Grosse Pointe Farms — Shasta Averyhardt is my favorite LPGA golfer.
Sure, she has yet to win a tournament.
But she gets it.
She understands what it means to be charitable, the importance of education and giving back.
No one had to beg Averyhardt to attend the Turning Point Invitational on Monday at the Country Club of Detroit.
And she didn’t come to the event kicking and screaming.
In fact, neither did the other 22 LPGA golfers who played in the event and hoped to raise $1 million for Detroit’s Cornerstone Schools.
“It’s personal,” Averyhardt said. “I grew up in Flint and it is important that kids receive a good education. When I read the story on Cornerstone, I was really touched.”
So were the fans who plucked down $500 to watch the golfers — $25,000 to play with them.
Monday, Averyhardt was paired with Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez, Farmington Hills native Meg Mallon, former No. 1 Yani Tseng and Morgan Pressel, who spent time as a kid playing at the course.
‘The turning point’
While Cornerstone first made a mark on the community in 1992, a much earlier date was the most important.
During a golf outing in 2002, Cornerstone co-founder Clark Durant had a plan, and it involved marking the 50th anniversary of legend Arnold Palmer’s U.S. Amateur victory at the Country Club of Detroit on Aug. 28, 1954.
The plan, he hoped, was to bring Palmer back to Detroit to commemorate the triumph — and to raise funds for his dream school.
Through a friend of a friend, Durant pulled off the impossible when Palmer accepted his invitation.
“(Palmer) said (the U.S. Amateur) was the turning point of my life,” Durant said. “If this is to be the turning point for these children, then I will come for free.”
About 2,000 people attended the dinner and the event raised $6 million.
“I still get goose bumps 12 years later telling the story,” Durant said.
Spurred by memories
Averyhardt graduated from Grand Blanc High, but spent her first three years at Flint Central, which is closed.
She drove through the old neighborhood recently, and it was tough.
“I had good teachers (at Central), great memories and it was a great atmosphere,” Averyhardt said. “Now to look at it today ... It is very hard for me to see that my high school is not there.”
It wasn’t, however, for her to say yes to participating in Monday’s festivities.
Averyhardt enjoyed her time in Detroit on Monday, and wants to see more kids given an opportunity to succeed.
In Detroit, Flint and anywhere else.
And you can bet she’ll be right there lending a hand.