Hillcrest Golf and Country Club Spreads Message of Hope

Hillcrest Golf and Country Club

Since members of Europe’s aristocracy crossed the Atlantic, bringing golf to America, the sport has been considered an occupation for the elite. While the feeling that golf is only a game for the well off has eased a bit, many still believe the game shuns the less fortunate in society.

During a recent benefit tournament at Hollywood, Florida’s Hillcrest Golf and Country Club, the have-nots were singled out, but not for exclusion.

Golfers, sponsors and organizers gathered on Friday, Dec. 3 to support Gawad Kalinga, a movement dedicated to easing and one day erasing the pressures of poverty in the Philippines. The cause is close to General Manager Lewis Rissman’s heart, and he helped put the event together.

“I thought what better way to raise money for the poorest of the poor than to organize a golf tournament for this amazing cause,” Rissman said.

The United Association, which owns Hillcrest, donated the course. Together with the support of ownership, the 120 participants and sponsors were able to raise $25,000. Funds generated by the tournament will be enough to construct 10 homes as part of GK’s first phase.

Troon Golf, which manages Hillcrest, donated many foursomes from its phenomenal courses all over the U.S. and accommodations to support the cause. Local courses and businesses also chipped in.

A scene from the Gawad Kalinga tournament 

“I was absolutely amazed at the response,” said Rissman. “Even in these difficult times people were extremely supportive and after touching hearts with the story of this charity, everyone was extremely generous.”

The golf tournament culminated with an amazing awards ceremony that featured a delicious “Taste of the Philippines” buffet.

Next year’s Gawad Kalinga tournament is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 2, 2011.

About the Cause

The Gawad Kalinga (GK) project will initially focus on lifting people out of poverty in the Philippines. The model aims to end world poverty. GK is a three-phase, 21-year plan.

Gawad Kalinga means to “give care” in Filipino. Officially known as the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation, the organization is a Philippines-based poverty alleviation and nation-building movement.  

In the Philippines, GK is building empowered communities by people with faith and patriotism. Driven by a culture of caring and sharing, GK is dedicated to eradicating poverty and restoring human dignity. Its mission is to end poverty for five million families by 2024.

GK 777, which signifies the three phases of the project each lasting seven years, strives to “un-squat” the poorest of the poor, heal their despair, regain their trust, build their confidence, make them think and act as a community and to share the joy of a country rising from poverty. The three phases are: Social Justice, Social Artistry and Social Progress.  

GK will make the Filipino poor “unpoor” by unleashing his potential for productivity and hard work in the right environment.

The 21-year journey of GK represents one generation of Filipinos who will transition from poverty to prosperity, from neglect to respect, from shame to honor, from third world to first-world, from second-class to first-class citizen of the world.

To learn more about the Gawad Kalinga movement, visit www.gk1world.com

Tournament Details

The GK fundraising tournament was played using a “Shamble” format, where every player hits a tee shot and then the team chooses the best shot and plays their own ball in.

One hundred and twenty golfers teed off at 12:15 p.m. after enjoying barbecue, special sausage, chili and beer.  

Teams declared if they were playing for net or gross prior to teeing off.

The winning gross team finished at 13-under-par and was lead by Warren Jerkowitz, who recently earned conditional status on the Champions Tour.

On-course competition consisted of four (4) closest-to-the-pin contests, with great prizes donated by Titleist, EZ-GO and Grouse Scotch.  

The United Association, which owns Hillcrest, donated the course making it possible to raise $25,000.

The Troon Golf facilities that donated to the cause included: Troon North, Talking Stick, Lake of Isles, Black Diamond Ranch, Harmony Golf Preserve, Indian Wells, Sarasota National, Sequoya National, Ballen Isle, The Club at Savannah Harbor and St. James Plantation.

Local Florida golf courses were eager to assist in the fundraising effort, and included: Plantation Preserve, Jacaranda, Carolina Club, Hollywood Beach and Pembroke Lakes.

Budweiser and Polar Beer were very generous and plenty of beer was flowing.  


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