“The tournament is structured around 12 holes, which is kind of weird,” Christy Sullivan, tournament organizer and Zippo Lighters Senior Development Manager said. “The scoring is based on 9 holes, while the other three are fun. Some of our ladies are avid golfers, and some have never picked up a club before.”
The only winning the tournament concerns itself with is people winning their battle against cardiovascular diseases. Combining these fun holes into play is a testament to that.
“For instance, a stroke can leave someone blind - so one of the holes, we blindfold a team member and they have to rely on the team to get the ball in the hole,” Sullivan said. “Another is timed, as in how quickly you can get the ball in the hole. When someone is having a heart attack, it’s a race against time. So we try to incorporate these types of things to help raise awareness in a fun, interactive way.”
After the tournament’s inaugural year, one of the charitable endeavors was to donate AEDs (or automated external defibrillator, a machine that jolts a heart back into function) to various golf courses and establishments around the area. One of which went to Birch Run Golf Course in Allegany. After the AED went in, a golfer suffered a heart attack on the course. That AED saved his life.
“Cardiac diseases on the golf course are a lot more common than you would think,” Dr. Steve Herrmann told me. “The Drive Fore Life organization has been really successful since we started it. We’ve raised money for (the aforementioned) AEDs, pacemakers at Olean General Hospital and some cardio rehabilitation equipment for Bradford Hospital. There’s a lot of work that goes into this event, but it’s worth it.”
Herrmann, a cardiologist in Bradford, was a close friend of Reiley’s. And the patient who survived at Birch Run? A patient of his. He’s got a vested interest in the tournament because he sees the impact it has every day. This year, money raised will go towards new cardiology equipment at Bradford Hospital.
“It’s a fun day because the ladies get to play while the men do all the work,” Sullivan told me, laughing. “There are so many great prizes in the silent auction. The last year we did the tournament, the winning team received Michael Kors watches. There are Kate Spade and Coach bags, a martini bar, a daiquiri bar … there’s a lot of incentive to come out and play. We like to encourage ladies who aren’t playing to come and buy tickets regardless to give themselves a chance to win.”
There’s even a ‘wine’ hole. If a team member puts their first shot on the green (it’s a par 3) they automatically win a bottle of wine. I know that would be enough incentive for my girlfriend to play.