ASPEN - Professional golfer Fred Funk, an annual presence at Aspen Golf Club's Vince Gill and Amy Grant Golf Classic, won't be participating in the event this week.
Also scratch two other senior touring pros, David Frost and Bob Gilder, who were expected to help out with this year's benefit to raise money for Challenge Aspen.
All three golfers played in the Senior British Open at Turnberry, Scotland, which Fred Couples won on Sunday. Funk finished the prestigious tournament tied for 57th, while Frost ended up tied for 15th. Gilder took 23rd place.
The ninth annual benefit, which supports Challenge Aspen's mission of creating recreational and cultural possibilities for people with disabilities, begins Monday with a gala event at the St. Regis Aspen. The festivities include cocktails, live and silent auctions, dinner and an exclusive concert with husband and wife Gill and Grant, both of whom are Grammy winners.
At 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Aspen Golf Club, the two entertainers will join former Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug and alpine-turned-freestyle skier Casey Puckett for the 18-hole tournament. Other VIPs participating in the tourney include Doug Rohrbaugh, pro at the Ironbridge Golf Club in Glenwood Springs, and Nicole Cavarra, pro at the Aspen Glen Club in Carbondale. Rohrbaugh missed the cut at this year's U.S. Senior Open Championship at the Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich., by a mere three strokes.
As for the Aspen benefit, the cost for the full package is $2,000 per player or $8,000 per foursome, prices that cover the Tuesday tournament with golf pros, celebrities and disabled golfers, tickets to the Monday night gala, personalized instruction from PGA Tour pros, gifts and complimentary food and beverages during all tournament functions.
Individual seats to tonight's gala and concert at St. Regis Aspen are available for $750, according to Challenge Aspen's website.
Steve Aitken, director of golf at the Aspen Golf Club, said the public is invited to observe a free demonstration at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the golf course's driving range. Bleachers are being erected to accommodate viewers. Mike Ziegler, a long-driving specialist, has been tapped for the event.
The public also is invited to watch the tournament, following the golfers from hole to hole, at no charge, Aitken said. The municipal course will reopen to the public around 4 p.m., he said.
Women of the military will be honored this year. In addition, the event will recognize title sponsors Michael Morykwas and Christine Thornton, presenting sponsors Tom and Molly Bedell, honorary Chairpersons Jack and Donna Brittingham and Tom and Wendy DiVenere, and auction Chairpersons Pamela Ross and Ken Grabow.
For more information or to register online, visit www.challengeaspen.org/golf or call 970-923-0578.