KILLEN — Josh Willingham admitted he hadn’t touched a golf club in weeks leading up to Monday’s Josh Willingham Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament at Turtle Point Yacht and Country Club.
But that didn’t stop the Minnesota Twins outfielder from enjoying himself as he played nine holes in the morning and afternoon sessions and then played the No. 10 hole with each group.
“The weather has been almost perfect,” Willingham said. “We’ve had a good turnout and good weather, so that’s about all you can ask for in a golf tournament.”
Willingham and his wife, Ginger, started the foundation four years ago, and the golf tournament is its primary fund raiser. The foundation uses the money to help children in the Shoals.
In the past, the foundation has donated $60,000 to build a tornado shelter in Hackleburg and $40,000 to build a handicapped-friendly playground at Phil Campbell Elementary School. The foundation also built the Cross Point Community Playground in Florence. Ginger Willingham said money raised from Monday’s tournament will be used for several different causes.
“We have a few things in mind, like the Read Across America Program, which provides books for children,” she said. “Every penny we raise goes straight to the kids in this area. We’ve done some things in Minnesota, but those were not done with funds given by people here. We’ve made a commitment that whatever we raise stays in this area.”
Willingham said while the foundation has built playgrounds and a tornado shelter, it is also there for children’s individual needs.
“Basically, we’re going to help kids that need it,” he said. “Whatever way we find to do that is what we will use the money for. A lot of different things come up, and you don’t necessarily know exactly what you are going for.
“It might be as simple as buying shoes for kids that need them or sponsoring a high school kid that has the work ethic and the right attitude but not the resources to go to college. It’s basically whatever need comes up that we hear about.”
Monday’s tournament included 35 teams. Willingham’s teammate, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, participated, along with Twins’ bullpen coach Nate Dammann and former major league pitcher David Weathers.
Willingham underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair torn meniscus this past July. He said the knee is fine now and is optimistic that he’ll be completely healthy for spring training in February.
Willingham will be in the final year of his three-year contract with the Twins. He said he’ll play this season before deciding on his next career move.
“We’ll play this year out and see how it goes and how I feel,” he said. “We’ll make a family decision after that. A lot of it depends on how this year goes; If I’m healthy and I’m still having fun.
“It’s not just about baseball anymore. We have to decide if it’s still worth it for our family because the kids need me at home, too. But right now we’ll just focus on next season and see what happens.”