It was about memories and money.
Those were the two biggest takeaways from the 10th Bruce Edwards ALS Celebrity Golf Classic held Monday at Congressional Country Club near Washington, D.C.
More than $380,000 was raised for Edwards’ foundation, lifting the total amount the event has donated for ALS research at The Robert Packard Center to more than $7 million in the last decade. Edwards’ foundation overall has raised more than $10 million for ALS research.
The largest donation in Monday’s auction was $70,000 by two brothers to play a round of golf with Hall of Famer Tom Watson – who Edwards caddied for more than 20 years – and New York Times and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Tom Friedman at a private club in California.
Watson and New York Times bestselling author John Feinstein were both on hand to spearhead the fundraising efforts. Feinstein, who wrote “Caddy For Life” just before Edwards died of ALS in 2004, along with Watson created the foundation to honor Edwards’ life and find a cure for the disease.
According to the ALS Foundation, 15 people are diagnosed every day with ALS – more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease – and as many as 30,000 people are affected by it.
“Let’s face it, the reason we do this tournament is to raise as much money as possible,” Feinstein said. “We’ve been very successful in that regard.”
The day also is about remembering Edwards, one of the game’s top caddies who died in 2004 at 49. Mike “Fluff” Cowan, a Congressional member and one of the most recognizable caddies on the PGA Tour with his bushy, gray mustache, has the role of trying to get as many of Edwards’ contemporaries to the event as possible.
“Everybody had a great time,” said Bill Leahey, who caddied for Lou Graham, Steve Melnyk and John Mahaffey. “We rented a house about 3 ½ miles from Congressional and caddies from all over the U.S. came to talk about Bruce and the old times.”
In addition to Watson, 11-time PGA Tour winner John Cook was at Congressional to honor Edwards.
There had been speculation this might be the last tournament – every year since Edwards’ death, it gets harder to raise money. Feinstein said no decision has been made, but organizers were pleased with this week’s results.
“There’s a good chance we’ll be back in 2020,” Feinstein said. “There may come a time when we just hold a dinner as a fundraiser, but that decision has not yet been made.”