Held locally for the first time on Tuesday, the 6th annual John Morris Golf Classic raised $40,000 for three charities, including the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) as more than 100 jockeys, trainers, owners and racing enthusiasts played 18 holes at Santa Anita Golf Course, located just a furlong away from The Great Race Place.
With Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith serving as an unofficial Master of Ceremonies, jockey Drayden Van Dyke registered a hole in one on Santa Anita’s 15th hole, a difficult 189-yard par three. As a result, Van Dyke, who employed a hybrid four-wood for his Ace, got the keys to a 2017 John Deere Gator, utility vehicle.
“It was unbelievable,” said Van Dyke. “Really, I played (lousy) all day and I hit that one good shot. I set up normal and when I made contact, it was flush. It was going right at the flag and it bounced once and it disappeared. In my mind, I thought ‘I used too much club’ and I thought it probably went off the back of the green.
“My cart was first off the tee and when I drove up, the flag was leaning over at a funny angle and one of my partners said ‘It’s in the hole!’ I thought, ‘It can’t be,’ but I looked and sure enough, it was a Titleist One…And I said ‘Holy cow!’ and everybody was high-fiving.
“I didn’t even know it at the time, but then people started telling me I won a John Deere tractor. It was absolutely amazing. I won a John Deere Gator and it looks like some people that played in the tournament are going to buy it off me, so I’ll donate half of whatever I make on that and donate it to the PDJF.”
Van Dyke then related that not only did he register his first-ever Ace, but the golden shot also enabled his four-man team to win the shotgun start, best ball tournament by one stroke.
“It was an incredible day. Mike (Smith) and Darrel Haire (Western Regional Manager for the Jockeys’ Guild) were in a cart, driving all over the course, keeping everybody loose and it was so much fun. Everybody on the team (which included jockey agent Matt Nakatani and exercise rider David Meah) won a Calloway driver and on top of that, I won a separate raffle and won another Calloway driver!”
In addition to the PDJF, Easter Seals Cardinal Hill (based in Lexington, KY) and Project Walk (Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Center) will also benefit from Tuesday’s John Morris Golf Classic.