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NFM Chamber holds Calvin Peete Classic

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Oct 21, 2021

Pepper Peete, right speaks while her daughter, Aisha, looks on at the Calvin Peete Classic at Magnolia Landing on Saturday. CHUCK BALLARO

The Calvin Peete Classic has certainly changed in the five years it’s been held, but perhaps the tournament that was played Saturday at Magnolia Landing was the most different yet.

Gone were the gimmicks such as the yardsticks and mulligans to give it more legitimacy. However, the return of Pepper Peete was also a welcome change after a two-year absence.

The result was the most successful tournament to date, with an almost full field playing under Chamber of Commerce sunny conditions, albeit a bit warm.

John Gardner, whose company Lee County Insurance, has been the title sponsor all five years, said he and the North Fort Myers Chamber were happy with the turnout.

“We ended up with 17 teams on a great day. We got a lot of raffle items and we’re having an online auction that we launched,” Gardner said. “That should bring in a fair amount of money.”

There were a lot of gift cards and gift baskets up for grabs. There were also four closest to the pin holes, the longest drive and a putting and marshmallow drive contest before the event.

The marshmallow drive contest was one of the few novelty events at this year’s event.

“We’re slowly moving away from the gimmicks. The mulligans and yardsticks are gone and gear it toward a more serious tournament,” Gardner said, “Our long-term goal is to turn it into a pro-am, so we have to clean it up.”

“I believe this was the best one yet. I know we had a good time and the weather was great,” said Lenny Cannova, tournament chair. “We’re really trying to make it more of a competition.”

Calvin Peete was the most successful black golfer in PGA history before the emergence of Tiger Woods. Peete had 12 PGA victories, including the 1985 Tournament Players Championship, and was among the leading money winners in the 1980s.

He was also a North Fort Myers resident, and when the opportunity to hold a golf tournament was brought forth by the chamber, it was fitting to name it after Peete, who passed away in 2015.

That’s why having Pepper Peete back was so important, after she missed the last two years because of weather and COVID.

“I love it. It’s such an honor that the North Fort Myers community continues to honor my husband’s legacy. People are friendly and it’s always a beautiful day and the course is so much fun,” Peete said.

Peete and her family surely showed the rest of the field how to play, as they finished second overall at -13. They were still beaten by four shots by the foursome of Doug McKeever, Tom Tucker, Kenny Tolles and Kevin Hoffer.

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