The Inaugural Memphis District Golf Classic (MDGC) is now the official golf tournament of the Southern Heritage Classic, with tee-off slotted for Tunica National Golf & Tennis Resort on Sept. 14, beginning at 8 a.m.

Hosted by the Tennessee Baptist Laymen Movement, Memphis District, MDGC replaces the golf tournament formerly known as the ED “Too Tall” Jones Golf Classic that stalled after the closing of Harrah’s Casino, a key sponsor, and Cottonwood Golf course.

“We asked if we could take over and were told we could if we do it with quality,” said Charles Ewing Sr., golf classic chairman and president and founder of Ewing Moving & Storage.

“We’ll do it first-class.”

Ewing, who is also president of the Baptist Laymen Movement, Memphis District, used his resources to gather funds needed to produce the event and is a member of Progressive Baptist Church, along with Southern Heritage Classic founder and entrepreneur Fred Jones Jr.

Funds raised through sponsorships and entry fees will be used to launch a junior golf clinic in partnership with Shelby County Schools and Memphis Athletic Ministries. The junior golf clinic will enhance and expand golf programs at 25 elementary schools.

“We plan to teach golf – a skill that may not be available to children currently,“ said Ewing. “We’ll teach the ethics and etiquette of golf. The rules are very professional. You don’t talk when someone’s swinging or putting. That takes discipline. If you don’t win the hole, then you get in line behind the person that did. So you have to learn to be respectful.”

And, there’s certain attire that you wear on the golf course, Ewing added.

“If you notice, professional golfers can’t wear short pants. And in all country clubs, you cannot wear jeans, jeans are not acceptable on the golf course. So you have to dress accordingly. You have to discipline yourself, you have to be cordial to your team, and it has teamwork as well, so you learn to work from a team perspective.”

Golf clinics will include children at 72 Baptist churches in Memphis and will be expanded to accommodate any child interested in the program. Clinics will expand to six weeks instruction – school golf clinics currently span three weeks.

Ewing, who has made it a habit to play SHC golf tournaments, noted that,“There’s lots of ethics in golf that are different from other sports – it’s one of the best kept secrets when it comes to sports.”

Most underprivileged children have not been exposed to golf, said Ewing, “so we’re going to expose them, hopefully to a new world. They see Tiger Woods and a lot of kids want to play because of what he’s done. But there haven’t been opportunities available to them to be able to participate and we want to provide that. Any kid who wants to play golf, we want to provide them the opportunity in Memphis.”

Ewing explained that golf can also lead to college scholarships and that his program will eventually provide scholarships, also.

Many golfers have already registered for the golf tournament – participants include players from the local area and those traveling from Atlanta, Birmingham, Chattanooga and cities across Texas. Registration will close at 100 participants.

Two participants lucky or skilled enough to make a hole-in-one will win a new car – one supplied by Principle Toyota and one by Gossett Motors. All players will receive a gift pack that includes a NIKE golf shirt.

The tournament, awards ceremony and luncheon will end promptly at 2 p.m. to provide time for tailgating and attending the football game. The highly-anticipated game between rivals Tennessee State University and Jackson State University at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium will kickoff at 6 p.m.

Cigna is the primary sponsor and additional sponsors include FedEx, NIKE, Principle Toyota, Gossett Motors, Spirit Magazine, City of Memphis and Regional One Health.

(For more information about the Memphis District Golf Classic, or to register, visit www.memphisdistrictgolfclassic.org.)