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Support Needed For Metro Golf Championship - "The Mackel"

Once upon a time, when leaving a fancy and expensive restaurant, the late Frank Mackel was heard to say, “It would have been cheaper if I had just eaten my money.’’

Mackel was plugged in to all things golf-related in New Orleans. No one, and I mean no one, knew more about this city’s golf scene. He spearheaded the revitalization of Bayou Oaks, the City Park complex that obviously hasn’t been the same since he left in 1999 to become director of golf at the Golf Club of New Orleans at Eastover.

He also was instrumental in starting the Men’s Metropolitan Amateur Championship with fellow pro Ronnie Benandi and a certain sportswriter from New Orleans’ daily newspaper. And that’s why the former sportswriter is writing.

The Metro became The Mackel after Mackel passed away on Sept. 11, 2001. The decision to rename the tournament, which began at Bayou Oaks in 1993, was a lay-up. The decision to pull the plug on it after 15 years was heart-wrenching, but with play dwindling after the 2005 levee failures in New Orleans, it was a necessary evil.

The levee failures ate The Mackel’s money. They also ate the Mackel’s best players. Eventually they ate the Mackel.

Then Lakewood Golf Club re-opened in 2009, spawning an idea that will come to fruition Aug. 21-22. Like Lakewood, where Frank was head professional for 12 years, The Mackel will celebrate another rebirth, starting slowly at first and hopefully growing into an event that will be bigger and better than ever with added emphasis on the game’s lifeblood, junior golfers.

The Mackel is blessed to have a dedicated committee -- pros Jimmy Headrick, Brad Weaver and Kelly Gibson, Judy, Travers and Fletcher Mackel, developer Richard Williams and with a couple of old retirees, Paul Buckley and myself -- proudly serving. But the tournament can’t take flight without crawling a little first. It needs an infusion of cash to do the things we dream about doing for the event and for Lakewood, the place where Frank’s career took off.

The committee has decided to solicit donations in three increments, Par ($125), Birdie ($250) and Eagle ($500). The money raised will go toward tournament operations and the erection of a first-class scoreboard at Lakewood, dedicated by Friends of Frank, i.e. the donors who will honored with placards on the scoreboard.

Birdie and Eagle donations come with some lagniappe. A Birdie will get you two complimentary rounds of golf at Lakewood. An Eagle comes with golf for four at Lakewood and a night-before-the-event cocktail party where Mackel stories will be swapped.

So that’s the pitch, Friends of Frank. On behalf of The Mackel committee and in the memory of Frank, I’m kindly asking that you pitch in to help us with our mission.