By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO August 8, 2003 The 2003 Maurice Stokes/Wilt Chamberlain Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament was held at Kutshers Country Club on Wednesday.
It featured a wide ranging cast of celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment, as the celebrities paired up wth a PGA pro and three amateurs for a day of challenging golf to benefit charity.
Local pros included Terence Hughes of Kutshers, Glenn Sonnenshein of Lochmor and Tarry Brae Golf Courses, Matt Kleiner of the Villa Roma Country Club and Jan Urso of the Nevele Grande Resort.
Originally an All-Star Charity Basketball Game, the event was founded in the summer of 1958 by Jack Twyman, who played in the NBA for 11 seasons and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. The game served as a fund raiser to help Twymans close friend and Cincinnati Royals teammate Maurice Stokes, who was permantly paralyzed during a hotly contested game against the Minneapolis Lakers.
Although Stokes passed away in 1970, his colleagues have continued the tradition at Kutshers to raise funds for the Maurice Stokes Foundation.
In 2000, the event changed from a basketball game to a golf tournament to raise money for NBA players from the 1940s, 50s and 60s who have fallen on hard times and did not receive the huge paychecks of todays athletes.
Last year, the annual event was renamed the Maurice Stokes/Wilt Chamberlain Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament.
As a teenager, Chamberlain worked as a bellhop at Kutshers, and up until his death in 1999, attended every Maurice Stokes benefit basketball game at the famed resort.
In 1907, Kutshers County Club was founded on a 200-acre farm by Louis and Fanny Kutsher, immigrants from Austria and Romania along with Louis brother Max Kutsher and his wife, Rebecca, as the Kutsher Brothers Farm House.
Today, the four-generation family-run hotel is a 1,200-acre resort with 400 guest rooms, full sports facilities and a summer camp.
During the 1940s, 50s and 60s, many college basketball players who were destined to become NBA legends worked at Kutshers as bellhops and bus boys to earn money for college and hone their skills in the hotels summer basketball tourneys.
Kutshers 18-hole PGA golf course stretchs 6,843 yards and is designed to test the mettle of pro and amateur alike. And even a few NBA stars.
The 2003 Maurice Stokes/Wilt Chamberlain Celebrity Pro-Am started out under rather misty skies. But Tony Darrow, an actor with some heavy Hollywood credits under his belt such as Analyze This and Analyze That opposite Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal, burned off the fog with a couple of ribald jokes that had the field of about 125 golfers just about rolling off the first tee.
Celebrity participants included: Billy Cunningham (Basketball Hall of Famer), Dolph Schayes (Basketball Fall of Famer), Ralph Kaplowitz (played in the first NBA game in 1946), Randy Smith (NBA player), Mel Davis (NBA player), Tom Hoover (NBA player), Luis Grillo (NBA official), Sean Corbin (NBA official), Ronnie Nunn (NBA official), Rory Sparrow (former NBA player), Dick McGuire (Basketball Hall of Famer), Otis Birdsong (four-time NBA All-Star), Dan Roundfield (former NBA player), Earl The Pearl Monroe (Basketball Hall of Famer), Rich Kotite (former New York Jets coach), Mal Z. Lawrence (comedian), Tony Darrow (actor), Freddie Roman (actor/comedian), Richie Guerin (NBA All-Star) and Bobby Wanzer (Basketball Hall of Famer).
NBA legend Earl The Pearl Monroe was teamed up with PGA pro Larry Furey as a five-some with amateurs Gary Puff, Tom Pallas and Jeff Cohen.
Its good for us guys who cant really play, but why we are here is even more important Monroe said. Its something that has been going on for a long time, and its helped a lot of people.
Mike Downey of the Country Club of Purchase recorded the low score among professionals with a 67. Hughes was second with a 68.
The team of pro Ryan Shaughnessy of Ridgeway Country Club, Dennis Geoghan, Dan Geoghan, Dave Bryant and Fred Perrino took first place in the team division. Second place went to the team of pro Tony DeStefano of Southern Dutchess Golf Course, Chris Bond, Rich Schaurin, Roger Shelley and Don Cronson.
The team of Hughes, Mark Kutsher, Chip Ennis, Casey Alexander and Skip Marini finished third.