By Curt Yeomans
Clayton County Public Schools officials were over the moon because of the turnout for their first-ever Clayton County Public Schools Promoting Student Achievement Golf Tournament scholarship fund-raiser, at the Lake Spivey Country Club on Friday.
There were 33 four-person teams, or 132 people total, playing in the tournament, said Luvenia Jackson, the special assistant to Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley, and tournament organizer. There was only room for 36 teams in the event, meaning only three team slots went unfilled, she said.
Jackson said she expects to have the final tally of how much money was raised during the tournament in a couple of weeks.
"This event has far exceeded our expectations," Jackson said. "This is just the first year, and to have this kind of turnout is phenomenal. I think it's only going to be bigger and better next year."
The golf tournament was held to raise money for scholarships the school system will give out this year to help graduating Clayton County students pay for their higher education, Heatley said as his team took a break at the 11th hole. He said he was involved in similar golf tournaments in California, when he was the superintendent of the Chino Valley Unified School District.
Heatley's team, which included school system Deputy Superintendent Stefanie Phillips, Chief of Human Resources Douglas Hendrix, and Terry Beauford, the husband of Clayton County Chamber of Commerce President Yulonda Beauford, finished fifth in the tournament. But Heatley said golfing skills were irrelevant in this tournament.
"We're winning because, at the end of the day, we're raising money for the children of Clayton County," he said.
The tournament brought out members of the local community, including local elected officials, attorneys, Clayton County government employees, school system employees, and vendors that provide goods and services to the school system.
The tournament was won by a team led by Jonesboro resident, Randy Hill, the husband of Morrow High School Principal Patricia Hill. He pulled his friends, Billy Gaines, Stephen Hill and Todd Schmidt, together to form a team. They finished 19 under par, mainly because they regularly play golf at the Lake Spivey Country Club, and are familiar with its setup, Randy Hill said.
Randy Hill said he decided to participate in the tournament partly because his wife is a high school principal, and partly because, as a parent, he knows how expensive college can be. His son, Forrest, will be attending Auburn University in the fall, he said.
"I did it mainly to help the children," he said. "It's going to cost $35,000 a year to send my son to Auburn, so we know just how expensive college can be and why scholarships are important."
The children were cited by other golfers as well, when asked why they participated in the tournament.
"I thought it was a worthy cause, so I decided to participate and help the kids out," said golfer, James Debardelaben.
Gene Carlton, whose company GC Electrical Solutions provides electrical supplies to Clayton County Public Schools' maintenance department, said he jumped at the chance to participate in the tournament when approached by event organizers. He said he plans to participate in future golf tournaments the school system puts on as well.
"I have always supported the school system, so when I was asked to provide a team, I said 'absolutely,'" Carlton said. "I am always willing to assist the school system in any way I can."