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Kiwanis shoots an ace with 20th golf tourney

There may be more than a few golfers in need of divine intervention to find the fairway at the 20th annual Duluth Kiwanis Club charity golf tournament on May 7. But organizers say it's only a coincidence that the tournament coincides with National Prayer Day.

However, club president Jim Johnson admits it's a bit of a miracle to reach the 20-year milestone. The club has a long history of civic involvement, but it says something about the group that the golf tournament has continued over such a long span.

"Kiwanis is known for its longevity, so it's not unusual that we'd have a fundraiser," Johnson said. "But it probably is unusual that we've kept up with a golf tournament all these years."

The Duluth club, which started in 1984, is proud of that longevity, and a reunion dinner will be held after the tournament to celebrate. Johnson said all past presidents are invited to attend. So far he hasn't been able to locate Bill Williamson - the club's first president - but Jim Sandlin - who presided over the club from 1986-87 - said he'll attend. Sandlin is a dentist in Lawrenceville.

On the golf side, Johnson is one of those guys who will be praying for good drives - "I'm just a duffer, not a golfer," he said. But charity tournaments like this are about raising money not lowering your score.

"And the fun part is getting out with the guys," said Johnson, who will be playing in a foursome made up of friends from his Sunday school class at Duluth United Methodist Church.

The Kiwanis Club of Duluth provides more than 1,500 hours of community service each year, taking on a wide range of projects. The golf tournament is the group's largest fund raiser, and Johnson said $20,000 was raised last year. He knows it may be tough to hit that mark again, but the Duluth Kiwanis are doing their best to make that happen.

"It was hard last year and it's hard this year. Everyone will tell you fundraising is tough in this environment," Johnson said. "But it's amazing how the community has still responded. It will be harder this year, but we're up to it. We'll just have to work a little harder."

The cost is $160 for an individual golfer at the tournament, which is held at St. Marlo Country Club. There is lunch and dinner, a golfer prize package and a gift card from the PGA Superstore in addition to hole-in-one prizes and raffle tickets. Sponsorships are also available.

Registration starts at 11 a.m., lunch is served at noon and the shotgun start is at 12:30 p.m. You can enter online by going to www.duluthkiwanis.org/golf. For more info, you can call Martin Birkbeck at 770-564-7053 or e-mail him at mbirkbeck@amfam.com.

Johnson, who has lived in Gwinnett for more than 20 years and in Duluth for more than a decade, is appreciative of the support the city has given the club.

"Duluth is a close-knit community," he said. "We have a lot of volunteers."

And on May 7 the Kiwanis Club will have a lot of golfers supporting its cause, which will help the club continue supporting its community.

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears in Wednesday's paper.

SideBar: If you go

What: 20th annual Duluth Kiwanis Club golf tournament

When: May 7

Where: St. Marlo Country Club, Duluth

Cost: $160 for individual golfer

More info: www.duluthkiwanis.org/golf