Golf balls fell from the sky |

Golf balls fell from the sky

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily

WOLCOTT – Weather conditions were ideal for the first annual Youth Foundation/First Tee Golf Classic, Friday, participants say. Golfers, supporters and spectators saw a hot-air balloon rise in the sky over the Red Sky Golf Course’s practice range, hoisting 1,000 Callaway golf balls 40 feet in the air. For the past two months, individuals have been buying golf balls for $100 each, hoping that their ball, when dropped from balloon, would land in the cup and make them as much as $25,000.

“We’re not just going to be teaching children the game of golf, we’re going to be teaching them the game of life,” said Susie Davis, director of the Youth Foundation, which oversees the First Tee program.Two of the $1,000 worth of golf balls fell and two landed in the hole. Neither winner was at the golf course, but winner Neal Groff donated his $12,500 to the Youth Foundation and the First Tee children’s golf program. “The children of Eagle County are really lucky, they will be learning from the best and learning the best,” said Groff, an avid golfer.

One thousand balls were sold due to a donation from Denny Sanford, a local entrepreneur and backer of the First Tee program, which he also supports in his home state of South Dakota. The First Tee program, in working with kids, stresses honesty, integrity, courtesy, judgment and perseverance, among other values, Davis said. “If a kid can learn these lessons,” Sanford added, “then he or she will be a good person in business, sports, family and life.”

Following the golf-ball drop, 92 golfers teed off in a tournament. “This was the most fun, rewarding and successful event I’ve ever been involved with,” said Susan Milhoan, an organizer of the fundraiser. “We raised well over $130,000 our first year. The support we’ve seen for the First Tee program is phenomenal. I guess our local golfers have found a really wonderful way of giving back – and they know the rewards.” Vail, Colorado

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