The entry deadline for the Rio Grande Classic golf tournament at Tierra Del Sol Country Club in Rio Communities is fast approaching. The entry deadline for next weekend’s tournament is Monday, April 22.

The tournament, played under a two-man team handicap format and divided into seven flights, will be played next Saturday and Sunday. The $300 entry fee includes a free round on Friday.

“It’s going to be a great tournament for everyone,” said Christain Peña, who plays professionally on the Japanese tour. “People that play will be supporting a great cause here in New Mexico.”

Golfers can enjoy three-straight days of golf and, in doing so, benefit the Richard Peña Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to offering “a path for young New Mexicans to achieve their highest potential.”

The late Richard Peña was a familiar face around Tierra Del Sol before his death from cancer. He is the father of Christain and Jason Peña, who serve on the foundation’s board of directors. Jason is a pro at TDS. The brothers share the course record.

Their father provided them with opportunities excel at golf and eventually make their living at the game. Now, the Peña boys are working to provide opportunities to other aspiring youth.

“We try to do what we can,” Christain said. “It’s turning out to be a great thing for kids in the community and all over the state. We try to focus on golf, but we like to keep our options open if there is a talented youngster in another sport.”

In its brief existence, the Peña Foundation has worked toward its goal by providing individual golfers with some financial help to pay tournament expenses. It has also purchased bags for both Belen and Los Lunas high school golf teams.

The Foundation is also planning to name a male and female high school student/athlete of the year and award each a $500 scholarship to further their schooling.

Several free youth golf clinics have already been conducted, and there are more planned for this summer. “It’s a great opportunity to get kids that never have played golf before to come out to the golf course,” Christain said. “And we want to not only get youth involved, but their parents too.”

Next weekend’s Rio Grande Classic is one way adults can contribute to the foundation. Saturday night’s silent auction is another. “We have a lot of great stuff,” Christain said. Planned to be up for auction are a US Open flag singed by Tiger Woods, a set of irons and drivers donated by Christain’s old college teammate Jim Furyk, baseball memorabilia and artwork by Ray Peña.

The auction is open to the public, not just golfers. Auction viewing and bids will be taken next Saturday night at 6 p.m. at the country club.

The men’s golf association at TDS is running the tournament. “They’ve been great,” Christain said. “It’s all been volunteer, so we appreciate everyone donating their time.”

Players with established USGA handicaps may enter the tournament. For more information, call the Tierra Del Sol pro shop at 864-1000.

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T.S. Last