There never seems to be a lack of special events on the go around Smithers, especially in the summer. This year, one of the most anticipated is the 2019 Air Canada Smithers Celebrity Golf Tournament. The event has been going on since 1991 and each year seems to get better.
This year, the tournament will be held August 8-10. According to director Kent Delwisch, the celebrity list is packed and there will be some new activities to keep everyone entertained.
While the majority of personalities in attendance have been sports stars, there have been some musical performers as well. This year, according to Delwisch there will be a chance to get more than just some golf on one of the most beautiful venues in BC.
“We have never had a live concert on the Friday night. With a couple of bands and a couple of celebrities that play music it should be a big event that we have never had before,” Delwisch said. “We figured why not get those musicians in the tournament on stage and have a good show.”
Delwisch has been organizing the tournament for the last 10 years and with his energy and innovation, the contest seems to get bigger every year.
“Our web site shows 35 celebrities including Dan Hamhuis, Kirk MacLean and Eric Brewer for example,” he said. “We have 35 teams, each with one celebrity.”
He noted half of the proceeds will be going to the BV Hospital and Healthcare Foundation, which they have supported in the past to help fund a new CT scanner that went into service July 9. While funds have not been designated for a specific task, it is anticipated they will be used to upgrade surgical equipment. The other half will go to the cancer support group in town.
“For a small community, the money that we raise is very good,” Delwisch said. “For the past few years we have been around 100 grand that we raise in three days. That’s 100 grand in profit. In addition, there’s a lot of money coming into the community for hotels and food and more.
“Besides the funds raised for the community, many of the local businesses get behind the event. The support they give financially is amazing.”
It seems that all he has to do is make the call, and the necessary support is there. Vehicles, tents and much more is readily made available by local businesses.
They also try to improve the golf course each year.
“This year we got a few of our sponsors to get together and they rebuilt the number two tee block, new retaining wall, new irrigation, new tee,” Delwisch explained. “There was about $40,000 worth of work that was all donated by four companies. It’s great that these guys get together and don’t charge a thing. The golf course benefits and everybody who uses it benefits.”
As far as getting celebrities to attend, perhaps the only problem Delwisch has is handling those who have been here in the past and the new people they want to bring along.
Having a number of locals such as Dan Hamhuis who have gone on to play in the NHL does not hurt.
“Celebrities who come like to come back,” Delwisch said. “I know there [are] a bunch of Canucks alumni who like to come because they get treated so well here and everyone is nice to them. They say that the event is well organized and the setting is beautiful.”
Golf fanatic Katie Kearney and her former NFL father became participants when Delwisch made a call to the former Miss America contestant. Delwisch said he does not think she has ever been to this part of Canada before. She is a host for a number of golf events as well as a contributor to a number of golf publications.
Word gets out and each year there seem to be more. Delwisch said he had recently spoken to Canadian bobsledder and CFL player Jesse Lumsden who wanted to see if it would be possible to get his friend Rob Neidermeyer of the NHL into the tournament.
Of course, there is the usual group of Smithers residents past and present such as curler Rachel Brown and hockey star Joe Watson, who have demonstrated their sports expertise at a high level. In addition, this year’s list includes baseball and football players and bobsledders.