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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Golf Tourney Raises Cash for Charity

Everyone played to win, but the main thing was to raise money for disabled children.

More than 100 golfers on 26 teams took part in the fourth annual Ronald McDonald Children's Charities golf tournament at the Moscow Country Club.

With temperatures hovering near 30 degrees in the city on Friday, most players found relief from the heat and the blistering sun at the beautiful 18-hole course, which is surrounded by huge pine trees in suburban Nakhabino, some 20 kilometers northwest of the city center.

Unlike a professional tournament, this was pure fun, with players ranging from experienced golfers to those who had never before picked up golf clubs.

Each four-member team paid an entry fee of $5,000 -- some teams donated even more -- and played a scramble format, in which the best shot counts toward the team's overall score.

In the end, the tournament hosts took first prize with a score of 8-under-par 64.

The well-balanced quartet -- made up of the general director of McDonald's Russia, Khamzat Khazbulatov; Vladimir Rasskazov (one of this country's top amateur golfers and the winner of the President of Russia Golf Cup in 1996); Malkhaz Gorgisheli and the American jazz singer Tim Strong -- beat the second-place team by three strokes.

"Obviously, we all tried to play the best we could and to win, but the main purpose of this event is to help the kids," said Khazbulatov, who after taking golf lessons nine years ago in Canada celebrated his second victory in a week after winning the President of Russia Golf Cup tournament May 31 on the same course.

"Of course, as tournament host, I have the privilege of picking my own team, which helped us win both events," he said.

Another one of McDonald's entries, McD Canada -- headed by the company's Chairman George Cohon and Senior Vice President Peter Beresford, along with Australian Ambassador Geoffrey Bentley and the Russian women's champion, Svetlana Gunkina -- was not far behind, taking third place.

"I didn't play as well as last Sunday, but my team carried me through," said Cohon, who also took time to sign his new book, "To Russia, With Fries."

The media team -- made up of seasoned veterans from Radio Station 7, Americans Peggi O'Saugnessy and Peter Kahelen, along with Pekka "Bud" Sticker of Finland and yours truly, who played in his first golf competition -- held its own, finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack.

The tournament helped raise $155,000 for the mentally and physically handicapped children at the Ronald McDonald Center, which houses approximately 800 Moscow children.

"This kind of charity event is nothing new to most Western countries, but in Russia, it's just becoming a popular thing," said Svetlana Polyakova, a coordinator of children's programs at McDonald's.

"As you can see, there are more and more Russian companies taking part."