Michigan PGA Members, Detroit Red Wings Alum Faceoff at Charity Hockey Game to Raise $60,000
By Adam Stanley
Darren McCarty was a well-known enforcer on the ice. Every team that reached the NHL playoffs had to have a bruiser to help them get to the bottom of the game and mix it with the opposition team who might be too close to their stars.
McCarty was a member of the Detroit Red Wings in that role. He was part of four Stanley Cup-winning teams (1997-1998, 2002, 2008) during a memorable run.
And now, at 50, he’s discovered what plenty of other former professional athletes have too – a love of golf.
McCarty participated in a charity hockey match between Detroit Red Wings alums & Michigan PGA Section Professionals on February 19. The game raised $60,000 for various charities. But after becoming friends with PGA Member Ian Ziska, he couldn’t resist dropping the gloves one last time.
McCarty and Ziska, who was named the 2023 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities for his work at American Dunes Golf Club in Grand Haven, Michigan, became fast friends after playing a charity golf tournament together and Ziska befriended McCarty’s manager, who he talked to about trying to “have a little fun” before the puck dropped.
“He had the idea of going from dropping the gloves to hugging it out for a ‘golf lesson’ before the puck dropped to start the game,” said Ziska with a laugh. “It was perfect.”
‘Perfect’ is just about the best way to describe the weekend’s event between the 27 golfers on skates and member of the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association (DRWAA). The Michigan PGA team scored the first goal of the game and held strong with a 4-3 lead after the first period before eventually falling to the Wings’ alums 10-5.
George Bowman, the PGA Head Professional at Oakhurst Golf & Country Club in Michigan and secretary of the DRWAA, was the man at the center of the event. McCarty and Dino Ciccarelli, Larry Murphy and John Ogrodnick were among the Red Wings stars that suited up. Many members of the Michigan PGA squad also have collegiate, club, or even professional hockey experience.
Dean Kolstad, the current Michigan PGA President, was a former NHL hockey player. Kolstad is the PGA Director of Golf at Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort near Kalamazoo.
The event was held at the BELFOR Training Centre in Detroit, which is the practice facility for the Red Wings.
“Two of my staff members both (played) on the Michigan PGA team and they were really excited about it, said PGA President John Lindert who served as the squads coach alongside Michigan PGA Executive Director Kevin Helm and Doug Bell, the PGA General Manager at American Dunes.
They just think about the uniqueness of playing against their childhood idols, and having those players on ice. . . How often would they have the opportunity to do this? This is a fantastic opportunity.
While the game was lighthearted and entertaining, the participants were all able to do some serious good – raising money for a collection of charities dedicated to American armed-service veterans. Red Wing and Michigan PGA alumni joined forces to present $15,000 to PGA HOPE and $15,000 each to the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Programme and $30,000 to Folds of Honor.
Lindert, who will celebrate his 40th anniversary as a PGA Member in May, said his own hockey experience is limited to watching the United States’ Miracle on Ice victory in the 1980 Olympics, but hes long known and seen the unique kinship between golfers and hockey players.
The PGA of America, Lindert pointed out, has its PGA Coach online platform follow the American Development Model – the first real adaptors were from hockey.
“The way they blend activities together in the winter and summer is why so many hockey players are great golfers because of the skillset utilized,” said Lindert. “Other PGA Sections do utilize hockey and hockey games to do fundraising but a lot of golfers in Michigan played hockey growing up. We’re just that kind of state – that’s what you did growing up.”
It was a great weekend for both participants and fans. The Michigan PGA was able also to raise tens, thousands of dollars for American Veterans.
“Our end goal was to do something really cool and different to showcase the athletes we had in our Section outside of golf and do it with an outstanding group of people,” said Ziska. “It was amazing to put this thing together in a hurry and deliver $60,000 to military charities.”