Trustmark pro-am tourney raises thousands for hospital

A recent golf tournament promises to make life better for patients and families at the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital. Hundreds of Northsiders recently participated in the Trustmark Children’s Hospital Pro-Am Golf Tournament.

The event raised approximately $125,000 for the Friends of the Children’s Hospital, which will use the money to support the hospital’s Child Life program.

Dr. Bob Abney, who has co-chaired the pro-am for 24 years, said this year’s tournament was the largest yet. More than 340 players competed on three golf courses.

“The charity is what appeals to the people. If you have to pick a charity that will likely bring in players and support (Children’s Hospital would) be one of them,” he said.

Abney also credits the tournament’s success to the relationships he and event leaders have built with volunteers and sponsors, as well as to the tournament’s cost and convenience.

To allow as many players as possible to compete, the event is played at three locations: Annandale, Reunion and the Country Club of Jackson. Players compete as teams of five and are coupled with a golf professional from Mississippi, Alabama or Louisiana, Abney said.

Winning teams were recognized at each course.

This year, 285 amateur golfers participated, along with 57 professionals, up from 85 or 90 in the tournament’s first year, Abney said. “When we increased it from one golf course to three, we thought, ‘why don’t we make this a statewide event,’” he said. “We occasionally have some players from Hattiesburg and Grenada and still have a few teams from Yazoo City, but the support comes from the Metro Jackson area.”


Friends Executive Director Tena McKenzie credits the tournament’s growth, in part, to publicity associated with the Children’s Hospital’s capital campaign, entitled “Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi.”

The hospital is working to raise $100 million to construct a new hospital, and has “thus far topped $57 million,” said hospital spokeswoman Annie Oeth.

Plans include expanding the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, a new children’s heart center and pediatric intensive care unit, a new pediatric imaging center, state-of-the-art operating suites and a new outpatient clinic.

Also, there is strong support for the Child Life program.

Funds raised from the tournament go to pay for three Child Life professionals, who, among other things, work to improve the quality of life for patients and their families during their stays at Batson.

Child Life affects “nearly every one that is admitted in to the hospital,” Abney said.

Photo 1: First place Annandale winners (from left) Mike Woolsey, Carey Weigand, Kerry Marshall, Olly Thompson, BJ Huffstatler and Jim Warren, KLLM team

Photo 2: The winning team at the County Club of Jackson include George and Ben Yarbrough, Ricky King, Brad Whittington, Dencil Johnson, Robert Stell.

Photo 3: Reunion first place team included Neil Trim, Jack Haynes, Ann Calhoon, Teresa Dottley, Lisa Horsley, Jack Haynes and Tracie Tolbert,