The Smithers Celebrity Golf Tournament is still weeks away, but it is shaping up to be a big deal.
Organizer Kent Delwisch said pent-up demand after the bi-annual fundraiser was cancelled in 2021 had sponsors lining up to get involved.
“Our sponsorships, the golf teams, sold out in a week in March so that was kind of an indicator that people were interested in getting back, there was a demand that way, for sure,” he said.
“It’s nice to be getting back a little bit of normal after the whole COVID thing, and that’s kind of the response we’ve been getting from the sponsors as well as the celebrities.”
The tournament is a one-day scramble. Each sponsor team of four members is paired with a celebrity by way of an auction prior to the start of play.
In 2019, the auction raised $60,000 with former Miss USA contestant (Miss Missouri) Katie Kearney garnering the highest bid at $4,100.
That year, musician Danielle Marie (King) and her team from Bulkley Valley Financial Services (BVFS) — Tim Veenstra, Joel Veenstra, Sean Carey, Don Sutton and Ted Veenstra — came out on top with a score of 20-under-par.
Danielle Marie will not be back to defend her title, but the field does include a wide range of high profile professional hockey players, curlers, baseball players, Olympians and TV personalities.
They include hometown favourites Joe Watson, Dan Hamhuis and Rachel Brown.
Delwisch noted because of the absence of the tourney last year, organizers are trying to go the extra mile this time around.
That is why they moved the Canucks Alumni Hockey Game, which has in past years been a separate event played in the winter to the Thursday before the golf tournament.
“It’s been three years since we did it and you want to make it big,” he said.
Beneficiaries of the 2022 tournament are the Bulkley Valley Health Foundation and Bulkley Valley Youth Sport Foundation.
Since 2011, the health foundation has worked to improve medical facilities in the region. Among its projects have been a second ultrasound, specialty surgical equipment, maternity ward enhancements and the CT scanner.
The youth sport foundation, founded just last year, also seeks to improve health outcomes in the valley through removing barriers to sports. One of its very first projects was providing nine sets of junior golf clubs to the Smithers Golf and Country Club that kids without clubs can borrow at no cost.
In 2019, the tournament donated $125,000 to the health foundation and the Smithers Community Cancer Care Team.