Celebrity pro-am, military appreciation on tap at golf tournamen - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Travelers Championship

Celebrity pro-am, military appreciation on tap at golf tournament today

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Ernie Els, Doug Flutie, Tim Wakefield and Chris Berman prepare to tee off at the Travelers Championship celebrity pro-am. (WFSB photo) Ernie Els, Doug Flutie, Tim Wakefield and Chris Berman prepare to tee off at the Travelers Championship celebrity pro-am. (WFSB photo)
Channel 3 won $2,500 for the Channel 3 Kids Camp during the Travelers Championship celebrity mini golf tournament. (WFSB photo) Channel 3 won $2,500 for the Channel 3 Kids Camp during the Travelers Championship celebrity mini golf tournament. (WFSB photo)
CROMWELL, CT (WFSB) -

The celebrities participated on Wednesday for the celebrity pro-am, but there are also efforts for military appreciation at the Travelers Championship.

The Fan Zone at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell was filled with fans and military service members throughout the day. Members of the military and their families can get into the event for free all week.

Tuesday, organizers held an "Operation Shower" event for the families of military service members.

"We had military wives who were pregnant or who just had little ones," said Sharon O'Brien of St. Francis Hospital. "We just wanted to give them a huge shower with gifts and all sorts of things that they could walk away with."

O'Brien said St. Francis has sponsored the military outpost at the Travelers Championship for seven years.

"It's such a great way to give back to them for everything they've done for us," she said. "We offer them a free lunch every day, there's beverages and snacks all day long. We also have massages and acupuncture and ways to comfort them to help them feel better too."

The celebrity pro-am kicked off just before 7 a.m. with the first group led by Bubba Watson.

Watson is considered to be a fan favorite by many. Fans told Eyewitness News that they followed him throughout the round.

Caleb Shea from Beacon Falls was one of them.

"I hear about him on TV and he's doing such a great job, and I finally actually get to watch him play," Shea said.

From there, waves of celebrities and professional golfers will tee off throughout the morning.

Some of the celebrities in the mix include former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, former quarterback Doug Flutie, basketball player Ray Allen and Saturday Night Live alum Kevin Nealon.

Perhaps just as big as the pro-am and also happened Wednesday. It was the local celebrity mini golf tournament, which was hosted by actor Luke Wilson and Wakefield.

"I'm not sure where we finished but we had a great time together and they're great competitors and very nice kids," Wilson said. 

The idea was dreamed up by Renee DiNino. 

"We have a whole crew down here for the mini golf," said Nathan Grube, Travelers Championship tournament director. "Then we have the pro-am."

Channel 3's team of Eric Parker, Nicole Napela and Marc Robbins won the mini golf tournament in a playoff against iHeart Media. Their $2,500 prize goes to the Channel 3 Kids Camp.

"We didn't win," Connecticut native and WWE star Bob Backlund, who was also played in the mini-golf tournament, said. "I always have fun coming here." 

Grube said the biggest celebrities played in the celebrity pro-am between noon and 1 p.m. 

"It's a fun, family event," he said.

Check out the full list of celebrity pairings here.

Thursday is the official kick off of play for the professionals.

See sights from the Travelers Championship here.

For more on the tournament, head to its website here.

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