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Canzater weekend: Health, education, golf — memories

Canzater weekend: Health, education, golf — memories

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THE ISSUE: Congressman’s big annual event in Santee; OUR OPINION: Clyburn commitment, effort instrumental in success story

Jim Clyburn is away from Washington for an event that celebrates memories, supports education and boosts the economy of the Santee area.

Held the first weekend in August, the Rudolph Canzater Memorial Classic golf tournament is in its 23rd year and is far more than the informal gathering of golfing friends that began three decades ago.

The 2013 event will award scholarships and provide Dell laptops and Microsoft software packages to 100 Canzater Scholars. The total amount of college support awarded this year is nearly $400,000. Since the Canzater Classic’s inception, the event has provided more than $2 million in college assistance. The recipients received their Canzater Scholars’ awards on Saturday evening at the Santee Conference Center.

On Friday, the Canzater Classic weekend began with events geared toward empowering young people and improving the health of the community. Professional golfer Will Lowery conducted a Youth Golf Clinic at Hillcrest Golf Course in Orangeburg on Friday afternoon following the Ollie Johnson Memorial I-95 Health Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Santee Conference Center. The health fair annually provides stroke and prostate screenings and cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure tests, as well as demonstrations on healthy cooking.

“A good education and good health are two important factors for a good quality of life,” Clyburn said. “This weekend is an opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of friends and family, and to give something back for the blessings we all enjoy.”

Santee is appreciative of Clyburn’s focus. With more than 600 golfers alone playing on six courses, the number of people in the area for the event is significant. The Canzater weekend is billed as the largest annual event in eastern Orangeburg County. In 2012 it was presented the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism’s Charles A. Bundy Award for contributions to rural tourism.

Extending the event to the publicly owned and operated Hillcrest golf facility in Orangeburg is also appreciated. Operated by the city of Orangeburg on land owned by South Carolina State University, Clyburn’s alma mater, Hillcrest has special significance for Clyburn. He was a member of Gov. John West’s staff when the course was constructed and opened in 1973. West, Sen. Strom Thurmond, S.C. President M. Maceo Nance Jr. and Orangeburg City Administrator Bob Stevenson, all now deceased, were instrumental in making reality of the federally funded project. West hit the ceremonial first tee shot in 1973 to open the facility. Clyburn was on hand in 1998 to do the same for Hillcrest’s 25th anniversary during the same month as the budding Canzater Classic was held.

It was three years earlier that Clyburn said he was committing himself to the future of the event created to honor Canzater, a close friend of Clyburn’s when both men were students at S.C. State. After seeing participation and attendance fall off for the then-more-informal event, Clyburn took over as chairman and obtained sponsorships. The event has grown and prospered ever since.

Toward the future, we quote Clyburn as both a thank you for his efforts and a reminder of his commitment:

“The year we began, I had to write a $400 check to cover the cost of the five $100 scholarships we wanted to award. Many things have changed over the years – the other founders like Rudolph Canzater, Ollie Johnson and Milton Greene have passed away, and we have given more college aid than we could have imagined in our wildest dreams. But one thing won’t change, as long as I am able to continue this effort, I am committed to keeping the Canzater Classic in Santee to help give back to a community I love dearly.”

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