CARL JUNCTION, Mo.: The clink of the putter meeting the golf ball on a sunny Labor Day morning sounded like aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Dozens of people took to the green at Briarbrook Country Club in Carl Junction for a putting competition organized by 11-year-old Jack Spencer, a local golfer who decided to do something about the destruction he saw on TV.
“We watched a lot of coverage of Hurricane Harvey,” said Kristi Spencer, Jack’s mother. “He was really impacted by the stories he was hearing.”
Over the past 10 days, as footage of floodwaters and rescues came across the Spencer family’s TV set, Jack started brainstorming ways to help.
At first, he wanted to donate his piggybank money. But after a day mulling it over at school in Carl Junction, he suggested a fundraiser at Briarbrook Country Club, where he spent the summer on the links.
The club holds an annual Labor Day tournament; Jack planned to offer the golfers a few warmup putts in exchange for a donation to the Houston recovery effort.
Many of the golfers who participated in the tournament already knew Jack, a member of club’s PGA Jr. Team, and just about every one of them stopped to participate in the fundraiser.
When a putt went in, Jack cheered: “Racking them up!”
“I didn’t think there would be this many people,” he said. “I guess it’s for a good cause.”
To those who have gotten to know Jack on the course, his do-good streak was no surprise.
“He’s a really good player, and he’s always wanting to help the younger kids,” said Mark Tackkett, golf professional at Briarbrook, adding, “He’s got a great sense of duty. It’s something when a kid that young comes and says, ‘Hey, we need to do something.’”
Fran Englert, of Carl Junction, said she was glad to lend a hand to Houston by entering the putting competition.
“We know what it’s like here in Joplin to step up during a storm,” she said. “That’s the least we can do.”
Half of her $5 entry fee will be donated to Habitat for Humanity in Houston, a nonprofit that builds homes for low-income residents, many of whom have been displaced by flooding. Participants were also allowed to purchase mulligans for $10.
Spencer was surprised by the turnout at Monday’s event, which yielded a donation of $1,000.
“It feels good to know that the money is going to a good place,” he said.
Jack Spencer was only five when the tornado struck in 2011, but he can remember going to a bank in an unaffected part of town to donate to the recovery effort. He said he still has the T-shirt the bank employees handed out.