Dixon, Mack to play in Tiffin Browns Backers Golf Scramble

Area golfers will get to tee it up and tee off with a pair of Cleveland Brown greats today, all to help sick children.

The Tiffin Browns Backers host their 18th annual Golf Scramble today at Clinton Heights, with 22 four-person teams hitting the course to play 18 holes and hobnob with former Browns players Hanford Dixon and Kevin Mack.

Money raised at the event goes to Just For Kids, a non-profit organization that helps families with kids who have catastrophic illnesses in and around the Tiffin and Seneca County area.

While this is the 18th year the Browns Backers have hosted the event, the tournament actually began earlier than that.

Greg and Julie Clouse decided to hold a tournament in 1991 to help a friend whose son had leukemia.

The friend’s son died, but Greg Clouse said their friend said he wanted the tournament to continue so that it might help other families and it got its “official” start two years later in 1993.

“It wasn’t going to be a long-term thing, but it’s been going on for 20-some years so I guess it’s lasted longer than we thought it would,” Clouse said.

The Browns Backers helped.

Clouse said organizing the event was proving difficult after several years and he and his wife were thinking about stopping it, but then the Browns Backers formed.

Many of the members had golfed in the event in the past, Clouse said, and they decided to step in to help.

“They just kind of said we’ll have a golf tournament and we’ll give (the money) to Just For Kids,” he said. “God bless ’em, if it wasn’t for them, it would probably have never started up.”

It’s proven popular.

“What I enjoy about it is meeting the people that come every year. It’s amazing how many people have golfed in this from Day 1. This tournament means a lot to Julie and I and Just For Kids,” Clouse said.

“I’d like to think they’re there for Just For Kids, but honestly I like meeting the Browns, too, and talking with them and getting their take on this year and stuff like that, and (hearing about) some of their experiences playing with the Browns,” he said.

Check-in is at 7:30 a.m., with the scramble teeing off at 8 a.m.

Plans call for Dixon and Mack to split up and hit the course with the golfers, according to Browns Backer Jeff Morrow, who helped organize this year’s event.

He said everyone should be able to play a hole with each of the former Browns.

“What we typically do is give them a golf cart or have someone drive them, and basically what they do is try to tee off and play a little bit with each team or as many teams as possible. We’ll send one of the guys to the front nine, one of the guys to the back nine and we’ll let them tee off,” Morrow said

“They’ll try to meet and greet as many teams as possible — take pictures, autographs, whatever,” he said.

Morrow said his group tries to rotate the visiting former Browns each year so different players make the trip. He said many Browns Backers groups around the state hold similar events during the summer and the Browns and their former players are willing to help out.

“They have an alumni rep at the Browns facility who helps us, and that’s Kevin Mack himself,” Morrow said. “You work with them once or twice and they give you their cell phone (numbers). You can pretty much reach right out to them.

“It gives the golfers and many of our members that golf an opportunity to spend some time with them, ask them questions on a more personable level than they might normally do,” he said.

Along with playing golf and sponsors, the event also raises money for Just For Kids with raffles, autographed memorabilia for sale, a 50/50 drawing and hole prizes.

“I always want to donate at least $1,000 or more,” Morrow said. “A lot of it is heavily dependent on sponsorships and donations … and the extra stuff we do.”

Clouse said the event has helped 110 to 115 families over the years in a variety of ways.

“Every family’s different. Some families stay around here close (for medical care), some got to go to Cleveland, some go to Columbus, some to Toledo, so gas cards are always a good thing because you really rack up some money going to (appointments). And sometimes they have to stay overnight; we’ll try to help them out with that, try to give them food money and stuff like that,” he said

“The real long-term ones, we’ve done so much as to help them get caught up with utilities and rent and stuff like that,” Clouse said

Lunch follows the scramble, providing more time for autographs, pictures and talking with Dixon and Mack.

And it’s not just Browns fans who take part.

“We’ve got some guys that come over from Findlay that are big Steelers fans,” said Clouse, who is a member of the Tiffin Browns Backers. “They still golf with us because they know what Just For Kids is and they help us out, so I really appreciate it.”