MAYS LANDING -- Surfers and friends of Dean Randazzo are preparing to hit the links for the 8th annual Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation "Golf for A Cause" at Mays Landing Golf and Country Club on Saturday. The event is one of four annual fundraisers the organization holds to raise money for individuals struggling with cancer.
The $100 golf package includes lunch, greens fees, cart, practice shots, and barbecue dinner. The event begins at noon on Saturday with registration and lunch, followed by a "scramble" golf tournament at 1 p.m. Mays Landing Golf and Country Club will host the barbecue and after party at 6 p.m., open to the public for $25.
Randazzo, a professional surfer from Somers Point, started the organization 10 years ago during his first bout with Hodgkins Disease.
Randazzo was, and remains, the only New Jersey surfer to have competed on the elite Association of Surfing Professionals Mens World Tour. After several years surfing among the best in the world, cancer derailed his career. His efforts to return to form, overcoming three relapses and associated health issues, have become legendary in the surfing world.
In that time, the Foundation has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through Surf for A Cause, Paddle for A Cause, Freeze for A Cause, and Golf for A Cause. Golf for A Cause originally started out as a fun day for friends of the foundation to knock some balls around, but eight years later it's become a little more serious than that.
"That first year was kind of a reason to get out and play. It wasn't that competitive, but now there are six or seven foursomes that come out every year and they take it pretty seriously," said Foundation board member Adam Walcoff of Somers Point.
Randazzo, who splits his time between San Diego, Calif., and Somers Point, will be home for the event. He reports he is feeling his healthiest since the cancer returned in 2006.
"I like golf, but I don't play very often," he said. "I've heard the guys talk a lot of trash to each other about the tournament, so I am sure we will be heckling on the course in pure Jersey fashion."
Participants include firemen, policemen, restaurant owners, insurance agents, and realtors.
Walcoff is an attorney who grew up with Randazzo. He won the Masters division of the Freeze for A Cause surf contest in February and is a 15 handicap on the links. He and board president Dan Celluci have a friendly rivalry on the waves and the greens.
Walcoff counts local Tony LePre of Linwood, a manager with Kline Construction, as the strongest golfer with a 4 handicap. Among the golfing surfers is Sam Hammer of Lavallette with a 14 handicap. Surf photographer Donald Cresitello of Manasquan consistently finishes in the top third.
"Dean is much better on a surfboard," said Walcoff. "Growing up, he was good at every sport he tried - baseball, football, skateboarding and especially surfing. There's this gene you have when you're that kind of an athlete. It's hard to get very good at golf when you play once a week, much less twice year, like he does. But he still gets very competitive about it."
Participants include firemen, policemen, restaurant owners, insurance agents, and realtors. They travel from as far away as Pennsylvania and New England. Many are locals who grew up surfing with Randazzo.
"At my office, we get two or three offers a week to golf in these 'best ball' events. I think that people have to pick and choose which events to do, especially in this economy. It's a real testament to this event that the same people keep coming out every year to support the cause," Walcoff said.
Randazzo looks to surf next in the Quiksilver Classico in Mazatlan, Mexico, the Copa Quiksilver El Salvador, and the Quiksilver PE Pro in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, all in June.