Who wants to be the Berkeley’s Tiger Woods?
That’s the question the organizer of the Berkeley City Championship wants to answer on a yearly basis.
“I want to do anything I can to help golf grow in this area,” says Michael Clark, the tournament’s founder and chairperson. “This tournament is a great way to get the word out, as well as declaring a city champion.
The tournament, which is open to anyone who lives or works in Berkeley, will take place on Oct. 2 at Tilden Park Golf Course, and is open to people of all ages and skill levels.
Last year’s inaugural tournament was a great success, and not just from a competitive standpoint. Most of the proceeds from the event go to various local charities, and local businesses made a strong showing in both golfing and donations.
“It’s a serious golfing format, but there’s also the charitable aspect,” Clark says. “We give money to some very worthy causes.”
Last year’s beneficiaries included the Berkeley Community Fund, the Berkeley Public Education Foundation and Berkeley Youth Alternatives. Among others, the Berkeley Police Athletic League will get funds this year.
“John Lewis over at Berkeley PAL does great work with kids, and we will be donating $500 to the cause,” Clark says.
Clark spent more than 200 hours organizing last year’s event, and estimates he will spend even more time on this year’s tournament.
“I’ve got so many creative ideas, but I don’t have enough time to do them all,” he says.
Clark has gathered an advisory board and a volunteer board to help him organize, but he does the lion’s share of the work, says one volunteer.
“Michael is really the guiding light for the tournament,” says Joe Tomasik, an attorney who serves on the volunteer committee. “Our work is less than last year, since lots of our groundwork has been laid, but Michael is working just as hard as he did last year.”
Clark has tried to give all aspects of the event a Berkeley flavor, including the winners’ trophies. Both last year’s and this year’s trophies were designed and created by local artists.
“Most tournaments give you this dinky little generic plaque they picked up at a trophy shop.” Clark says. “This gives it a more local feel.”
The tournament brings together the golfing community in the area, Tomasik says. “There are a lot of golfers in Berkeley, but they might not know each other,” he says. “This gives us a chance to meet each other on the same course.”
That chance is something that former UC Berkeley professor Doris White enjoyed at last year’s tournament.
“I’m an enthusiastic golfer, and I had a really good time,” White says. “I enjoyed being paired with someone I didn’t know.”
Along with bringing current golfers together, Clark hopes the tournament will encourage non-golfers to try the sport.
“We want to get more people excited about golf,” he says.
Clark has worked with several youth groups, including a program at Tilden that involves 400 kids, and says he has found some untapped potential.
“We’ve identified some kids with really good golf skills,” he says.
With the increased exposure Tiger Woods has given the sport, Clark sees a great future for golf in Berkeley.
“Golf is really expanding to minorities and kids, and that’s a great thing,” he says. “We’re trying to pull in every element of the community we can.”
Registration for the Berkeley City Championship closes after Sept. 22. For more information or to register, call Michael Clark at 841-0972 or e-mail him at BCCGT@aol.com.