U.P. Celebrity Golf tees off Thursday


For The Daily News

MARQUETTE – The Upper Peninsula Celebrity Golf Classic has a little something for everyone.

If you like to golf, there will be 18 holes to play – with a motor cart – on Thursday at the Marquette Golf Club, both on its Heritage and Greywalls courses, including prizes for those who swing for a low score.

If you like to eat, there are parties the night before and just after the golf, breakfast preceding the day on the course and even a number of food, wine tasting and dessert stations strategically placed at various golf holes.

Maybe you like unique merchandise. There will be a silent auction featuring items that a price can’t be put on, like autographed NFL memorabilia, tickets to a 2013 Green Bay Packers game and even airplane trips to destinations included with these prizes.

And of course, there’s the celebrities. Former NFL coach Steve Mariucci is the master of ceremonies throughout the two days and will be joined by his good friend from Iron Mountain, Tom Izzo, who just so happens to have won a national championship coaching the Michigan State University men’s basketball team.

The two Northern Michigan University graduates pulled in a number of sports celebrities and local celebrities, and in few cases, some who qualify as both like NFL veteran kicker Jay Feely, who summers in Michigamme.

It’s all being done for a good cause as the major annual fundraiser for the Beacon House, a hospitality house in Marquette that allows medical patients, their caregivers and loved ones from far away a place to stay.

The original Beacon House on College Avenue opened in 1990, then incorporated as an independent charitable organization in 2001 and soon after moved to its present location on North Third Street.

The golf outing is in its third year and netted the Beacon House more than $108,000 last year. The group hopes to up that to $125,000 this year, according to spokeswoman Mary Tavernini-Dowling.

“It’s so wonderful to have so many sports greats who want to come here and help us,” she said. “I’ve been told that many of them know exactly what it’s like to go through a medical procedure in a unfamiliar place.

“They are just so excited, excited to help us.”

She said every celebrity travels here on his or her own, keeping expenses down so more of the money raised can go back to the charity.

These celebrities will donate most of the high-profile items at the silent auction. While some of them will bring the merchandise when they arrive, Tavernini is aware of items already available, including framed and signed San Francisco 49ers jerseys from Steve Young, Terrell Owens and Ronnie Lott; a signed football from legendary 49ers quarterback Joe Montana; a Hall of Fame football signed by Marshall Faulk; a framed print of the crew and boat from “The Deadliest Catch” TV show; Mariucci’s Packers tickets for a game this coming season; various MSU game tickets for the upcoming season; a timeshare in the Cayman Islands donated by Jim and Linda Derocher; and even private plane trips donated by Superior Aviation for destinations among the other items.

The event kicks off at 6 p.m. Wednesday with the Match Party, which pairs celebrities with their teams. At 9 a.m. on Thursday is registration and a breakfast bar, with the golf to commence with a shotgun start at 10 a.m.

The post-golf 19th Hole Party is set for 5 p.m. Thursday at the Marquette Golf Club to include an awards presentation, mingling with guests, a gourmet dinner and cocktail bar.

NOTES: Among the celebrities confirmed who will attend are Lem Barney, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who played for the Detroit Lions; Marty Turco, an 11-year goalie in the NHL; Kevin Tapani, a former Major League pitcher and Escanaba native; Mike Westhoff, a former NFL assistant coach; Steve Azar, a noted country/blues/rock musician; Monte Colburn, a captain with the Wizard boat on “The Deadliest Catch”; Rich Beem, a pro golfer who has won on the PGA Tour; George Koonce and Mike McCoy, former Green Bay Packers; Rob Rubick, a former Detroit Lions player originally from Newberry; and former Detroit Red Wings Josh Langfeld and Randy McKay.