Golf tournament supports Westfield hospital


Jason Willebrandt, Pete Miller, Bill Hipwell and Scott Jagoda from the Brocton American Legion pose for a portrait while competing in the Westfield Memorial Hospital Foundation’s 19th Annual Golf Tournament. Photo by Demetrius Freeman.

Patrick Hosken | Staff Writer

The Chautauqua Golf Club regularly hosts a variety of charity events, most notably the Office Depot Pro-Am Tournament and the Sports for Kids Golf Tournament. Last Friday, both frequent and occasional golfers gathered at the Golf Club to support local hospital care in the Westfield Memorial Hospital Foundation 19th Annual Golf Tournament.

With 160 players, the event raised almost $40,000 — all benefiting Westfield Memorial Hospital. According to Patricia DiPalma, director of development at Westfield Memorial Hospital Foundation, the money raised will be used to update equipment in the hospital’s operating room, including purchasing a new orthopedic surgical drill.

In addition, community members donated more than $25,000 worth of gifts, prizes and food for the tournament, DiPalma said. This included golf gear, gift baskets, gift certificates and more.

“To me, it shows that the community is incredibly supportive of this hospital,” she said.

Located about 12 miles north of the Institution, Westfield Memorial serves those in the immediate local community, a primarily rural area. Because of this, the fundraising tournament is crucial because it provides funds necessary to keep Westfield Memorial maintained, according to Karen Surkala, vice president of operations for the hospital.

Westfield Memorial’s goal is to treat critically injured patients and send them to larger hospitals, where medical staffs can provide further care when necessary, Surkala said. Westfield Memorial’s proximity to the community may help save lives, she said, with Brooks Memorial Hospital about 30 miles away in Dunkirk and WCA Hospital about 17 miles away in Jamestown.

Surkala said she’s grateful to the Golf Club staff members for their continued enthusiasm in the annual tournament — the foundation’s largest fundraiser each year.

“We get tremendous support from the general manager, the head pro and the staff to keep us running this (tournament) year after year,” she said.

The Golf Club’s general manager is Jack Voelker, who said he likes the continued partnership between the Golf Club and the surrounding community.

“Charitable outings are an important part of what we do at the golf course,” Voelker said. “Clearly, it’s an element of our annual business, but just as importantly, they’re a way in which we participate in the community in which we work and in which we’re located.”

Since the Golf Club has two courses to utilize, Voelker said, charity events don’t disrupt other players from indulging in a day on the green. The Westfield Memorial event was played on the Lake Course, leaving the neighboring Hill Course open for recreational use not affiliated with the tournament.

Voelker said the tournament serves local golfers, Golf Club members and individuals who want to support a worthy cause. The Westfield Memorial cause drew 160 players to register for the 144-spot tournament, leading to an early start for those 16 overflow golfers.

Whether it’s to benefit Westfield Memorial, the Chautauqua Blind Association or another charity, Voelker said he and the Golf Club staff embrace and encourage partnerships with local organizations because they foster growth and connection.

“We really feel that these events have sort of a double function because, obviously, the golfers have a good day and enjoy playing golf and enjoy our facility, but it’s also a chance for these agencies to perhaps connect to some new people who might not otherwise come in contact with their cause,” Voelker said. “It’s a great venue for that.”