Traditionally held on Thanksgiving Day, the 29th annual Jack Kirby Classic Turkey Shoot Golf tournament has been moved to January.
The event was founded by longtime Valley resident Jack Kirby but had its genesis in an earlier family tradition — a friendly game of nine-hole between the Kirby clan and close friends in town for the holiday.
Kirby, now 84, passed the torch to sons Paul and Wes Kirby and daughter Robin Martin last year, who have in turn relegated organizing duties permanently to Central Union High girls’ golf coach John Briggs and the staff at the Desert Trails Golf Course, where the tournament has been held since its founding.
All funds raised have and will continue to go toward the CUHS and Southwest High golf programs.
How has the transition process been for Kirby himself?
“Very emotional,” he said. “It started with my whole family and a few visitors — mostly relatives and a few people from the RV park — so when I decided to quit it was very emotional … I was worried they were going to change the name, which is probably selfish of me.”
New management has no such plans, but rather, are glad to pay ongoing tribute to the man whose brainchild has helped raise some $40,000 over the years.
For his part, Kirby is confident Briggs and Desert Trails will do a fine job. He also plans to be in attendance in January, should his schedule so permit — Kirby had a memoir published early last year and has several book-signings lined up that month.
Despite the fact that the Classic will be taking on a wintrier feel in years to come, Kirby will always remember it as “a good time, plenty of laughs, and good fellowship before turkey.”
Sports Writer Michael Dukes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3435.