Photo by Heather Middleton
By Joel Hall
As Rodney Tookes fired shots down the driving range at Crystal Lake Golf and Country Club on Tuesday morning, he knew his hitting strokes paled in comparison to how he, and others, hoped to score for youngsters in Clayton County.
Tookes, a Georgia Power senior corporate facilities analyst, along with more than 80 other part-time golfers, participated in the Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury Golf Classic, in Hampton. The fund-raiser is designed to help programs for children at Arts Clayton to continue another year.
"It's a great opportunity for people to come together and support the students of the county," Tookes said. "It's important because it [Arts Clayton] promotes learning, creativity, [and] self-expression, which are all things we want to develop in young people, if they are to develop their full potential in life."
Local business leaders from around the metro area joined Tookes at the seventh annual Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury Golf Classic. They left their normal 9-to-5 jobs to golf in support of the children's initiatives at Arts Clayton, particularly the ArtVan program, which takes the arts to students in areas where access to arts activities is limited.
Twenty-two, four-member teams participated in Tuesday's golf classic, representing businesses such as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia Power Co., SERVPRO cleanup and restoration services, Bank of North Georgia, Southern Regional Medical Center, and Georgia National Produce.
Mike Vigil, vice president of Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury, and an Arts Clayton board member, said he was pleased with the participation in this year's tournament, as well as perfect weather conditions on Tuesday.
"We hit our goal ... we had the same number as last year," Vigil said. "The people who play, they participate year after year. They know the value of the ArtVan, and how it's helping our children."
Arts Clayton Executive Director Linda Summerlin said five teams this year represented businesses who were first-time participants in the golf classic.
John Buck, an employee at the Hapeville Dwarf House, and a first-time participant, said he was happy his time on the course would help students have new artistic experiences. "Anytime you can bring out the creative side of a child early on, the more adventurous they tend to be," he said. "Anytime we can come out and have fun and do good work, I'm all for it."
Summerlin said given the state of the economy, the participation was proof Arts Clayton has a diverse base of support from around the metro area. "Over half of our teams come from outside of Clayton County," she said. "Given the economy, it's a great showing. In the past few years, we have done staff downsizing, but we have not cut programming. If we didn't have this [golf classic], some of the children's programming would be compromised, and some of it would probably be cut."
In addition to supporting the arts, Summerlin said the event served as a great way for businesses to secure future partnerships with one another. "There's banks, there's construction companies, there's car dealers ... it's a great networking opportunity for decision-makers," she said. "They just might run into somebody they want to do business with down the road."