Rapiscan Systems Classic tees off with Pro-Am at Grand Bear Golf Club

The two-year hiatus is over. Coast golf fanatics can rejoice for the return of the Rapiscan Systems Classic this weekend, but today, your average golfers stood shoulder to shoulder with the pros.

At the Grand Bear Golf Club in Saucier — the Rapiscan Systems Classic Golf Tournament will tee off this weekend, but ahead of that is the Pro-Am. Just as the name implies, each pro plays in a team of four, with three golfers being amateurs.

It’s a chance for hobbyists to learn from Hall of Famers and PGA Tour champions – like Ernie Els and John Daly. And it’s a chance for these golfing giants to warm up before the tournament.

Wiley Anderson, the marketing manager for the Rapiscan Systems Classic, was there making sure everything went smoothly just before tee-off at 10:30 this morning. “It’s just a fun experience all around. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for your average golfer to play with professionals, learn some things, get to have lunch with them.”

Ken Gestring is former Volunteer of the Year for the tournament. He was out there playing nine holes with the pros – they were originally scheduled for double that, but harsh weather was churning on the horizon. “Just to get that closeness of seeing how well they hit the ball – sometimes you don’t get to hear that on TV, just the crispness of the ball when they strike at it and everything is just phenomenal.”

And running parallel to all of this is the Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s Birdies for Charity – where they match every donation made. They’ve raised $1.6 million this year, and those funds go to nonprofits in Mississippi’s lower six counties. “So those 18 charities are guaranteed five percent up to $100,000 for the match, so a pretty great opportunity for charities to make some extra money.”

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