The clubs were a-flying Saturday morning in Las Vegas, as Darius Rucker hosted the 2014 ACM Lifting Lives Celebrity Golf Classic at TPC Las Vegas. "It's such a great cause," said Rucker, who also hosted the event last year. "They do such great work, and to be a part of it and be able to come out and sponsor this golf tournament is really an honor."
The tournament benefits the Diane Holcomb Emergency Relief Fund, which enables ACM Lifting Lives to respond quickly to unforeseen, immediate financial needs of music related organizations and individuals. Just that morning, Rucker heard first-hand about how the organization had touched one of the attendees lives – something that pleased the singer. "I find the things I really care about, and I try to go and raise money for them. When I hear stories about how it's affected people's lives, it makes me feel happier and more proud of what I'm doing."
- ACM Awards Preview: Who Will Win The Top Categories?
- Billboard's ACM Awards Live Blog!
- ACM Awards Red Carpet Show: Watch!
- Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum to Pay Tribute to Musical Influences at ACMs
- Taylor Swift, George Strait, Carrie Underwood to Present
- ACMs Exec Producer R.A. Clark on Blake vs. Luke, Getting Shakira & more
Participants in the tournament included David Nail, Jake Owen, and Frankie Ballard, who told The 615 that the event combined two of his strongest passions. "It's such a cool idea to have golf incorporated with any charity. Everybody wants to come and support that kind of event. I love to play, and it's a beautiful day. So, I'm happy to be here."
How is Ballard's golf game? "I've been playing since I was little," he admitted, "but I don't score very well. I chalk it up to course management. I get up there and grip it, rip it, and try to hit it as far as I can. That usually doesn't compute to scoring very well."
One celebrity that said he tried to brush up on his golf skills was Scotty McCreery. "I've tried to play every day this week Monday," he said. "I was really focused on my backswing. I was hitting the ball about as well as I have done in quite some time. Then, Wednesday, I go back out and try to focus on the same thing. I shot about as bad as I ever have shot in my life," he said with a laugh. "Golf is a sport I will never figure out, but it's fun. It keeps me coming back."
McCreery also allowed that he comes back because he likes to give back. "This is such a great cause. When you have a ton of folks that want to support a cause like this, and are so passionate about, that's how you know it's really making a difference in people's lives. I'm glad we can do whatever we can to help raise awareness and help out."
Another artist involved in the day was Cole Swindell. The "Chillin' It" newcomer said being involved in the ACM festivities was a dream come true.
"Someone asked me what I was doing at this point last year. Literally, I had a show in Georgia, and was trying to find a TV where I could watch the ACM Awards. Now, a year later, I'm getting to sit with all the artists. It's crazy to think I'm in this format now. It's what I've always wanted to do. I'm not going to forget my first time out here."
Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley – also on the line-up last year, said that his game wasn't nearly as strong as some of the others. "It's not as good as Darius's or Jake Owen's. I have been playing a lot lately, and had a lot of time to play when Hillary was pregnant. That kept me sane. I just enjoy it. I grew up in Augusta, GA, so you have to play golf there."
Overall, though he wouldn't have minded a win, Kelley said all involved in the day were winners. "It's important for us to realize how blessed we are, and that it could all turn on a dime. Anytime you can help give back, you try to do it. "That's one thing about country music – I feel we always find ways to give back."
Gayle Holcomb – daughter of Diane – stressed how important the artists' participation in the tournament was, while giving a little bit more insight on the organization's mission, saying that Lifting Lives helps "people who are in need, don't have insurance, maybe there was a fire, an incident where they can't afford something. We have a small group of people and we do it anonymously. It's done very quickly."