As golf god Arnold Palmer once observed, “concentration comes out of a combination of confidence and hunger.”
Indeed, it was hard to concentrate at Lucille’s 1913 inaugural golf tournament at Hermann Park Golf Course — knowing that a sumptuous meal from Top Chef contestant and Houston star Dawn Burrell and Lucille’s culinary director Lawrence Walker awaited at the 18th hole.
The charity golf tournament benefitted Williams’ nonprofit, Lucille’s 1913, which has donated more than 215,000 meals during the COVID-19 pandemic and has received national recognition.
Some 144 golfers gathered for the tourney, which benefited Lucille’s 1913 and The Imani School, helmed by Williams’ mother Patricia Williams (who stole the show at the awards presentation).
More than $50,000 was raised for the two nonprofits through sponsorships, ticket sales, donations and a silent auction and a raffle. The event marked the second-largest tournament held at Hermann Park.
For a spirit beginning, the tournament featured a “shot glass” start as opposed to a typical shotgun start; participants took a shot of Highway Vodka. (The brand is owned by Williams' brother, Ben Williams. Lunches were provided by Lucille’s and adult beverages came courtesy of Silver Eagle and Highway Vodka.
In a first for Hermann Park, a stage was set up as an 18th-hole hazard; players played around it during the tourney.
Celeb golfers included former Houston Rockets All-Star Steve Francis, former Houston Texans Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Owen Daniels, professional golfer Maggie Noel, Houston Push coach and former Houston Rocket Moochie Norris, and MMA fighter and former world champion Jessica Aguilar.
Other notable attendees included Highway Vodka’s Wendell Robbins III and Codi Fuller; Chris Williams’ brother Brian Williams of Step Afrika!; Williams’ father Connie Williams; senior vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center Hospital, Greg Haralson; Bishop James Dixon; and professional long driver, Mitch Dobbyn.
When the tournament ended, Houston rap legend Bun B emceed an awards presentation, with prizes awarded to first, second, third, and last place along with longest drive and closest-to-the pin competitions. “Anyone play through?” Bun B asked the crowd. “I’ve never played through — I don’t golf,” he added to a round of laughter.
Williams greeted the audience with brief remarks about Lucille’s 1913 mission and handed it over to his charismatic mother, Patricia Williams, founder of The Imani School.
“If you teach children, they can do anything,” Patricia told the crowd, adding of her students, “these are the children who are going to take your places,” a line which earned generous applause. (In typical Houston six degrees, Bun B has grandchildren who attend Imani.)
Praise also went to trailblazing former PGA golfer Maulana Dotch, who is now general manager and director of golf at Hermann Park.
Ah, and the meal. The savory two-course dinner featured a spicy and hearty leaves beet salad with goats’ milk yogurt and savory granola, followed by coffee and stout-braised short rib with buttered turnips and wilted aromatic greens.
“We were thrilled to do this at Hermann Park in the backyard of our restaurant, Lucille’s,” said Chris Williams, “and we’re extremely grateful to The Imani School, Hermann Park and all of our partners who helped to make this event a success.”