The 20th annual Hank Wright Auction and Golf Tournament at Lemon Bay Golf Club opens tonight with one of the most highly anticipated auctions of any Gasparilla Island event.
Later, a champion will be crowned from a field as competitive as possible. The tourney is full at 27 teams.
One big question remains to be answered: Can Pete Soderberg and Ed and Nora Lea Reefe anchor a winning team an unprecedented third year in a row? Since winning their second title, Ed Reefe has a quintuple bypass and Nora Lea Reefe has been battling asthma but they are back on island and ready to compete.
The Fiat 500c Lounge model sports upgraded leather seats, Bose sound system, automatic transmission, climate control, convertible top and retails for more than $27,000.
The Reefes and Soderberg teamed with Bruce Stirling, and Tom Cross a year ago as Hank Wright low gross champs. Two years ago, Reefe and Soderberg won with teammates Phil Woods and Hal Hartle.
The Reefes and Soderberg, this year will team with Peter's wife, Elsa Soderberg, and Colvin McCrady.
"Don't know how we will play after almost a year without playing between Ed's quintuple bypass last May at Duke and his rehab and recovery, and my bout with asthma from November to March," Reef said. "But we have both been out on the links since we got down here."
What: 20th Annual Hank Wright Cocktail Party and Silent Auction
Who: open to public
When: 6 p.m. Thursday at the Gasparilla Inn Beach Club.
Where: Lemon Bay Golf Club
How: Call 964-0099 to buy auction tickets.
You should know: Golf tourney at is full at 27 teams
Hank Wright raffle tickets remain
Time is dwindling to buy a ticket to win a 2012 Fiat 500C Lounge model in the new Hank Wright raffle for the Boca Grande Health Clinic Foundation.
The drawing will be held today at the 20th annual Hank Wright Auction to support the Boca Grande Health Clinic.
Donations of $100 are suggested for each of 700 tickets. Call 964-0099 for details.
The last teammates to win two titles in a row were the 2006-07 champs of Lewis Hamilton, Yanna Saari, Len Sacori, Clint Curtis and Fred Reynolds.
LBGC General Manager Chip Copeman has seen a lot of golf over his 35-year tenure. Of the more than 15,000 rounds played at LBGC over the off-season, these are his favorites.
"It truly demonstrates the generosity of our membership," Coleman said. "You are personally touched by it."
The golfing is not cutthroat, Coleman said.
"It's a friendly competition," he said. "There are no real rivalries. It's a lot of the same people year after year."
Lemon Bay Golf Club Executive Secretary Cindy Claude said the tourney generally enjoys favorable weather coming a month before the beginning of the rainy season. The forecast calls for highs near 82 with mostly sunny skies this weekend.
"It rained a couple of years ago," Claude said. "It was nasty. That's the only bad time I remember."
Dr. Hank Wright, 88, contrary to earlier reports, will participate.
"He will golf," confirmed his wife, June Wright.
The 20th Annual Hank Wright Cocktail Party and Silent Auction begins at 6 p.m. April 12 at the Gasparilla Inn Beach Club. Call 964-0099 to buy tickets.
The shotgun start tees off at 9:30 a.m. Friday after a continental breakfast at Lemon Bay Golf Club.
The tourney and auction generated more than $140,000 for the Boca Grande Health Clinic last year, according to Mary Anne Hastings, Boca Grande Health Clinic Foundation managing director.
The Hank Wright Tournament helps fund an annual $1 million clinic deficit. Annual giving brings in $400,000, the tourney is budgeted for $120,000 and the rest comes from portfolio and endowment accounts.