Ballantyne Country Club will help Charlotte's youngest golfers again this year by hosting its 12th annual Rudolph-Dadey Memorial Golf Tournament.
The tournament was established as a tribute to Ballantyne Country Club's first head golf pro Craig Rudolph and assistant golf professional Kevin Dadey, who were killed in a helicopter crash in May 1998.
Creators of the Rudolph-Dadey tournament wanted to ensure that Rudolph and Dadey's passion for golf was honored, said Vince King, executive director of The First Tee organization of Charlotte.
"Their love for kids and love for golf made it a no-brainer," he said. "We needed to do something nice that the 'boys' (Rudolph and Dadey) would be proud of."
The Golf FORE Kids Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on sharing golf with children throughout the Carolinas, was created to distribute the proceeds of the Rudolph-Dadey tournament.
Maureen Kindred of the Ballantyne Country Club says the funds generated go directly to First Tee of Charlotte, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "Impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf."
"The First Tee is here to create a safe haven for children to play a game that will teach them core values and life skills for the rest of their life," King said. "Golf is the only game in which you are policing yourself."
Five years ago, when the Ballantyne Country Club committed to helping First Tee, they made a $125,000 pledge. King says they already have exceeded that amount, with $150,000 in contributions from tournament fees and silent auctions.
"This shows how much they believe in giving," King said. "The First Tee is incredibly indebted and we couldn't do it without them."
Economic troubles have affected the tournament. "Initially, we had a full field averaging 140 golfers; the last couple of years the number has been down (due to the economy)," said Kindred.
Rudolph was an avid golfer, following his father, Mason Rudolph, by playing on the PGA tour. Rudolph was survived by his wife and twin boys, one who is a five-time PGA tour winner, Edgar Mason Rudolph.
Dadey, a graduate of Penn State in professional golf management, is survived by his parents and three brothers who are all supporters of the tournament.
The tournament takes place at the Ballantyne Country Club starting today at 1 p.m. Entrance is free.