Lifestyle Philanthropy

Fairbanks Ranch resident Ernie Hahn throws golf benefit for Boys to Men Mentoring

Passion for a worthy cause and a birthday wish provided the inspiration for an upcoming bash at Morgan Run Club & Resort on Monday, Aug. 6.

Promoted by Fairbanks Ranch resident and San Diego business leader Ernie Hahn, who turns 51 Sunday, Aug, 5, “Caddyhack II” will feature 216 golfers competing in a scramble-style tournament, culminating in a 100-yard shootout, ladies’ event, music by eight bands, live and silent auctions, and plenty of food, beverages and brews from local vendors.

Participants will dress in costumes, many of them based on the event’s theme, a take-off on the classic comedy film Caddyshack. Also in keeping with the whimsical theme, giant inflated plastic gophers will be placed around club grounds.

“It just becomes an incredible party, and all of the money raised goes to Boys to Men Mentoring,” Hahn said. “I just want this to be the most fun you can ever have playing golf for a day — all for a good cause.”

Boys to Men’s mission is to provide adult male leadership to boys in their early teens to mid-teen years who are at risk of falling through society’s proverbial cracks, largely because they lack fathers or male guidance.

Founded in the mid-1990s, the nonprofit partners with schools to provide weekly mentoring sessions led by professional facilitators and accompanied by community members who share their experiences and encourage the students to open up about theirs. The organization also takes the boys on outings such as surfing and camping trips.

“I’m passionate about Boys to Men because it is changing lives one boy at a time,” said Hahn, general manager of Valley View Casino Center (previously titled San Diego Sports Arena).

Statistics, Hahn said, show the Boys to Men program is keeping young men from getting into trouble, committing crimes and going to jail. The organization is affiliated with about 40 schools in San Diego County, with many others on the waiting list to participate.

Campuses now hosting Boys to Men range throughout the region and include Alto Vista, Ivy, Major General Murray, Rancho Buena Vista and Sunset high schools in North County.

Money raised from “Caddyhack II” will enable the program to expand.

“With every $20,000 raised, we can add another school,” Hahn said. “I’m going to keep pushing this until we’ve got this in every single school in San Diego that wants it. We’ve come a long way, and we’ve got a long way to go..”

Hahn learned about Boys to Men while indulging in another one of his recreational pursuits besides golf. He was surfing at Black’s Beach when he struck an acquaintanceship with another surfer, Joe Sigurdson. He co-founded Boys to Men in 1996 with his father, the late Herb Sigurdson, and Craig McClain.

Impetus for the program, Joe Sigurdson said, came from being a good dad and the example set by his own father. Herb Sigurdson had many roles in children’s causes, including serving as executive director of Father Flanagan’s Boys Town.

Joe Sigurdson said that, as coach of his 8-year-old son’s youth sports teams, he welcomed four of his son’s buddies into the family’s home in La Mesa. Each of the boys was missing a father.

“We just did everything with those kids,” he said. “I’d throw everybody into the back of my truck (when that was legal), and haul them to the beach. ... My friends called me the ‘Disneyland dad’ because I was always up for having fun. I still talk to those boys now that they’re 36 or 37 years old.”

In the mentoring sessions, Sigurdson said, the team of adults form a circle with the boys, who are selected to participate by their schools in consultation with Boys to Men.

“We share our challenges, the choices we made, and the prices we paid for making those choices,” Sigurdson said. “(The boys) can feel the safety of the environment and that circle. They tell us about the choices they’re making and the consequences they’ve suffered and how they felt about themselves.

“We challenge them: ‘Is this what you want? What do you want? What kind of a man do you want to be? What can you do this week toward becoming that kind of a guy?

“Week by week, these guys are making new choices and week by week, they’re feeling better about themselves.”

After Sigurdson interested Hahn in the cause, the businessman organized two annual surfing-based fundraising competitions: the 100 Wave Challenge and the One Wave Challenge.

In the 100 Wave Challenge, surfers strive to catch 100 waves in one day, with backers pledging donations for each wave ridden. The One Wave Challenge seeks to get as many surfers as possible up on the same wave with the goal of breaking the world record of 112 boards on one wave. In the last one, the participants fell 10 short.

“We’ve done it three times, and we’ve come extremely close,” Sigurdson said. “We haven’t broken the world record, but we will next year for sure, because Ernie gets what he wants.”

What Ernie wanted last year was to celebrate his 50th birthday with a fun-filled extravaganza organized around golf that raised money for his favorite charity. Thus was born “Caddyhack.”

“I thought I was a good go-getter, but he runs circles around me,” Sigurdson said of Hahn. “He really makes stuff happen. He uses his relationships to help young men that don’t have much traction in their lives to make it. Now they’re getting it and they’re making it..”

The success of the first tournament engendered in Hahn a fervor to make this year’s event even more festive and intense, with the on-grounds participation of many of the boys who have benefitted from Boys to Men.

While the scramble competition has been expanded to 27 holes from 18 and the field to 216 from 144, the tournament itself has already sold out. Those interested in joining the festivities and participating in the auctions are welcome to drop by around 5 p.m.

“That’s what I’m a calling it now — the Caddyhack golf festival — because it’s way more than a golf tournament,” Hahn said. “It’s a real celebration of San Diego that day and a unique golf tournament like no other.”

The event, as well as his and his family’s involvement with Boys to Men Mentoring, the arena and many other endeavors are part of a longterm commitment to San Diego, Hahn stressed.

“It was important to my grandpa, it’s important to my dad, it’s important to me, and it will be important to my kids to give back, especially within this city that we love so much,” Hahn said. “It’s a big part of the DNA of the Hahn family — to give back — whether it’s time, money, energy and exposure to other entities that need the support.”

Information about “Caddyhack II” and Boys to Men Mentoring can be obtained by contacting Lauryn Semere at lauryn@boystomen.org or 619-469-9599. Visit one.bidpal.net/caddyhack/welcome and boystomen.org

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