The fourth annual Els for Autism Pro-Am Charity golf tournament was held this week at PGA National Golf Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Sixty amateurs and 20 current and former PGA Tour professional golfers teed it up on a sunny and windy day to support the foundation started by Ernie and Liezl Els in conjunction with Marvin R. Shanken, the editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado and Wine Spectator magazines.
This year’s event raised $725,000 for the foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cause and a cure for the epidemic of autism in young children. The pro-am fundraiser has now given nearly $3 million to the foundation.
The foundation’s ultimate goal is to raise $30 million to build a school and a research facility in the West Palm Beach area. The research center will be dedicated to all aspects of autism treatment and study, and will put together innovative programs for education, therapy and research for children across the autism spectrum. The Els's became involved in this work after they announced to the world in March 2008 that their son Ben suffered from autism.
The professional golfers who gave their time on Monday included Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Luke Donald, Dustin Johnson, Geoff Ogilvy, K.J. Choi, Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Camilo Villegas, Roberty Allenby, Justin Leonard, Brett Quigley, Steve Marino, Mark Calcavecchia, Ian Baker-Finch, Gregg Chalmers and Bruce Fleischer.
Sponsoring companies included the Richemont Group, Charmer Sunbelt, SAP USA, Stonehage, Moët Hennessy USA, Deutsch & Sons, Republic National, Pernod Ricard, Campari America, PGA National, Millennium, Brown Forman Corp., Royal Bank of Canada, Terlato Wines, Banfi, Diageo and Bacardi.