Joined The Augusta Chronicle as a sports columnist in February 2001. Previously covered a myriad of sports including golf, NFL, NHL and college basketball in five years for the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. Served as a sports designer and editor at the Winston-Salem Journal, Newport News Daily Press and Charlottesville Daily Progress. Started professional career as a small college and minor-league baseball writer for the News & Daily Advance in Lynchburg, Va., in 1989.
Posted February 15, 2012 08:17 am

Els launches another benefit for autism

Edited from a press announcement on Tuesday from Riviera Country Club:


LOS ANGELES – World Golf Hall of Famer Ernie Els announced that registration is now open for the Els for Autism Golf Challenge, the largest international charity-driven amateur golf tournament in history.


The event will take place from April through September, 2012, with proceeds benefiting the Els for Autism Center of Excellence – a $30 million first-of-its-kind project that will feature a state-of-the-art education and research facility as well as a global digital learning platform to families all over the world with children on the autism spectrum, a disorder that affects one in 110 children and one in 70 boys.


The Center, as well as the Els for Autism Golf Challenge, is being spearheaded by Els, whose son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism more than four years ago. The 2011 Golf Challenge was a huge success thanks to Els’ long-time golf sponsors SAP, RBC and Callaway Golf. Els for Autism expects 2012 to be an even bigger year, with SAP leading the charge as Presenting Sponsor and RBC, Callaway Golf, Wine Spectator and new sponsor Trumpet Behavioral Health providing strong support as well as actively helping to form teams for the Golf Challenge.


“Years from now, people may remember me as a golfer and a major champion, but I'd like to be remembered as a father who took the issue of autism and tried to make a difference,” said Els. “The success of the Els for Autism Golf Challenge in 2011 far exceeded my expectations, and on behalf of my family and the thousands of families affected by autism, I’d like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to all of the participants, the PGA TOUR and its TPC Network, and all our sponsors, particularly SAP for opening their hearts and going above and beyond in support of this important initiative. This year’s event promises to be even better, and thanks to everyone’s collective efforts,
we’ll be able to deliver the best possible treatment to children on the autism spectrum around the world.”


The inaugural Els for Autism Golf Challenge in 2011 raised $1.8 million through direct support from nearly 9,000 donors and major corporate sponsors, with more than 1,700 amateurs competing. The 2012 format will remain the same, with two-person amateur teams competing in 30 best-ball format Super Regional events across the U.S. at the PGA Tour’s TPC clubs and other outstanding
golf properties this spring and summer.


The low net winning team and teams who fundraise $10,000 or more from each of the 30 events will move on to a final two-day Grand Finale extravaganza at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in late October. The Els Gallery Club is being introduced this year for individuals who wish to participate in the Golf Challenge without playing golf in a Super Regional event. These individuals can compete in teams of one or two to raise funds and awareness for Els for Autism and earn a chance to come to Las Vegas and participate in the Finale.


All of the teams that make it to the Finale will compete for prizes including luxury golf and wine tours to South Africa and Europe from Mantis, as well as Callaway prizes including personal fittings and complete sets of golf clubs. In addition, all entrants will be eligible to win a six-day Ultimate Irish Links Golf Tour sponsored by IRISH LINKS. The schedule of events, registration details, and information about the Els for Autism Center of Excellence can be found at Each team will register on the site, have their own team page, and will choose their own child on the spectrum that they play for (their “Honorary Captain.”) Teams will be able to e-mail their page to friends, family and colleagues, who will be able to text, make online, or mail in donations. Each team will have a goal of raising a minimum of
$2,500 to compete in their chosen event and $10,000 to join the festivities at the Finale in Las Vegas.


For more information, visit or