Ranches reap rewards from tourney at VCC

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2003

[6/12/03]Good golf for a good cause will be the name of the game Friday at Vicksburg Country Club, when the course hosts the 17th annual Mississippi Sheriff’s Boys and Girls Ranches Charity Golf Tournament.

The event benefits the Mississippi Sheriff’s Association’s Boys and Girls Ranches, a pair of orphanages. Last year’s tournament raised about $3,400 for the ranches, and Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace was hoping for a similar turnout this year.

The entry fee for the tournament is $50, and includes lunch, a cart, and greens fee. Lunch will be served at noon, and the tournament begins at 1:30 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to first- and second-place teams in each flight.

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“The citizens of Warren County have always opened their arms to the kids at the ranch,” Pace said, adding that golfers can register for the three-person scramble until the 1:30 p.m. tee-off on Friday. “As long as you have your team together you can come out, but last year we ran out of carts. As long as there’s carts, we will continue to accept registrations.”

Vicksburg Country Club pro Kent Smith is expecting a packed course for the tournament.

“It’s usually a pretty good field, probably around 80 golfers,” Smith said. “It’s for a good cause.”

The Boys Ranch, located in Columbus, was founded in 1977 as an orphanage for children with nowhere else to turn children whose parents had died and had no other relatives, or no suitable adoptive parents. In 1984, a Girls Ranch was started in Greene County.

Such children are recommended to the ranches by a county sheriff, or through a youth court, then adopted by the house parents of the facility and raised on the ranch. The children have chores and responsibilities on the working ranch, which is different from a typical orphanage, and usually stay until they are adults.

“These are children that have fallen through the cracks. They are not disciplinary problems. They just have nowhere else to go,” Pace said.

Each year, sheriff’s departments around the state have fundraisers to benefit the ranches. In the past, Warren County has put on horse shows and bass tournaments. Since 1986, however, the main fundraiser has been the golf tournament.

Pace, who has been Warren County sheriff since 1996, is an enthusiastic sponsor of the tournament, but has never played in it.

“I’m not a golfer, I never have played golf, but I certainly will be out there to cheer everyone on,” he said with a laugh.