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Rio Grande Charity Slam inaugural event opens today

SANTA ANA PUEBLO – It’s Year 1 – with many more to come.

That’s the goal of Notah Begay III when it comes to the Rio Grande Charity Slam, which gets under way today with a free junior golf clinic at Santa Ana Golf Club.

The event that he hopes becomes another spicy annual New Mexican tradition also has a private banquet tonight for sponsors and tournament participants.

The celebrity golf tournament is Friday at 1:30 p.m. at Santa Ana.

“This is a starting point for us,” Begay told the Journal. “We’ve had great response from corporations in New Mexico and New Mexico-based people who love giving back to our community. Our job now is to demonstrate that it’s a good thing, that people can benefit from the network and benefit from all of the positive attributes of the event.”

University of New Mexico football legend and presumed future NFL Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, golf broadcaster and two-time major champion Johnny Miller, and ex-Lobo and PGA Tour star Tim Herron are among those scheduled to participate in the fundraiser for the Notah Begay 3 Foundation and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque.

Event officials are hoping to raise a combined $200,000.

The public is invited to attend Friday’s tournament. There is no admission charge.

The tournament itself is just a fun deal in which teams will play a modified scramble – or shamble format (using the best tee shot, then playing their own ball to the hole).

There are 180 players who signed up to play, filling the field weeks ago.

Begay plans on attracting more celebrities each year of the event and hopes to have some current PGA Tour players next year. He said his former Stanford University roommate, teammate and longtime friend Tiger Woods, and LPGA Hall of Fame golfer Nancy Lopez, have said they will someday play in it.

Begay, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, is an analyst for Golf Channel, and says “the plan is to get TV coverage of the tournament down the road.”

The NB3F, established in 2005, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It addresses the profound health and wellness issues impacting Native American children.

The mission of NB3F is to reduce the incidences of obesity and diabetes and advance the lives of Native American children through sports and wellness programming.