Despite a disappointing finish at the 2010 Travelers Championship, J.J. Henry is more than excited to be back in Connecticut.
Part of that excitement is based on his involvement in a charity event, the JJ Henry Invitational and Reception, that took place on Monday for the First Tee of Fairfield County and Henry House at Patterson Golf Club in Fairfield.
"There's been a lot of hard work from a lot of people to put this event together," Henry said. "It's something to be proud of."
The event took place to raise money to spur the growth of the 5,000 square foot Ben Hogan training, developmental and mentoring facility at Fairchild Wheeler public golf course. This year-round facility includes a computer lab, classrooms and lounge area to not only help grow the game of golf to thousands of children in southern Connecticut, but to give them a home away from home as well.
"Our mentoring program travels around now," First Tee of Metropolitan New York Executive Director Barry McLaughlin said. "Now we'll be able to do it all at our center, at our facility for the kids of First Tee of Fairfield County."
"We can give these kids the opportunity to be a better golfer, but more importantly a better opportunity to be a young man or a young woman," Henry said.
For Henry, the event at Patterson was a way to give back in his home and neighboring area. The Fairfield-native is looking to make this event a yearly one, that could incorporate more professionals in the coming years.
"I'm honored to use golf as a platform to give back to the area that I grew up in," Henry said. "It's great to remember where I came from and to remember why I got so inspired here."
The event allowed 60 children from the surrounding areas the chance to partake in a trick shot presentation, and allowed each child to engage with a foursome during the 18-hole scramble. The kids also got to hit balls during a clinic and received autographs from Henry.
"It brought back a lot of memories to me," Henry said. "On that range is where I had a lot of blood, sweat and tears as a kid, working my way."
The event closed with a reception that featured a silent and live auction. The auctions featured large scale prizes, including a weekend with Henry and a trip to the Heisman Trophy presentation.
The people at First Tee of Fairfield County were looking to raise $50,000 for the event, but easily surpassed that. Depending on how the auctions fared, it is possible that the event would raise twice as much as that.
"I'm very grateful that a lot of people in the community were willing to come out and support the First Tee for the game of golf and for the game of life," Henry said. "To see all of the kids out there, that's what it is all about."
In all, 240 people partook in the reception, 96 of whom played golf in the afternoon.
Two years ago, Henry partook in a breakfast at Fairchild Wheeler, and last year, Henry took part in a breakfast and golf event at Patterson. In two years, the event has grown into the all day affair that it was on Monday. Instrumental in the event, besides McLaughlin were Patterson members Greg Fell and Rick
Richardson, and each of them are excited to
see where this event will go.
"So far it has been incredible," Henry said. "I don't know where this leads, but I'm grateful for the Patterson Club for what they've allowed us to do here."
Partaking in the invitational were several golf pros, and also tennis star and Fairfield-native James Blake, who was more than happy to help out his fellow Fairfield profession athlete, Henry.
"It's beautiful," Blake said of the event. "I'm happy to do anything that [the Henry family] asks of me."