Annual golf tournament aids Doe River Gorge ministry

By Ivan Sanders
STAR STAFF
isanders@starhq.com

   Nestled quietly in a majestic hollow in Hampton, Doe River Gorge has become host to over 1,000 kids and a staff of 80 college workers who come to the tranquil setting each summer, often traveling from the surrounding area as well as out of state.
   It isn't just a place for these kids to hang out, but was developed with the mission of reaching these young people with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
   Seven years ago, a golf tournament was started to help provide financial assistance in keeping the ministry of Doe River Gorge alive and growing. On Monday, June 23, 2003 at The Ridges Golf and Country Club in Johnson City, area golfers and sponsors come together once again to aid this worthy cause.
   "Several of the golfers made comments last year that the tournament is one of the better ones around and grows larger each year," said Doe River Gorge's Steve McAuley, who is spearheading the effort. "The tournament provides a great day of competition, two great meals, prizes, and the joy of knowing you are helping kids. It is truly a great investment for each participant."
   Registration will begin at 10 a.m. on the morning of the tournament, with a shotgun start at 11 a.m. Golfers will be treated to lunch on the course courtesy of Gardner Paint services.
   The Ridges is one of the area's premier golf courses with a layout designed by nationally-known course designer Arthur Hills, providing a par-72 course that is both challenging and exciting to play. The Doe River Gorge Golf Challenge will feature 18 holes of golf for men's, women's, and mixed four-person teams competing in a select-shot format.
   In 1997, 22 teams of golfers assembled and raised approximately $12,000 for the ministry. Last year, there were 30 teams of 120 golfers that generated $25,000 for the continually growth of the local haven.
   For a entry fee of $200, golfers will receive the following: green fees, golfer gift bag, Cutter & Buck golf shirt, lunch, buffet awards dinner, cart rental, door prizes, drinks, and much more. There are still openings available for sponsorship of holes where the donor will have their exclusive hole sign placed on one of the course's 18 holes.
   "This is my third year with the event and it just gets better every year," said McAuley. "I can't think of a better way to spend a day than playing 18 holes of golf on a beautiful course and helping to insure that Doe River Gorge will remain a place where young people can build strong Christian character while allowing them to have the time of their lives in an atmosphere of fun, adventure, acceptance, and love."
   McAuley went on to add that the headline sponsors and media sponsors have been so wonderful in their support of the tournament. The headline sponsors include: Citizens Bank Tri-Cities, The Sleep Zone, and Johnson City Health and Fitness.
   Media sponsors of the event are: NewsChannel 11 WJHL, Citadel Broadcasting, WCQR, and the Elizabethton Star.
   The tournament will provide an opportunity for the golfers to test their skills in competition against the other participants. Prizes will be awarded for the longest drive, longest putt, with special prizes for any golfer who nails a hole-in-one.
   For teams or individuals interested in pre-registering for the tournament, one can go to Doe River Gorge's website at www.doerivergorge.com <http://www.doerivergorge.com> , click on the golf ball and print off a registration form to fax or mail in. Sponsors still have until June 19th to call McAuley at (423) 725-4010 and sponsor a hole to insure time in getting a sign made for the tournament.
   All of the money raised from the Challenge will directly support the current facilities and programs at Doe River Gorge Ministries.