LECANTO, Fla. — With April being Autism Awareness Month, a “dream team” of 10 professional golfers got together on the course Monday to raise money for the Els for Autism Foundation.
“This has really been like a hall of fame get-together,” professional golfer Ernie Els, 51, said.
There was a time when Els was the greatest golfer on the planet.
When he’s not on the course, his focus is on his charitable foundation. It was created in 2009 with his son Ben being impacted by an Autism disorder.
“Some great players that have given up their time,” Els said. “A lot of guys came from (The Masters in) Augusta, a lot of guys drove up from Naples. We came in from Texas, it’s all for charity.”
For the first time, Black Diamond Ranch golf club is hosting the event.
“I wanted to bring his cause up here to our area in Lacanto, up to Black Diamond Ranch,” event promoter and caddy Martin Courtois said. “Our membership is outstanding, humble and always with anonymity."
“We have much bigger plans and greater goals than what we’ve achieved this year, but it’s been on a short time frame,” he added. “We’ve been limited with COVID as far as drawing fans and things like that.”
These 10 legendary golfers have combined for 112 PGA Tour wins and 13 majors. They’re all on one course, with some breathtaking views on the Quarry Course.
“You wouldn’t know if they dropped you off from a helicopter,” professional golfer Rocco Mediate said. “You don’t know where you are. It’s fantastic. Big elevations. It’s been around and it’s a hidden gem. We love it.”
“It was so great to see the guys come out and support it,” Els said. “Not only our foundation but the Black Diamond Foundation.”
The dream team of golf pros helped raise over $100,000. But, the dream next year is much bigger.
“Next year we are looking to hit $1 million,” Courtois said.