Before the inaugural Golfin’ for McGarry fundraiser last year, Denny Connell told officials at The Meadows Golf Club that he expected about 40 people to attend.
Connell was pleasantly surprised when over 60 turned out on that summer day.
Connell hopes for an even better turnout this year, as the second annual Golfin’ for McGarry scramble will be held on Friday, Aug. 9, at 10 a.m., at The Meadows, 2802 W. 123rd St., in Blue Island.
The outing is named in honor of Beverly resident Martin McGarry, a beloved boxing club owner who died of amyloidosis in January 2018.
The cost is $100 per golfer, and proceeds will again benefit the Chicago chapter of the Amyloidosis Foundation.
McGarry was a talented boxer, but it was difficult recognizing that, Connell said, when people met him outside the ring.
“You don’t picture a boxer being friendly. He went out of his way to do things for people, but that was Martin’s way,” Connell said. “That, to me, was the most amazing thing, especially after he’s beating … people in the ring. He was just a very kind and gentle man. He was the type of guy who once you met him, you liked him.”
Last year’s outing, Connell said, raised over $4,000.
The event will be a best-ball scramble format, in which players compete in teams and play the best shot of the team until holing out.
That format is more fun for beginners and those who just want to enjoy a day on the golf course.
“To be honest, if you don’t want to hit a ball, don’t,” Connell said. “Ride around and have a beer. You don’t have to shoot every shot.”
The event will also feature competitions for closest to the pin and longest drive.
McGarry died on Jan. 24, 2018, at age 66 after battling amyloidosis for about six years. The hereditary disease, which also took the lives of McGarry’s mother, two brothers, an uncle and several cousins, creates deposits of amyloid protein fibrils that damage organs; it often affects the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system and digestive tract.
McGarry was a Golden Gloves boxer, and he later started McGarry’s Boxing Club out of the two-story garage at his home. He trained Olympic boxers and local athletes and youths looking to stay in shape. Although he was ill, McGarry still hosted fundraisers for friends battling illnesses, and his family and the Amyloidosis Foundation were named the community honoree of the 2018 South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Connell met McGarry in 1975 through family, and his son, Rory, trained under McGarry and won multiple titles at the Mt. Carmel High School Fight Night.
Connell organized last year’s outing while bartending at a tavern that has since closed. He’s now working at Barney Callaghan’s Pub, 10618 S. Western Ave.
The owners, he said, were happy to sponsor and host this year’s outing.
“[Bernard and Mary Callaghan], as soon as I mentioned it to them, they were all over it,” Connell said. “They said, ‘Oh, yeah, let’s get it done.’ They were 100 percent behind it.”
Barney Callaghan’s will host an after-party that will include food and drinks, Connell said, as well as a raffle that is being supported by local businesses such as Klees Golf Shop in Beverly.
Connell hopes the popularity of Barney Callaghan’s, which operated as Keegan’s for many years before an extensive renovation in 2015, will attract more participants this year.
McGarry’s family, which includes his wife, Kathy, and children, Theresa, Morgan, Molly and Nora, participated last year, and Connell was pleased that some participants he wasn’t expecting joined in the fun.
About eight people, he said, signed up on the day of the event.
“We had a lot of people that day just come in,” Connell said, “and say, ‘We want to play in the outing.’”
To sign up for Golfin’ for McGarry, call Connell at (773) 449-8322.