Virgen's View: Mesa Verde Classic unites the city

January 22, 2013|By Steve Virgen
  • Tom Lamore tiptoes as he tries to keep his balance on a mechanic surfboard during the Mesa Verde Classic charity golf event at Mesa Verde Country Club in Costa Mesa on Monday.
Tom Lamore tiptoes as he tries to keep his balance on a mechanic… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

There was a special buzz amid the eighth annual Mesa Verde Classic Monday at Mesa Verde Country Club.

Realtor Valerie Torelli mixed tasty drinks at a martini bar at the 17th tee, while plenty of drinks were available at other holes, but that's not the type of buzz I'm talking about.

A party atmosphere took over at the golf course, but there was also a sense of community, positivity and hope for the future.

City leaders and business people put down their guards for one day to have some golf fun in the sun. They did it all in the name of charity, raising money for Costa Mesa United.

Mesa United, with its focus on youth sports programs, was the primary force in producing projects like Jim Scott Stadium at Estancia High School and the Costa Mesa Aquatics Center at Costa Mesa High School.


The organization wants to help with more facilities and improvements. And fundraisers like the Mesa Verde Classic are needed. The golf event has raised about $1 million throughout its history.

Raising money doesn't need to be serious.

Gordon Bowley, who chaired the fundraiser with Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, wanted to make sure every hole was an event with a Hawaiian/South Pacific theme.

Torelli's specialty drink was a mango martini, but that wasn't the only reason for the delay at the 17th tee. An In-N-Out truck parked nearby.

"Of course it's about raising money for Costa Mesa United, but more than that, it's a way for the right-wing and left-wing people of Costa Mesa to come together," Torelli said. "It's unifying and a cleansing of the soul. You have that camaraderie.

"You go to an In-N-Out truck and to a martini bar. You can have a python around your neck or go to [someone in a gorilla suit] scaring you. There are parrots. You can have someone roll you a cigar … It's a fun day. For one day, everybody lets everything down."

Torelli helped with creating the style for each hole. Bowley smiled at the thought of each one. He was also at the 17th tee when I drove by with my helpful escorts, former Daily Pilot Publisher Tom Johnson and former Pilot editor and current city spokesman Bill Lobdell.

Bowley thanked the community for such great support. He said the tournament alone could bring in about $80,000, with more coming from other events tied to the golf tournament.

Bowley introduced me to David Schweitzer, a donor who was honored with other special people at the closing dinner.

Bowley, Schweitzer, Ryan Knapp and Erich Melvedt won the tournament (129).

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