should be the first name.”

Barnes was the last player off the driving range Monday, getting in one last swing before joining his Babcock Services team. He said he liked the smaller feel of the event.

“It has been really fun,” Barnes said. “Everyone has had the time to talk to everyone and chat. The golf has been good and the dinner was good. Meadow Springs did a really good job for us.”

Price, who was invited to Canada’s National Men’s Team orientation camp Monday, was the big name at the event, and his Montreal hockey getaway was the big auction item Sunday night, going for $4,500.

The package includes two tickets to a Canadiens game, dinner and a tour of the Bell Centre. Airfare and hotel were included.

“Obviously there are a few less faces around, but the tournament is still holding strong and we are doing really well raising the funds we need to,” Price said. “At the end of the day, we are here to help autism. Having a smaller event is a way to put more funds toward the actual cause.”

Notes: The Kadlec Medical Center team of Price, Lane Savitch, Bill Baldwin, Bill Wingo and Juan Cordero won the tournament, with the Heritage Professional Landscaping team of Randy Mendenhall, Josh Brimberry, Ryan Beauchamp and Andrew Mendenhall placing second. The Columbia Bank team of Tom Arnold, Darren Chase, Brock Walter and Guy Devers were third. ... Greg Jablonski of the Balcom and Moe team won the driving range target challenge, while Craig Nighswonger of the Fidelitas Wines team won the closest-to-the-pin challenge, getting his ball within 8 inches of the cup.

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