ALAMEDA -- The Marzolf brothers, Roland and Wayne, wanted to raise money for charity. They also enjoyed golf. So they decided to stage a charity golf tournament, getting a group of their friends together, at $55 each, to play a round on Alameda's Jack Clark Course followed by a dinner at the Italian-American Hall on Encinal Avenue.

That inaugural Marzolf Golf Invitational took place in October 1989, just two weeks before the Loma Prieta earthquake, and netted $300 for the Marzolf brothers' charity of choice, the Alameda Boys and Girls Club.

From that day on, a tradition was born. And its reputation grew. More golfers. More sponsors. Silent and live auctions. And ultimately, much more money raised for the Alameda Boys and Girls Club through the years (up to $20,000 per year at recent tournaments, according to the club).

This year, the tradition will reach a milestone as the 25th annual tournament -- now known at the Alameda Boys and Girls Club Swing for Great Futures Golf Classic — — takes place Sept. 23. This year's tournament promises to be different from its predecessors, too. Primarily because it will take place for the first time at Oakland's Sequoyah Country Club.

"We did make a switch to a new venue -- Sequoyah is one of the more exclusive clubs in the Bay Area," said ABGC chief professional officer Jeff Miller. "The club is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year."


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A sort of double celebration, for sure, especially for the hard-core golfers taking part. But the change to such a prestigious venue also brings higher expectations. As usual, sponsors have stepped up with contributions ranging from $100 to $5,000. Overall, the ABGC was on pace to gross more than $70,000 at this year's tournament.

"The Marzolf event has been a long-standing tradition in Alameda, and the consensus was that we wanted to upgrade it into a bigger deal, with more golfers, bigger dinner, the whole nine yards. And that is what has happened," said ABGC executive board member Ron Matthews, who will also play in the tournament. "We only have space for a few more golfers at this point, and our excitement as well as our revenues are increased twofold, at least."

As an added incentive for competitors, a golfer hitting a hole-in-one on a designated par-3 hole will win a new car, courtesy of One Toyota of Oakland. In addition to the golf tournament, Swing for Great Futures also will feature a putting contest and other games, raffle prizes and silent and live auction items.

What started modestly in 1989 has grown into a signature event for the ABGC. And for the Swing for Great Futures Golf Classic, the future only looks to become greater.

FYI
For those going or competing: Swing for Great Futures is an all-day affair, starting with registration at 10:30 a.m., followed by a lunch provided by Otaez Restaurant at 11 a.m. Sept. 23. The actual tournament, employing a shotgun start and four-player scramble format, begins at noon.
Action winds down at 5:30 p.m. with no-host cocktails followed by dinner and an awards ceremony at 6.
To date, sign-ups were near capacity (some 150 golfers are expected to compete), with space available for three more foursomes. Registration costs $250 per player. Beyond playing in the tournament, this fee includes a cart, lunch, dinner, wine, drinks on the course, golf shirt and gift bag.
Golf cards also are available for $30, which includes two mulligans, games on the course and 20 raffle tickets. Those not into golf still can enjoy dinner for $75.
For registration or to donate items for auction, become a sponsor, or simply for more information, go to www.swingforgreatfutures.com, or call 510-522-4900, ext. 101, or e-mail info@alamedabgc.org.