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Billingsley, Dodgers hit links to support charity

Billingsley, Dodgers hit links to support charity

Billingsley, Dodgers hit links to support charity
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. -- While many of his teammates were likely on their couches at home relaxing on their off-day -- many probably watching the U.S. Open on televison -- starter Chad Billingsley was out on the links hosting the 11th annual Dodgers Dream Foundation Charity Golf Invitational at Trump National Golf Club.

"It's grown into this great event," Billingsley said. "We get a lot of people and great sponsors. It's fun to be out here to meet new people and play golf. It can't get any better than that on an off-day."

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, 29 groups of golfers, each of which contained either a Dodgers alumnus or celebrity, teed off at 11 a.m. PT with a shotgun start. Former greats like Fernando Valenzuela, Eric Karros and Maury Wills, amongst many others, came out for the afternoon of golf.

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As for the current team, Billingsley was again the only player taking part in the event, and he has been attending and helping out since he joined the Dodgers. The right-hander, who has been with the team for seven years, was asked in Spring Training to be the first player to officially host the event, and he was quick to say yes to the offer.

When asked what brings him out to the golf course for the charity each year on his day off, Billingsley was just as quick to cut off the question.

"Golf," he exclaimed. "Us starting pitchers, we like to play golf. It's a great event for a great cause. For me, I get to play golf and meet people. You can't beat that."

The event raised more than $100,000 last year, and Dream Foundation fundraising manager David Brennan said it is on pace to raise that much money again this year.

Prior to the participants hitting the course, the Dodgers hosted a raffle board with prizes that included a Matt Kemp autographed jersey, Dugout Club tickets and a number of gift baskets. There was also a silent auction later in the day where the golfers could bid to win an autographed Magic Johnson jersey, LA Kings tickets or vacation packages, amongst many other items.

Brennan said there has been great support from the Dodgers and fans to help sponsor the event. He added that Billingsley has been the one constant player over the years with the tournament and that it has been great to see him give up one of his few days off each year to help out.

As for the course itself, Billingsley said it is beautiful, but very tough since it is narrow and unforgiving with tough greens, including some island par-fours.

Admitting he isn't the greatest golfer, Billingsley said he just plays the sport as a hobby to get away from baseball. He added he doesn't get to play much during the season since he would have to wake up at 6 a.m. to play 18 holes, and he often chooses sleep instead.

Former Dodger Paul Lo Duca cited the same reasons for making the trip out to Trump National Golf Club.

Lo Duca said he fondly remembers participating in the Dodgers Dream Foundation Charity Golf Invitational as a player, and Thursday marked the first time he has gotten involved with the organization since departing eight years ago.

"I got to see some people I had not seen in a while and relive some memories," the former catcher said. "The day I got traded in 2004 was a tough day for me, so a lot of those memories are coming back."

On the same day that Lo Duca was getting back involved with the Dream Foundation, new club president Stan Kasten was attending his first event of any kind with the charity.

Kasten said he was very impressed with how well organized, attended and supported the event was. He noted how the Dodgers have historically been known for their community work and expressed his excitement to be a part of it.

"This Dream Foundation is among the finest in all of sports and to be able to observe it in person and hopefully make contributions to it is a really thrilling prospect," said Kasten, who spent the day greeting sponsors instead of golfing.

"I won't be playing, because I don't have time for that," he said. "The way I play it would take way too long to play a whole round."

Like many of the other Dodgers alumni and organization members in attendance, Kasten said he couldn't think of a better way to spend his day.

"It was an easy call," he said. "It was something I had to do and I'm a lucky guy that I had to do it."

Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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