Phil Niekro Golf Classic Celebrates 20 Years

Thursday October 20, 2016 –

BRASELTON, Ga. – 44 teams, 36 holes and more than 40 celebrity team captains came together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Phil Niekro Golf Classic, an annual golf tournament to benefit the Edmondson-Telford Center for Children. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher Phil Niekro started the tournament, along with center staff and supporters, in 1996 – even before the center opened in 1997.

“We knew we had a need for a child advocacy center to serve Hall and Dawson counties, but we were in desperate need of funding,” says Lydia Sartain, former district attorney for Hall and Dawson counties who was a driving force behind the opening of the center. “Phil and I met around that time, and I told him about our initiative. He said, Let me know if I can help.’ Twenty years and $1 million later, he’s still asking – and answering – that question.”

The Edmondson Telford Center provides services to Hall and Dawson County children who are victims of sexual or severe physical abuse or neglect, as well as their non-offending family members. The Center provides a safe environment for crisis intervention and medical advocacy as the victim moves through the examination and investigation stages. The center opened in 1997 and serves more than 300 children free-of-charge annually – totaling more than 10,000 children served since their opening. The high quality evidence gathered through forensic interviews and medical examinations has proven critical in the successful prosecution of countless offenders and has increased the prosecution rates of child offenders in Hall and Dawson counties. The Center serves as a central coordination point for multiple agencies involved in child abuse cases to ensure that no child “falls through the cracks.”

“The Phil Niekro Golf Classic has been the foundation of keeping our center open during the past 20 years, including helping to fund the construction of our new building, The Little House, in 2009,” says Heather Hayes, executive director of the Center. “The work we do would not be possible without Phil’s determined efforts.”

“Many celebrities lend their names to help raise money for worthy causes,” adds Jane Carpenter, tournament coordinator. “But Phil’s work with the tournament has never been about just lending his name – he works tirelessly, year-round, to make this fundraiser a success – from attending and leading every golf committee meeting to convincing more than 40 of his celebrity athlete buddies to come play in the tournament each year to calling on businesses for donations to help keep the costs of our tournament low. Phil’s commitment to the Center is tremendous.”

Carpenter says they won’t know the total amount raised from this year’s tournament until they are able to tabulate all that came in during the day, but each year’s tournament usually brings in about $70,000 – $80,000.

For more information about the Edmondson Telford Center for Children, visit


The Edmondson Telford Center for Children provides the following core services:

  • Videotaped forensic interviews of suspected child abuse victims conducted by professionally trained certified forensic interviewers and coordinated with the involved investigative agencies.
  • Forensic medical examinations of suspected child abuse victims conducted by professionally trained certified forensic interviewers and coordinated with the involved investigative agencies.
  • Crisis intervention, resource materials and emotional support for victims and non-offending caregivers.
  • Legislative advocacy for children’s rights and issues regarding child maltreatment
  • Coordinated interdisciplinary review of cases by a team of professionals, including law enforcement, child protective services, prosecutors, medical and mental health professionals, school personnel, victim’s assistance staff and child advocates.
  • Professional training and community education for effectively identifying and responding to child abuse.

The Center is accredited by the National Children’s Alliance, the national association and accrediting body for the over 750 children’s advocacy centers serving each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.