Giving Back with The First Tee

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Dec 13, 2017 at 5:57 PM

Gently-used golf donations go a long way.

Take a look around your garage. Chances are, there are some golf items you just don’t use, or need, anymore. But instead of throwing these things away, one group of Sedgefield members found a way to donate items where they’re needed most.

The First Tee of the Triad serves 1,500 kids, ages seven to 18, through golf clinics, classes, and camps. Last spring, the Cardinal Ladies Golf Association at Sedgefield’s Dye course, led by Nancy Patefield, collected gently-used golf bags, clubs, apparel, shoes, and more for The First Tee. And coming up soon, another donation is planned.

“We realized we have so much extra stuff that we take advantage of,” says Patefield. “How many golf towels do we really need? We all have an abundance of things to donate.” Patefield moved to Greensboro from Texas last year, where her home club did a collection drive for USGA.

“We collected our old clubs, bags, balls, clothes, shoes, basically anything that was gently used or new, to donate to those girls,” she recalls. “So when I got to Sedgefield, I found out about The First Tee and asked about the possibility of donating to that cause. We put it out to the Sedgefield Dye membership and pretty soon collected a van full of stuff for both boys and girls.”

The initial donation was a big success, and Patefield hopes now that the word is out, even more Sedgefield members will make a bigger effort to help The First Tee. Donations will be accepted through May 2018, making it the perfect time for early spring-cleaning.

“We donated everything from golf towels and balls to shoes, hats, skorts, and even a seven-wood, because it was giving one member a fit!,” says Patefield. The items that help kids in The First Tee may seem insignificant, but to those kids, even the smallest things make a difference.

“Some of these kids don’t have a collared shirt,” says Ellen Lapierre, director of volunteers and girl’s events for The First Tee of the Triad. “They love to wear those — it makes them feel like a golfer! Junior clubs are most beneficial, but womens’ clubs are great too, especially for teenagers who come in and don’t have any of the gear.”

According to Lapierre, the program gives kids a road map not only for success on the golf course, but for life in general. “We want these kids to have the best future they can have,” she says. “We want to make these kids good golfers, but make them even better people. Sure, we teach them skills like putting, chipping, and course management. But we’re also teaching them, right from the beginning, how to shake someone’s hand, how to look people in the eye, and how to introduce yourself to someone. And most importantly, how to create and attain your goals.”

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The Best Secret in Wine Comes to McConnell Golf

by Lauren Barry

 Dec 15, 2016 at 3:50 PM

With nearly 9,000 wineries in the United States wine enthusiasts seemingly have an endless assortment from which to choose. But do they? It surprised us to learn just five companies control nearly 80% of every wine label you see on retail shelves and restaurant lists! A virtual company, Cellar Angels, is looking to change that by making higher quality wine more accessible and also benefitting charities in the process. We sat down with founder Martin Cody after hearing high praise for the wine seminar events Cellar Angels has held at various McConnell Golf locations including Raleigh Country Club, Grande Dunes, Sedgefield Country Club and Old North State Club.

The people we’ve spoke with indicated they’ve never heard of the wines you poured and they were all fantastic. Why is that?

I owned a bricks and mortar wine store in downtown Chicago for seven years and learned firsthand how the 3-tier (wine producer, wine distributor and wine retailer/restaurant) system operates. It’s an efficient system for the mass produced wines which grace every wine store, big-box chain and often restaurant list across the country. If you make 50,000 cases or more it’s a terrific system. If you produce under 5,000 cases, for example like 90% of the 900+ wineries in Napa, the system is terrible. Anyone who has been to Napa or Sonoma has seen this up close when the fall in love with a winery and ask “Why can’t I get this back home?” We solve that problem.

How do you find the wines Cellar Angels features to their members? Also, how much is membership?

