Here’s your chance to play golf with Urlacher, Thomas, Miller and Begay

TV reporters J.P. Murrieta, left, and Orlando Sanchez interview Notah Begay. (Rio Rancho Observer—GARY HERRON photo)

SANTA ANA — Notah Begay III, the Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F) and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque (JCC) announced on Monday the establishment of the Rio Grande Charity Slam (RGCS), a star-studded annual golf event that will benefit the NB3F and the JCC.

The inaugural RGCS will take place June 27 at Santa Ana Golf Club; Begay will host a free golf instructional clinic for up to 150 youth golfers June 26.

The Title Sponsor of the Rio Grande Charity Slam is Consolidated Solar Technologies; the presenting sponsor is the Santa Ana Golf Club.

“I’ve always been so proud to represent the state of New Mexico and the RGCS provides a tremendous opportunity to showcase our rich history, tradition and culture,” Begay said. “It’s a way to give back to organizations and causes that are positively impacting our youth and enriching their lives.”

“JCC is honored to work with Notah Begay to make a difference in the lives of New Mexico’s kids,” said Art Gardenswartz, JCC board member.

The RGCS will raise critical funds to support the important work of Begay’s foundation and the Jewish Community Center, including their efforts to promote physical activity, health and wellness; combat Type II diabetes and childhood obesity; and serve needy families and children.

Four-time PGA Tour winner and commentator for the Golf Channel and NBC Sports, Begay will be joined at the tournament by a number of celebrities, including former Lobo standouts Brian Urlacher, who had a 13-year career with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, and Kenny Thomas, who had an outstanding 13-year career in the NBA after becoming Lobos’ career leader in rebounds (he is now second in career scoring).

Also expected to play are Johnny Miller, one of the top golfers in the world during the mid-1970s and now the lead golf analyst for NBC Sports; Mike Weir, a PGA Tour golfer from Canada, best known for winning the 2003 Masters; and Tim Herron, a UNM graduate and a four-time PGA Tour event-winner who has played in 494 PGA events and won more than $18.5 million in prize money.

Begay said more celebrities will be expected, with announcements to follow. He said he’d try to encourage one of his former Stanford teammates, Tiger Woods, to play; Hall of Fame golfer Nancy Lopez could be a future guest. Begay said she will be playing in a golf event that weekend in June this year.

The RGCS will be limited to a total of 160 players. Participants will be treated to a VIP Welcome Reception dinner on June 26; significant “face time” with Begay, including a 30-minute golf clinic; and an outstanding golf experience that will include gear from Nike and numerous on-course entertainment features.

“The Pueblo of Santa Ana has a long-standing relationship with Notah and his NB3 Foundation,” said Alden Paquin, chairman of the Santa Ana Golf Club. “We are honored and excited to host the inaugural Rio Grande Charity Slam at Santa Ana Golf Club. We possess a deep respect for the NB3 Foundation’s commitment to improving the health of Native Americans and are confident their partnership with the Jewish Community Center for this prestigious event will bring great results for all involved.”

Rio Grande Charity Slam sponsorship opportunities are still available (see riograndecharityslam.com).

The Notah Begay III Foundation, created in 2005, has a mission to prevent type 2 diabetes and its leading cause, childhood obesity, through sports and health and wellness programs that are based on proven best practices. This holistic approach to programming and evaluation addresses Native Americans’ nutrition, physical fitness, and community-building needs, with the goal of producing measurable, long-term change in the health of tribal communities.

The JCC of Greater Albuquerque, founded in 2000, is a non-profit organization, open to all regardless of age or religious affiliation.

The JCC mission is to enrich our community by practicing the values of Jewish life.