Ga. residents tee off for charity

Pair plays at city course as part of tour to fight cancer

June 16, 2008|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,Sun Reporter

Two men from Atlanta rolled through Baltimore in a luxury coach early yesterday, stopping at the city's oldest public golf course to play 18 holes.

It was their 11th game in their 11th state in as many days.

And in the next six weeks, Bill Evans, a commercial real estate developer, and Craig Forney, a golf course owner, plan to tee off at public courses in all 50 states.

They call their "50 in 50" trip an example of extreme fundraising, and the purpose is to raise money and awareness for breast cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma.

They are focusing on three types of cancers that are common and treatable with early detection. Neither man has had cancer. None of their close family members have died from the disease.

"This is about giving back," said Evans, 50, driving a golf cart though the back nine at Clifton Park Golf Course in Northeast Baltimore yesterday. "We just felt that this attacks so many people from so many walks of life."

They hope people will learn about their trip via media reports and go to their Web site to donate funds and through corporate sponsorship.

In each state, the pair tries to visit hospitals to meet with cancer patients and researchers. Yesterday they had appointments with researchers from Johns Hopkins Hospital. Eventually they will distribute the funds they raise to some of the programs they've visited, but they said they have not yet decided who will get money or how it will be allocated.

"I get questions a lot about our motivation," said Evans. "It's not a vacation. On golf trips you play and then go back to the club. We are on the run. We are updating our Web site. We are meeting with [cancer] researchers. It is a grind. But it is worth it."

Evans said that he is bankrolling the trip and declined to say how much money it is costing. They've hired a camera crew to produce a 60-minute documentary about the trip, a Web master, an assistant and a driver. And they plan to write a book about their experiences.

The bus is outfitted with two plasma televisions and a small kitchenette, and it is strewn with laptops. "It is our clubhouse," Forney said. The two golfers bunk in the coach but take showers in the hotel rooms of their hired help.

Yesterday morning, they booked the first tee time at Clifton Park, which meant they started playing at 5:26 a.m. It was one of the few open slots on Father's Day.

The two encouraged each other along the way. When Evans putted on the 12th hole, Forney yelled, "Let him in!" as the ball sailed past the hole. Later, Forney's ball landed next to a drainage pipe far from the hole on the 14th. "It's not the first time and it won't be the last," he said.

The two met playing golf about 10 years ago. Forney was the pro at a public course where Evans played. Now they own the Fayetteville Golf Club in Georgia. They have some rules: No complaining. Finish each putt. "There are no gimmies," Evans said.

But there were a handful of do-overs. One came when a passing Baltimore City police patrol car distracted Evans.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

Readers can follow Evans' and Forney's trip at www.the50in50.com.

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