DANVILLE — For the fifth year, golfers will descend upon Danville — but there’s plenty for the general public to enjoy, as well.
The fifth annual American Legion State Golf Tournament will be Saturday and Sunday at Harrison Park Golf Course and Turtle Run Golf Club. Proceeds from the tournament will go to support veteran charities.
“Each year it’s grown,” said tournament coordinator Gregg Alpers, noting that 49 four-person teams participated last year. “I’m excited and proud about that.”
About 41 teams have signed up so far, and players may still register.
The public is invited to the opening ceremonies at 8 a.m. Saturday at Harrison Park and to activities Saturday night at the American Legion Post 210, including music and fireworks.
At the opening ceremony, the American Legion Riders will be present and there will be presentation of colors, a fly over and National Anthem. The Marine Corps League and American Legion honor guards will present the colors. Local first responders will be in attendance.
A special plaque will be given to Max Call, a Korean War veteran who was present as a military policeman when the armistice was signed between North and South Korea. He is former Vermilion County Board chairman.
Political dignitaries will attend, and Sewing for Veterans will present a quilt.
“It will be a nice, solemn, informative ceremony,” Alpers said.
Emcee will be former Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, who also will introduce the golfers as they tee off when the tournament begins.
Saturday night, the public is invited to Post 210 at Jackson and Prospect for a variety of activities starting with a quilt raffle at 6 p.m. by Sewing for Veterans. Tickets are on sale now for the patriotic quilt pieced by Becky Siddens and quilted by Kathy Van Camp.
Tickets are 12 for $10 or six for $5. The winner need not be present to win.
At 7 p.m., there will be music by the TBT Band, an auction of three or four paintings completed by John Jansky, and food and drink for sale. Fireworks will start at dusk.
Referring to the entire evening, Alpers said, “It’s a pretty sweet deal if you’re looking for something to do.”
“We are excited to bring this annual tournament to our city in honor of our veterans,” Jeanie Cooke, executive directors for the Danville Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, said in a release. “We look forward to hosting it for many years to come.”
For golfers, the $125 entry fee includes Saturday and Sunday rounds, cart fees, a commemorative golf tin, Saturday meal and prize money in the form of golf shop credit.
One player in each foursome must be an American Legion member in good standing, or members of the American Legion, American Legion Riders, Sons of the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary or active military. Format is a four-person scramble.
Play will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at both Harrison Park and Turtle Run. Golfers will switch courses on Sunday.
On Friday, entrants will be allowed to play 18 holes with a cart for $20, and there will be a free putting contest at 1 p.m. at Turtle Run. The winner will receive $100 and the winner may choose a Legion of his or her choice to receive $100.
On the ninth hole at both courses on both days, several members of the Marine Corps League will remove the pole with the American flag, stand at attention outside the green until everyone has putted, and then return the flag. This will be done for all golfers.
“It’s a patriotic gesture and well-received by the players, Alpers said.
Alpers, an avid golfer, said Champaign-Urbana had the tournament for 36 years, and Post 210 usually took three or four teams to play until 2007. When the chairman died in 2012, the tournament stopped.
In early 2015, Alpers made arrangements for the tournament to be held in Danville.
The first year, there were 26 teams, and it’s grown each year.
“They enjoy it,” Alpers said of the golfers. “It’s nice to win, but having a good weekend is priceless.”
Profit from the tournament goes to Legion-recognized charities, which vary from year to year. A total of $12,000 has been given to veterans’ causes so far.
Besides helping local groups, money is sent to the state Legion department for disbursement to other charities.
Money comes from players’ fees and also from American Legions, local businesses and others that sponsor holes.
Alpers is adamant that the tournament will remain in Danville for years to come, even when he’s no longer chairman.
There are 12 people on the committee, with most being from the Danville area.
Alpers praised the members for their dedication and hard work. He singled out Ron Swaim of Godfrey who does “a fabulous job” in the southern part of the state.
“He’s done a phenomenal job and I can’t thank him and his wife, Joy, enough,” Alpers said.
“I’ve got a group of people on the committee that I wouldn’t trade for the world.”
The Visitors’ Bureau also does a wonderful job promoting the event, he added.
Alpers, who retired in 2005 from Delphi in Kokomo, Ind., served in the Marine Corps 1966-72, and is past commander of Legion Post 210.
Alpers also wants people to know that the Legion is open to the public, and people are invited to the meals offered there.
Registration forms may be obtained at participating golf courses or by calling Gregg Alpers, tournament chairman, at 274-3763 or the Danville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 383-4386.
Online registration is available at https://www.visitdanvillearea.com/american-legion-state-golf-tournament/. Or you may email:ALStateGolf@gmail.com.
Entries will be taken until the day of the tournament.