Membership is currently complimentary and anyone of legal drinking age can sign up at I’ve been traveling to California wine country, specifically Napa and Sonoma for over twenty years. Since founding Cellar Angels in 2010 I’ve averaged about 4 trips per year and have amassed extensive relations with the artisan, small, handcrafted and boutique wineries. Many of these wineries only make their wines available to their private mail list customers, however they love the opportunity to benefit charity and Cellar Angels affords them the best chance to both grow awareness among fine wine enthusiasts and raise money at the same time. Some wineries produce under a 100 cases and we’ve actually poured some of these at McConnell clubs during our private seminars and the feedback has been sensational. It’s just a fantastic opportunity for members to both taste and order something so exclusive that few people will have access to. And raise funds for charity at the same time.

Numerous current and former PGA tour players have wineries or actually make wine. Why do you think golf and wine make such a good, shall we say, ‘pairing’?

Well played! Golf is a special, special game and when you have the privilege of playing it on courses like those in the McConnell Golf stable, the excitement, enjoyment and fulfillment are all greatly enhanced. The same is true in wine. You could play run-of-the-mill golf courses your entire life, but when you step to the first tee at Sedgefield, Treyburn or Old North State, your pulse quickens and you know you’re in for a treat as great attention is given to every detail. It is truly golf at its finest. The same is true in great wine - why drink mediocrity when excellence can be delivered to your door via the click of a mouse? The attention to detail and quality by someone actually walking the vines each day, hand harvesting and hand sorting to select the best grapes, comes through in the bottle. For those aspiring to the luxury lifestyle, great golf and great wine go hand in hand. Membership in McConnell and Cellar Angels indeed has its privileges.

Coming to a club near you

Cellar Angels will be providing several private wine seminars across McConnell Golf clubs in 2017. These are guided seminars tasting through five exclusive wines not available to the general public and expertly paired with small plates from the respective club’s chef. 

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Making Dreams Come True

by Jessie Ammons

 Feb 29, 2016 at 5:00 PM

No effort is too small to make a difference, although grand gestures never hurt either. Here’s a look at two groups of McConnell Golf members leaving a mark — one that feels like a hug — on their communities.

Grin and Bear It

Once a week, a meeting room at Old North State Club gets a little stuffy: quite literally filled with piles of stuffing. Dozens of women arrive with sewing machines, scissors, and fabric to transform the room into a teddy bear factory for a few hours.

Every stuffed animal is handmade by volunteer sewers. The troupe of more than 200 plush bears is for Victory Junction, a nearby nonprofit camp founded to honor the memory of the late fourth-generation racecar driver Adam Petty. On land donated by Richard and Lynda Petty, the site hosts weeklong camps for children with serious medical conditions or chronic illnesses. The kids experience a classic spring-break or summer camp experience while also receiving the medical resources and attention they need.

A huge part of that experience is their bear. A NASCAR-themed stuffed toy greets each camper, and the bear is his or her companion throughout the week and theirs to take home and keep. It becomes a loving token of an idyllic childhood experience, crafted in an unassuming clubhouse meeting room.

Wishful Thinking

On February 20, dozens of members and their guests gathered at Sedgefield Country Club to celebrate Spencer, a spunky 5-year-old boy from High Point, North Carolina who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Through a partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, McConnell Golf members helped grant Spencer’s wish of traveling to the Disney theme parks in Florida, a trip often too difficult and expensive for a young leukemia patient to make. In September 2014, Spencer and his parents, Wayne and Jennifer, and sister, Olivia, enjoyed a full week at Walt Disney World.

In a nod to the magical visit, the gala at Sedgefield was Legoland-themed, and Spencer, Wayne, Jennifer, and Olivia were all in attendance. Executive chefs from every McConnell property created a memorable lineup of buffet options, from chicken osso bucco and beer-smoked pork belly to surf-and-turf sliders and beef tacos.

Spencer was the inspiration for live and silent auction bidders, who raised $39,812 that night. The money raised will go to a continued partnership with Make-A-Wish. Wishes usually cost around $6,000 to grant, so many more are in store for the coming year.

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