Virgen: Raising money and having fun is all par for the course

Late Monday afternoon during the ninth annual Mesa Verde Classic, Louise Fiduccia called out with three inviting words on Hole No. 17 at Mesa Verde Country Club.

"It's martini time," Fiduccia said to golfers who approached the 17th tee.

One of the golfers fired back, somewhat joking, "It's too late we're already drunk."

It was all in good fun, and all a part of the fundraising golf tournament that had an event at each hole, all under the theme of the 1960s.

At the 17th hole, Torelli Realty had the theme of "Let it all hang out," where Valerie Torelli and her staff served up martinis, and also gave out tie-dye headbands and a flower to each golfer.

There was also an In N Out truck nearby.

"We call it a party where golf is optional," said Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger. "You don't have to really know how to play golf. It's an event where you can come out and talk to community leaders on a great day and have fun."

The Mesa Verde Classic raises money for Costa Mesa United, the organization that helps build youth sports facilities in the area. The event has been successful in its nine years, raising roughly $1.2 million, Mensinger said.

This year's golf tournament was the best one yet, with about $213,000 raised ($160,000 net), Mensinger said.

There are several reasons why the tournament has been so successful. A big reason has been Mesa Verde Country Club, Mensinger, a Costa Mesa United board member, and others in the community agreed.

"This facility is a draw," said Katrina Foley, the school board trustee. "We have a lot business owners in the community or residents in the county who are coming out to the event and are willing to pay $400 because they wouldn't be able to play on this course otherwise."

Tom Sargent, the Mesa Verde Country Club head pro, smiled as he watched over the day's event. He talked about the tournament being more like a party as a band nearby played a cover of Led Zeppelin's, "Whole Lotta Love."

"The intent was to do something in the community for the community," Sargent said about MVCC's role with the golf charity event. "We're an integral part of the community. It feels great to contribute to support the city. We want to be part of the city and we want to help out."

It appeared many helped out to make the tournament a blast that raised a lot of money. There was nearly a volunteer to match each golfer at the event, as there were 124 volunteers and 131 golfers. Restaurant owners and business leaders sponsored each hole and made the event come to life with the 1960s theme.

Hole No. 3 seemed to be the favorite for the golfers during the tournament. That was where a couple young female dancers performed inside a cage. They were part of Bling Divas Entertainment, hired to help with Adam Kapko Insurance. The dancers didn't want to reveal their names for publication, but they weren't shy about their dancing and smiles to golfers.

"This has been so much fun," one of the dancers said.

It wasn't hump day, but a real life camel showed up at Hole No. 14, where, "Midnight at the Oasis," took place. Some male hippie character also walked through the course, doing his best to maintain the 60s vibe.

Next year, the theme is expected to be the 1970s, but the real reason for the event will continue to show.

"Everyone is here for the same reason," Torelli said. "The kids and the unity of the city."

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