The Payson Public Safety Christmas for Kids Golf Tournament features one of the most unusual formats of all the benefit tournaments held in the Rim Country.
It’s unique because three-person teams have the option the evening before the tournament of bidding at an auction to have a public safety officer become the fourth member of their squad.
That bidding often turns spirited as some well-heeled players jockey to have their favorite law enforcement officer join them for golf, hijinks and a few good-natured laughs.
Former Payson Police officer Charlene Hunt remembers in past years, when the economy was flourishing, the bidding sometimes peaked at $3,000.
This year, the tournament will be played Saturday, Aug. 27 and the auction and steak dinner will begin at 6 p.m., Friday, Aug. 26 at Payson Golf Course. The event will include a no-host bar and door prizes. Also at the auction, Mulligans will be up for sale.
The tournament tees off at 8 a.m., Aug. 27 with a shotgun start.
While the tournament centers on golf, the real purpose behind the festivities is an admirable one — to raise money to purchase Christmas gifts for needy children around the Rim Country.
In December 2010, Public Safety Christmas for Kids (PSCFK) offered 266 children from 115 families the opportunity to grab more than $50 each worth of gifts from Walmart.
For the shopping trip, public safety officers helped the children pick out their gifts accompanying the children through the store.
Payson Police Sgt. Jason Hazelo shopped with Lidia Romero and her four children.
One child, Diego Jose, 5, picked out a bicycle and his sister Jhanet Salasar, 9, chose an art kit and the board game Sorry.
If families needed the money to buy clothing and could not afford toys, they went to the Santa Shop at Bashas’ where volunteers gave away donated toys.
This year’s goal is to “raise the amount of donations to allow us to open up our program to more in the community,” said PSCFK board member Andrea Hamm.
Entry fee into the tournament is $375, which includes green fees, golf cart, dinner and prizes, but not the purchase of a public safety team member.
The minimum bid for an officer to join a team is $75 and must be paid the night of the auction.
Public safety agencies involved in Christmas for Kids include the Gila County sheriff’s and attorney’s offices, the Northern Gila County Firefighters Association, Department of Public Safety and Payson Police.
For more information, call PPD officer Mark Hillegas at (928) 595-1617 or Michelle Keegan at (928) 474-2208, ext. 2833.
Entry forms are available at the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway.