Fortunato Golf Classic goes on despite wet weather

Published 12:36 am Sunday, May 2, 2010

NATCHEZ — Brief interruptions of hard rains were the only thing that put a damper on the Joe Fortunato Golf Tournament Saturday.

And that damper was more along the lines of soggy courses than downcast moods.

Roughly 100 golfers made their way to the Duncan Park Golf Course for a round of golf and to donate to a good cause. The Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame puts on the tournament every year in order to raise money for scholarships given to local athletes.

Organizer Joe Fortunato said he was happy with the turnout, and that the attitudes of the golfers was good, rain or shine.

“It’s really important that we raise money for these kids,” Joe Fortunato said. “All of the golfers here are really good about this. Even if the tournament got rained out, they wouldn’t want their money back.”

Joe’s wife, Catherine Fortunato, said the many volunteers are what helped make the tournament possible.

“It’s a real team effort,” Catherine Fortunato said. “There are a lot of people behind the scenes helping us. The chapter wants to thank all of the workers, sponsors and community for their support.”

Weather didn’t seem to affect the golfers too badly. Mayor Jake Middleton said his team was fighting through wet grounds and still maintaining its game.

“We’re doing OK,” Middleton said. “I’m not playing well, but the rest of my team is. The course looks great, and the weather hasn’t really affected us.”

Golfer Charlie Blaney said the weather was affecting playing conditions, but not the overall atmosphere of the tournament.

“The course is playing kind of slowly because the moisture content is high, but everyone’s having fun,” Blaney said.

Blaney also recognized the importance of the tournament when it comes to raising money for scholarships.

“It’s very important to the kids that they get these scholarships. Some of the kids that get them wouldn’t be able to go to college otherwise.”

Greg Brooking, the golf course superintendent at Duncan Park, said hosting the tournament was a privilege for himself and the park.

“The Fortunatos and all of the people that help run this do a great job,” Brooking said. “They really make it easy on us. Everything is so smooth and well run.”

Walt Brown, president of the chapter, said the idea to have a golf tournament was spawned so scholarship funding wouldn’t rely solely on general donations.

“Our first tournament was in August 1994,” Brown said. “It’s our chapter’s only fundraiser, and we appreciate everyone’s support. With the entry fees we get and the hole sponsors, it really helps us in raising money to give the scholarships away.”

J.J. Whitehead, who helps the chapter with the tournament, said Joe Fortunato’s heart for young people getting an education is a driving force in his life.

“He says that a thank you and a smile kids give after getting a scholarship is worth all the work,