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Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Don Clausen Golf Tournament

2nd Annual Great Day in the Life of Don Clausen
by mpron

As many of you know, Don Clausen is a great supporter of USC Athletics and USC, in general. Don has been fighting cancer hard for the past couple of years just as you would expect a Trojan to do. I am sure it has been tough on him as he is a an active guy and also tough for the family, but they too have been battling like true Trojans to make life for him as normal as possible. He still comes out to most of the home games and if you are in the vicinity of tunnel 14, drop by to say hi... especially the pretty girls hahaha (sorry Sally LOL)!! But it ain't cheap.

One of Don's greatest passions outside of the SC family is golf. So Tony Rubino, one of Don's great friends from the San Diego area, got this idea of throwing a benefit golf tournament in Poway with a lot of Don's pals during the Masters Golf Tournament week in Don's honor to help
out...just a little. On Thursday, we held the 2nd Annual Don Clausen Masters Golf Tournament. It started out as a beautiful day a
t the Number One rated public golf course in San Diego, The Maderas Golf Club. The sky was blue and yada yada... :-)

I met a few of Don's relatives and friends as they checked in, most of whom I had met last year. It is easy to see why Don is such a good guy as his brothers and sisters are pretty cool people too.

We started the festivities with Tony thanking everyone for coming and introducing the family and some special guests. Like last year, I as well as a couple of others who were not able to play, had asked Tony to find some folks to pay in our place. Tony introduced two Marine colonels who honored us with their attendance and had recently returned from Iraq (one of them who was injured there on his first tour). He gave a brief bio on their accomplishments while in the Persian Gulf and also thanked them for their distinguished service to their country as did many of us
during the course of the day.

There was two more things to do before the shotgun start. As his chauffeur for the day, I wheeled Don in front of a TV that one of the players had brought and played a short message from Coach Pete with words of encouragement from him and the football team. I believe I saw a couple of tears in Don's eyes. A big thanks to Suzanne Garrett and Mike's executive assistant Danielle Martinez as well as Coach Pete's people for a huge assist in making the video. There was one last thing to do before everyone took off and that was for Don to hit the ceremonial first tee shot. I wheeled him onto the tee box (while almost dumping him out of the wheelchair as the front tires kind of dug into the soft dirt) and Tony had already teed a ball up. It was a touching scene as Tony took Don's hand while Don was in the wheelchair and helped him address the ball. One good friend helping another maintain one of his passions if only for that on fleeting moment. I mean this is what life is all about.

Don hit the ball and while in relative terms, it was not far, it was good wood and Ruthian all things considered. After Don made the proclamation of "Let the games begin," everyone took off to their appointed tee assignments. Then it was my turn to get to work as Don's escort again. After the guys made the turn and took pictures with Don, I would push Don up the hill to the tee box (again with the trepidation of slipping and letting the guest of honor roll down into the creek LOL), so Don could BS with the guys and the guys could show off their stuff. Sometimes successfully... sometimes not, but it didn't matter as their pal was back in the saddle with them once again.

Ray Weber, San Diego Trojan Club President, showed up later in the afternoon and hung out with us for a while. Some clouds rolled in and the breeze picked up a little and so Don decided to go into the clubhouse and watch the Masters and sneak in a little Miller Lite while Sally wasn't looking (don't get too angry with him Sally). There was a banquet following the round. After dinner Tony had a raffle of prizes that were donated from various people as well as the golf course. Then Tony read off the closest-to-the-pin winners as well as the group that won the tournament. One of the guys, who is a retired colonel and also a starter at the course, nailed a hole in one during the tournament. Obviously, a closest-to-the-pin. Again big Frankie O'Dwyer favored us with a couple of songs and finished with Don's favorite, "Danny Boy". Nary a dry eye in the house. Tony then made the announcement that as was custom when Don was playing, he would like to buy everyone a round of drinks and there were bottles of Two-Buck-Chuck in the back with a thank you note from Don and Sally attached. That pretty much concluded the ceremonies for another fabulous great day in the life of Don Clausen.

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