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Amherst Chamber of Commerce golf tourney becomes proven fundraiser for scholarship

AMHERST — An annual golf tournament to be staged Monday, the biggest fundraiser of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, will again benefit Amherst Regional High School’s business program.

Chamber officials expect the tournament, now in its 10th year, to raise in excess of $5,000 that will support educational initiatives and provide two $1,000 scholarships to seniors who will pursue studies in a business-related field at the University of Massachusetts.

Joan Temkin, marketing and membership director at the chamber, said when the golf tournament began in 2004, organizers were looking to partner with a nonprofit entity. After nine years on the Amherst Regional School Committee, she floated the idea of having the beneficiary be area students.

“We suggested as a business organization it would be a great idea to support business education at the schools,” Temkin said.

Jim Conlon, chairman of the Golf Committee, said this has proven to be a wise choice.

“We decided that supporting the business education program was a wonderful tie-in to the chamber’s mission of advancing business interests and economic vitality,” Conlon said.

Organizers contacted Missy Shea, who oversees the business program, which annually serves 125 to 150 students, some of whom are also members of the Future Business Leaders of America. The money goes to a variety of projects, such as a teacher appreciation breakfast, field trips, textbooks and videos.

The money will be raised from a raffle of two New England Patriots tickets at the tournament. Up to 200 tickets will be sold, generating $3,000 to $4,000.

Temkin said some students also come to the tournament and act as volunteers, helping golfers carry their bags or supervise the holes.

“We try as much as possible to let our membership understand this is an investment in the future,” Temkin said.

The money for the scholarships comes from Cooley Dickinson Hospital, which is a co-sponsor of the tournament.

Some 128 golfers, in teams of four, are expected to play in the tournament, which starts with a lunch, a putting contest and ends with a dinner and silent and live auction at Hickory Ridge Country Club.

“The tournament has been very strongly supported, a real business-to-business networking event, “ Conlon said. “It’s become a popular way for people to be with their clients, patrons and friends and to have a day outside the office in a different environment and a different perspective.”

Temkin said the chamber uses the tournament to bring in $10,000 to $12,000 a year, supplementing the dues that cover operating expenses.

There is a $125 per person entry fee, with participants each getting a baseball hat with their name on it.

The tournament’s 10th year marks a return to Hickory Ridge, where the event had been staged until last year, when uncertainty about the course, bought at foreclosure auction only a few months before the tournament, forced organizers to relocate the event to The Orchards in South Hadley.

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