Mayor’s Cup returns to Aspen Golf Club
Beneficiaries are Aspen Hope Center and Aspen Strong
The decades-long tradition of the Aspen Mayor’s Cup returns this weekend with proceeds going to two local mental health and suicide prevention organizations.
Mayor Torre has selected this year’s beneficiaries to be the Aspen Hope Center and Aspen Strong, recognizing that the local community has high rate of suicides and mental health issues.
“I picked these organizations for a reason,” he said this week. “The tournament is about mental health and people knowing that there are resources to help them.”
Aspen Hope Center is a crisis-intervention organization that provides suicide-prevention counseling, grief and trauma counseling and other mental-health services.
Aspen Strong’s mission is to raise awareness of and improve mental health in the Roaring Fork Valley by creating sustainable financial resources, uniting professionals and agencies, and supporting and implementing empirically based and results-oriented education and action.
The Aspen community lost two residents to suicide this month within a week of each other.
During the Aug. 10 Aspen City Council meeting, Torre used his time during board comments to remember one individual who took his life the week prior, and the mayor pleaded with community members to reach out for help when they are feeling alone, depressed or need help.
“It just goes to highlight again what we are suffering here in our own valley, mental health issues are as important as anywhere,” he said. “We see our suicide rate being three times national averages and we have work to do here along with that.”
Within a couple of hours after Torre’s comments at the council table, a city of Aspen employee who worked at Aspen Golf Club died by suicide.
The loss of that individual has run deep within the municipal government and the tight-knit golfing community.
Torre said this week that it’s not lost on him the timing of the Mayor’s Cup and the beneficiaries of it.
“It’s OK to talk about it, that’s the purpose of this tournament,” he said. “This is about being a community and to be there to support each other.”
Another golf tournament, the Sheriff’s Cup, which was born from a hiatus of the Mayor’s Cup several years ago, has raised over $200,000 for Aspen Hope Center in recent tournaments, according to Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo.
The Mayor’s Cup has been around since the early 1980s, when then Mayor Bill Stirling, who is an avid golfer, was in office.
His successors have carried on the tradition of having an inexpensive, accessible golf tournament.
“It’s an event the locals could afford to play in and every mayor felt it was their duty to put it on,” said Steve Aitken, director of golf at the municipal course.
It was during former Mayor Steve Skadron’s tenure that not enough interest was garnered from the community so the event was suspended.
That’s when DiSalvo held an impromptu tournament that included dog poop bags that served as gift bags with dirty golf balls as the schwag and trophies pulled haphazardly from people’s closets for low scoring teams.
It was informal then but the tournament became much more legit five years ago when DiSalvo began fundraising for mental health, veterans and other community needs.
Torre said he’s excited to bring back the Mayor’s Cup tradition, with its competitive, yet relaxed nature while raising money for a much-needed cause.
“My involvement is to help in areas of need and highlight the issue of mental health,” he said.
The Mayor’s Cup is departing from its traditional shot-gun style tournament and is instead a two-person team scramble format for a $50 fee, in addition to greens fees.
So anyone who has a tee time on Sunday can pay $25 at the pro shop, form a two-person team and turn in their scorecard at the end of the round.
The tournament includes a free boxed lunch at the Red Mountain Grill and cash payouts for the top five winners.
“That’s just to increase the fun factor,” Torre said. “If the winners donate their winnings to (the Hope Center and Aspen Strong) even better.”
The payouts are $400 for first place; $200 for second place; $100 for third and $50 for fourth.
“It’s a great deal and you get to compete,” Aitken said, adding there is an event every week at the golf course for the next month. “We wanted to do something different and this is way better because it’s easier to put together.”
The cutoff time to tee off and participate in the tournament is 3 p.m.
Torre will be at the course in the morning to welcome players and also is playing.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or considering suicide, there are resources available locally and nationally.
Aspen Hope Center provides a free, 24-hour confidential Hopeline for anyone who needs help or is in a crisis. Reach the crisis line at 970-925-5858.
Mind Springs Health has A crisis and assessment team service line at 970-201-4299.
Colorado Crisis Services is a free, 24-hour organization that helps with mental health, substance abuse or emotional help. Confidential services are available at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255 to speak to a trained professional.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a 24/7 support line available by calling 1-800-273-8255.
With many lingering questions still surrounding the fate of Aspen’s historic Old Powerhouse, City Council decided during Monday’s work session to hold off on providing staff direction on moving the preservation project forward until more information can be presented.