By Jim Crandall
Special Golf Correspondent
Cesar Cruz was awarded the inaugural Brendan Steele trophy at the annual Grandfathers for Golf ceremony at Golden Era Golf Course in Gillman Springs last Friday.
“Brendan and I came up with the idea for the award for the advanced golfer in our program who best exemplifies the balance between family, academics, citizenship and golf,” said Tony Viola, president of Grandfathers and a former Idyllwild resident.
Viola said Cesar is both a wonderful son to parents Cesar and Laura Cruz, and big brother to sister Brittney, who also is a member of the Advanced Team. Cesar maintains a 3.6-plus grade point average at Hemet High School and volunteers for activities at his school and at Grandfathers. He accomplishes all this while having a golf handicap index around 1.1 (near scratch). Cesar is well liked by all his teammates both at Grandfathers and at HHS.
PGA tour golfer Steele, who grew up in Idyllwild and used to practice at Golden Era, has been on the Grandfathers for Golf Board of Directors for years.
When officials from the Valero Texas Open, which Steele won in 2011, asked Steele to name a charity to receive a $10,000 award, Steele immediately named the Grandfathers program.
The awards ceremony also featured, among numerous other awards, the President’s Award, which Viola presented to Garrett Moyer for the golfer who best exemplifies the Grandfathers’ attitudes of sportsmanship, courtesy, volunteerism and golf.
Grandfathers for Golf was founded by Press-Enterprise columnist Marty Finn a few years back with the intent of reaching out to at-risk kids.
The program has grown over the years and now works with local school districts and at-large kids. More than 150 children are in the year-round program at the levels of Pee Wee, Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. And the program is free to all. Parents sign up their kids and the kids get a free set of golf clubs and free instruction from volunteers at two golf courses: Golden Era and Echo Hills.
For more information or to donate to the program, visit www.grandfathersforgolf.org or call Tony Viola at 909-754-4148.