Ledger Dispatch/Ross Alford

A man hits out of the sand trap Saturday during the annual Jeff Sanders Memorial Golf Tournament at Forest Meadows. The 138 people who played helped raise money to fund two $500 scholarships for Bret Harte High School students.

Jeff Sanders Memorial Golf Tournament a major success

Ross Alford / Ledger Dispatch Staff

FOREST MEADOWS- There were 138 people - mostly friends, relatives and community personalities - who gathered Saturday to play golf.

Some were there for the competition. Some were there because it was an excuse to play golf. Everyone, however, was there to contribute to a memorial scholarship fund and honor the memory of Jeff Sanders.

The tournament, a "best-ball scramble," was won by Rick Soracco's team that included Jerome Nelson, Greg Eason, Don Marshal and Scott Soracco with a score of seven under par. The tournament included prizes for Boy Brainard and Jim Grant for being players closest to the pin on two designated holes, and a prize went to Jay Jones for having the longest drive on the 10th hole.

Jeff Sanders died in 1990 after having contracted a particularly aggressive strain of influenza. The situation became complicated because his spleen had been removed do to a childhood disease. Without the spleen his body was unable to properly filter his blood and the relatively common influenza ailment, in a matter of hours, took his life.

"We started the tournament to do something to keep Jeff's memory alive," said Darlene Sanders, Jeff's mother, and one of the organizers of Calaveras County's largest annual memorial golf tournament. "In the six years that we've held the tournament, we've raised enough money to give 16 $500 scholarships and hope that after this year the scholarship awards will be perpetual. Recipients for the scholarship are picked from Bret Harte students that exhibit good citizenship, and leadership in athletics," Sanders said. "Marie Taerea and Emily Bergstrom, this year's recipients, are particularly good choices.

"Aside from the scholarship, though," Sanders said, "it's a great opportunity for friends to get together."

Mike Sanders, Jeff's brother, reminisced about Jeff's famous athletic ability and clowning antics. "He would throw a curve ball at you, a kind of side armed thing, and then with the ball coming straight at you, he would yell, 'look out' like it was a wild pitch then as you jumped out of the way, the pitch would break across the plate for a strike.

"Once, I saw him dive for a grounder in the infield, and then turn around and act like he was trying to find the ball, then when the guy on third started to break for home, he threw him out," Sanders said. "But, his most famous play was the homer he stole when we were playing American Legion ball. He'd jumped over the home run fence in right-center and caught the ball, but then instead of celebrating he walked in looking like the ball had gone over the fence, and threw a runner out at second who hadn't tagged up."