Strong tradition continues with Mullen Pro-Am

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Living up to its name, the Heritage Hills Golf Course has become a showcase for tradition during the annual John Mullen Pro-Am Health & Heritage Classic.

Now entering the 18th year, the pro-am grew out of a gathering of family and friends to honor the memory of John Mullen.

John, the son of Bernie and Nona Mullen, embarked on a career in golf before being claimed by cancer at the age of 23. Because of his love for the game and his gentle nature, there could not have been a more appropriate memorial than the pro-am.

Two goals are accomplished by the annual event. First, the pro-am promotes sporting competition; and, second, it presents an opportunity for charitable giving.

"I have been extremely impressed by the quality of the event," said Terri Shipshock, the executive director of the Community Hospital Health Foundation. "The enthusiasm, the level of professionalism and the volunteer giving combine to make the pro-am a top quality tournament. It's among the best-run events with which I have been associated."

Volunteer participation is especially important. Thanks to contributions of time, labor and money, the John Mullen Pro-Am has raised more than $172,000 for the Community Hospital Health Foundation in 17 years. And, this year, the pro-am is well on its way to raising another $20,000.

When combined with funds raised in 2004 and 2005, the proceeds from this year's tournament will provide more than $50,000 for the hospital's rehabilitation project.

In addition to helping the hospital, the John Mullen Pro-Am is also an excellent showcase for the Heritage Hills Golf Course. As of noon Wednesday, 124 amateurs and 29 professionals had signed up to play in the tournament. Action begins Friday afternoon with a professional golf "horse race." That's the term used to describe a shootout, in which golfers with the lowest scores advance in a sudden death format.

The two-day tournament takes place Saturday and Sunday. There will be shotgun starts for the amateur teams and professional players on both days. Action will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday. Cash and merchandise prizes totaling more than $13,000 will be awarded.

"The course is in peak condition," said Bill Bieck, the Heritage Hills' superintendent. The greens are quick and the balls in the fairways are getting maximum roll due to the drought and wind.

Heritage and hills are hallmarks of the aptly named McCook course, which is once again playing host to the John Mullen Pro-Am. The result is a proud tradition, presented with quality, respect and dedication to charitable giving.

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