The story goes that professional golfer Mark Wilson was offered a chance to attend the Masters at Augusta with his dad. Few sons would turn down a ticket like that. The story continues that Mark told his dad that he wouldn’t go to Augusta National, the home of the legendary Masters, until he qualified for a chance to play in it.
Mark and his dad, Les, are at the 2011 Masters. Mark’s ticket to the Masters came during the first months of the 2011 PGA Tour when he won the Sony Hawaiian Open and followed that up by winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the day after his beloved Packers won Super Bowl XLV. Les will be on his bag as his caddy in the iconic Par 3 tournament held on the eve of the Masters. Mark’s son, and his dad’s Grandson, Lane will be there too clad in a special Masters Caddy uniform fit for a three-year-old. The rest of Mark’s family will be there as well cheering Mark and his dad and little Lane on for fun on Wednesday while they get ready to cheer Mark on for real on Thursday, April 7. Imagine how exciting this must be.
I think even Mark would admit that he never thought he would come to his first Masters leading the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. Well, he is the leader. Mark has held the FedEx Cup top spot for 9 weeks since his February 7 victory in Phoenix where he charmed the golf world by wearing a Packers Cheesehead on the famed Par 3 in Phoenix. He has won four times on the Tour.
Joining Mark’s family in cheering him on will be legions of children with cancer and blood disorders and their families along with their dedicated caregivers who will join the MACC Fund’s many friends, board and staff. Why, you might ask. Well, Mark has given more money to the MACC Fund than any other professional athlete in its nearly 35-year history. That’s a pretty good reason to cheer. He and his wonderful wife Amy have a program called “Making a Mark Fore MACC.” They donate funds to the MACC Fund for every tournament “cut” Mark makes as well as giving additional funds for every top 10, 20 or 30 finish.
Mark is a native of Menomonee Falls, Wis. He won the Walter Hagen Award honoring golf’s leading collegiate scholar-athlete in 1997, the year he graduated as a Mathematics major while earning All-American honors at the University of North Carolina. He is also a member of the MACC Fund’s Honorary Athletic Board. Mark started his MACC Fund program in 2004, the year he joined the PGA Tour. His gifts have grown from that first year when he was scheduled to give $2,500 based on the program’s guidelines. As a harbinger of things to come, the check which was presented to Dr. Jim Casper and MACC Fund board member Dave Morris while on a tour to visit the children at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, was made out for twice the anticipated amount for $5,000. Amy and Mark always give more than anticipated as their generosity through the years has totaled $175,000 .
What makes this wonderful support even more special is that Mark, unlike most professional athletes, is a private contractor with no guaranteed contract. If he doesn’t play well, he doesn’t get paid. He cannot afford to be in a slump – literally.
In addition to “Making a Mark Fore MACC,” Mark is the Honorary Chairman of the Lake Country Charity Invitational, one of the area’s top high school golf tournaments. This year’s event will be held at Western Lakes in Pewaukee on April 30. It is sponsored by Hartland Arrowhead High School’s golf team, a perennial power in Wisconsin golf and the state’s defending high school champion, a position they have held for years. The Invitational is unique for not only the quality of the play, but for the quality of the players and coaches who raise funds to help the MACC Fund battle cancer and related blood disorders. Mark makes time in his busy schedule each summer to play 18 holes of golf, 9 holes each with two top fund-raising teams, giving these impressive high school golfers a day to remember. He also writes each of the Invitational’s golfers and coaches a letter thanking them for their efforts and encouraging them to do all they can to help the children the MACC Fund is dedicated to helping. He has been known to say something along the lines of ‘a missed putt on a cold and windy day pales by comparison to what the children you are helping go through each day.’ He gets the state’s other professional golfers to sign on and support his efforts as well.
He is definitely “Making a Mark Fore MACC” and that is why we will all be cheering for him and hoping he has a Masterful week in the magical land of magnolias. Good luck Mark. Thanks for helping the MACC Fund help kids. You have always been a winner to the MACC Fund and the children.
John M. Cary, Executive Director
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